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Children lay flowers at an impromptu memorial in front of the RCMP detachment April 20, 2020 in Enfield, Nova Scotia, Canada. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said such shootings "shape our identity, they stain our conscience, they make adults out of children and the heartbreaking truth is they're happening more often than they once did." (Photo: Tim Krochak/Getty Images)

2 Weeks After Nova Scotia Massacre, Canada Bans Assault Weapons. 7 Years After Sandy Hook in the US—And Still Nothing

"Republicans in the U.S. Congress—what are you waiting for?"

Julia Conley

Telling the Canadian public that they "deserve more than thoughts and prayers" less than two weeks after a series of shootings in Canada that killed 13 people, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a ban on "assault-style" semi-automatic weapons in the country.  

Effective immediately, Trudeau said, the sale, transport, and use of about 1,500 makes and models of such guns will now be illegal in Canada.

The prime minister added that the government would work in the coming months on legislation to compensate people who already own the weapons. Owners have until April 2022 to dispose of the guns. 

"These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time," Trudeau said. "There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada."

Trudeau called the shootings of April 18 and 19, which were carried out by one gunman with multiple weapons, "the deadliest rampage in our country's history." Nine people also died in fires set by the gunman, who obtained the weapons illegally in the U.S. and Canada. 

The Coalition for Gun Control, a Canadian group, said the country has endured "a long wait" for gun control reforms like the one passed by Trudeau's cabinet without going through the legislature. Last month's massacre was the deadliest shooting in the country since 1989, when a gunman killed 14 women and himself in Montreal. 

"This is a milestone for Canada and an important step forward. We are counting on all parliamentarians to support a mandatory buy back program and to keep this ban permanent," coalition president Wendy Cukier said in a statement.  

In the U.S.—where 70 to 90% of the guns used in Canadian shootings come from—gun control advocates applauded Trudeau's decisive action and condemned the U.S. government, particularly the Republican Party, for standing in the way of a similar ban. 

"Canada banned assault weapons [less than] two weeks after the Nova Scotia mass shooting," tweeted the Newtown Action Alliance. "It's been more than seven years since the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy when 26 children and educators were massacred with an AR-15 and high capacity magazine."

In addition to the Sandy Hook shooting, Americans in recent years have watched lawmakers refuse to pass meaningful legislation after 58 people were killed at a concert in Las Vegas in 2017; 49 were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016; 17 were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida in 2018; and as tens of thousands of people are killed by firearms each year. 

"Republicans in the U.S. Congress—what are you waiting for?" tweeted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting.

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