By Alex Schummer
TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada launched a C$250 million ($191 million) fund to curb gun violence, earmarking a significant amount to stop gun smuggling at the border, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on Wednesday.
The fund will be used to help municipalities and indigenous
communities prevent gun and gang violence, and in banning of more than 1,500 models of assault-style firearms.
Incidents related to gun violence in Canada have jumped 81% since 2009, but the level of gun ownership is low compared to the United States. In Canada, there are 31 firearms per 100 residents, while the US has 89 firearms per 100 residents, according to a Small Arms Survey.
Mendicino said the government will be launching a “mandatory buy-back program” to get newly prohibited guns off the streets as part of Liberal government’s effort to keep communities safe.
He said the government’s action plan to fight crime resulted in a record seizure of trafficked firearms last year.
“Building community resilience through prevention is one of the key pillars of our plan to take action on gun violence…,” Mendicino said.
Gun related homicides in Canada rose to 277 in 2020 from 223 in 2016, according to official data. In 2020, shootings represented 30% of the 743 homicides in Canada. Still, Canada’s firearm homicide rate was 0.8 per 100,000 people in 2020, and in contrast nearly six in every 100,000 United States residents were killed with a gun in 2020, according to government data.
Canada witnessed its deadliest mass shooting in May 2020, when a gunman armed with weapons that included an assault rifle killed 22 people in Atlantic province of Nova Scotia. Canada banned assault-style weapons in the aftermath of the mass shooting.
($1 = 1.2716 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Alexander Schummer; Editing by Alistair Bell)