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Trudeau listening to 'concerns' assault-style gun definition covers hunting rifles

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is listening to concerns that some of the firearms it's looking to ban are used primarily for hunting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. He made the comment during a press conference in Ingersoll, Ont.
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A restricted gun licence holder holds a AR-15 at his home in Langley, B.C. Friday, May 1, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's listening to concerns that some of the firearms his government is looking to ban are in fact used more for hunting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is listening to concerns that some of the firearms it's looking to ban are used primarily for hunting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. 

He made the comment during a press conference in Ingersoll, Ont., suggesting a shift in tone from the Liberals on a piece of gun-control legislation being studied by members of Parliament. 

A Liberal amendment to Bill C-21 would enshrine a regulatory ban on so-called assault-style weapons by inking an evergreen definition for such firearms into law.

That amendment has drawn criticism from firearms groups as well as the Opposition Conservatives, who say a proposed list of the weapons that will be captured by that definition includes some guns that are use mainly used for hunting. 

Critics, including Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre, have said that unfairly targets hunters and farmers while failing to address the country's issues with gun violence.  

Even the federal New Democrats, who have partnered with the minority Liberal government to pass legislation on shared interests, have voiced concerns about the impact the amendment would have on hunters, particularly those who are Indigenous.

Trudeau said Monday his government is consulting Canadians about the list, saying, "That's what we're listening to feedback on now, to make sure that we're not capturing weapons that are primarily hunting weapons."

He said his government is targeting weapons "designed to kill the largest number of people, as quickly as possible," reiterating that "we're not going after hunting rifles or shotguns."

During question period, Poilievre continued to press the government and repeated his demand to reverse the ban on such weapons. 

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino — who has previously accused the Conservatives of "fearmongering" — responded in the House of Commons by noting that Tuesday marks the 33rd anniversary of the Polytechnique Massacre, where a gunman killed 14 women. 

Earlier in the day, Mendicino blamed the opposition for sowing confusion among Canadians. 

One person he suggested may have fallen prey to that confusion was Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price. 

Over the weekend, Price posted a photo of himself holding a rifle on Instagram with the message, "I love my family, I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society." He went on to call the Liberal gun legislation "unjust."

Mendicino said it appears the gun Price is holding in the picture is legal and will remain so under the government's legislation.

"You see now the consequences of that, where people are operating from false assumptions and confusion. We need to make sure that we have a thoughtful debate that is based on the facts," he said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5,2022.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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