Trudeau says government will limit access to handguns, assault weapons

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government plans to limit access to handguns and assault weapons to confront gun violence in the country.

Speaking to Montreal radio station 98.5 FM Thursday on the anniversary of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre, Trudeau did not rule out a full ban when asked by the host.

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"We are currently reflecting on how we are going to do better to counter the violence caused by handguns and assault weapons, yes," Trudeau said. "What's happening is unacceptable."

The prime minister said the government is looking at different alternatives to address the situation. "But, yes, we want to limit the easy access that criminals unfortunately still have to handguns and assault weapons," he said.

In 2015, Trudeau's Liberals campaigned on a promise to "get handguns and assault weapons off our streets."

In October, as Ottawa held consultations on a possible ban of the weapons, groups representing survivors and families of victims of Quebec mass shootings questioned the government's commitment. They said they feared reforms would come too late in the government's mandate to be passed before the next election, scheduled for October 2019.

Trudeau's comments Thursday came as Montreal marked the 29th anniversary of shootings that killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique engineering school.

In a statement, Trudeau noted the victims were targeted because they were women. "We remember the victims of this hateful act of violence, and unite against the misogyny at the root of this tragedy," he said.

His statement did not mention firearms, but it called for action against violence and discrimination affecting women. "Survivors and advocates are leading the fight for change, and their example inspires all of us," he said.

In a ceremony Thursday morning, flowers were laid at a Montreal monument honouring the victims: Genevieve Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganiere, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz.

In Quebec City, the flag at the National Assembly was at half-mast. "We have a duty to remember Polytechnique," Premier Francois Legault told the legislature. "The equality between men and women is part of the fundamental values of Quebec, and we must never take a backwards step."

Trudeau is scheduled to join Legault and other political leaders at a memorial event on Mount Royal later Thursday.

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