OTTAWA — As the Trudeau government prepares new gun-control legislation, a victims group says all firearms’ magazines should be limited to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do.
The current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.
However, advocacy group PolySeSouvient says the regulations governing large-capacity magazines are riddled with exemptions and loopholes.
Gun dealers continue to sell magazines that exceed these limits or that can be modified to do so, the group said in an analysis released Thursday that pointed to several online examples.
Hundreds of thousands of illegal magazines remain in circulation, including some that hold more than 100 bullets, added PolySeSouvient, which includes students and graduates of Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where a gunman killed 14 women in 1989.
The call came on the sixth anniversary of a shooting in Moncton, N.B., in which an assailant killed three Mounties and wounded two others.
The shooter had a semi-automatic rifle along with one magazine made to hold five cartridges and two others that were originally 20-round magazines that had been pinned to hold no more than five bullets, according to an independent review of the tragedy.
It appears that the magazine modifications were removed so that the magazines could hold 20 cartridges, turning them into prohibited devices in Canada, the review said.
It noted that myriad online U.S. sellers of 20-shot magazines offered them for about $20.
The Quebec City mosque shooter began his January 2017 rampage with a rifle and two illegal 30-cartridge magazines. When the rifle jammed on the first shot, he turned to a handgun and five 10-bullet magazines.
The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order last month, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting.
The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported.
The Liberals have promised legislation to enact several other gun-control measures, including stricter storage laws to help prevent the theft of firearms and stronger penalties to help stop the flow of illicit weapons across borders.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has said the government will also bring in measures on large-capacity magazines, something PolySeSouvient considers crucial to an effective control regime.
Seventy-one per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Environics Research for PolySeSouvient said they supported limiting the number of bullets in magazines to five. The online survey was done May 11 to 14 among a representative sample of 1,511 Canadian adults.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.
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Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press