Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is looking at a "broad range of things" to tackle gun violence, but won't say yet if he supports a handgun ban in Canada's largest city.
Speaking to reporters in Toronto at a memorial to the victims of last week's mass shooting in the city's Greektown neighbourhood, Trudeau said his government is studying policies enacted in other jurisdictions, "the best evidence" and data.
"I think first of all we need to listen to people, need to be there for each other as they grieve," he said when asked about the best way to handle the issue of gun violence.
"And we have to look at what the best way to fulfil our fundamental responsibilities as governments, as orders of government, to keep our citizens safe. People need to be safe."
Asked if he backs a handgun ban in Toronto, the prime minister said: "There are a lot of things that we are looking at right now. Obviously, there's a lot of strong emotions going on."
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Trudeau said his government would make the right decision for the long term, not just the immediate future.
Toronto's city council voted last week to ask the federal government to ban the sale of handguns in the city, and for the province of Ontario to forbid the sale of handgun ammunition in Toronto. Mayor John Tory backs the move, asking publicly why anyone in Toronto needs "to have a gun at all."
A senior government official told The Globe and Mail that Trudeau will decide next month if Liberals will pursue the policy as part of a legislative reset that would involve proroguing Parliament.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has told reporters that while Ottawa will consider proposals to tighten laws, reclassifying weapons requires a "significant remodelling of the Criminal Code." Most handguns in Canada are presently classified as restricted.
Tories: 'Target thugs and criminals'
Federal Conservatives released a statement Monday on the possibility of new legislation.
"We will wait to see the details of any handgun ban, if and when the Liberals propose it, but Conservatives support measures that target thugs and criminals, not taking away property from law abiding sport shooters," Tory public safety minister Pierre Paul-Hus said in the release.
"As the Liberals themselves have suggested, a handgun ban would be a complex legal endeavour and even their own MPs have doubts that such a move would work."
On Monday, Trudeau attended the funeral in Toronto for Reese Fallon, the 18-year-old killed in last week's attack. The service for 10-year-old Julianna Kozis took place in nearby Markham, Ont.
Thirteen others were injured after a shooter, identified by police as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, opened fire on the busy Danforth Ave. Hussain was later found dead with a gunshot wound after exchanging fire with police.
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The prime minister said he was glad to be a part of a show of resilience and community. He noted that it was 20 years ago that his family said goodbye to his "little brother" Michel, who was killed in a B.C. avalanche in 1998 at the age of 23.
The young people at Fallon's funeral reminded him so much of his brother's friends, he said.
"I just wanted to tell them that they were going to be remembering and celebrating Reese throughout their lives," he said
"And I just wanted to tell those young people and everyone who is grieving and mourning that our loved ones, particularly extraordinary, beautiful ones like the two girls we lost, will be with us forever and will remind us that we need to work hard to honour their memories, to honour their love, and their spirit," he said. "And we will do that, all of us, together."
With files from The Canadian Press