Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily press conference on COVID-19, in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, April 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ban on assault-style guns top of mind for Trudeau, as Canada mourns Nova Scotia victims

At least 18 people were killed when a shooter opened fire in multiple communities

Legislation for a ban on assault-style weapons was coming to Ottawa before the pandemic led to the suspension of Parliament , Prime Minister Trudeau said Monday (April 20).

Much of the prime minister’s daily address was dedicated to the small communities of Nova Scotia that lost loved ones in a deadly mass shooting, including an RCMP constable, a nurse and an elementary school teacher. As of late Monday morning, RCMP said 19 people had died as a result of the shooting and that the death toll is expected to rise.

“A gunman claimed the lives of at least 18 people, among them a woman in uniform whose job it is to protect lives even if it endangers her own,” Trudeau said, calling the massacre “heartbreak on top of heartbreak” for a province and a country already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Const. Heidi Stevenson was among the dead in a deadly mass killing Sunday.

“Const. Stevenson died protecting others. She was answering the call of duty, something she had done every day when she went to work for 23 years.”

Trudeau said his government had been “on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country” before the pandemic hit.

In January, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair call a ban on assault rifles “an important step that perhaps could be accomplished in the near term.”

Trudeau did not answer a question about if the shooter, a 51-year-old denturist, was on any federal or police watch lists.

“I don’t want to jump to conclusions,” Trudeau said, noting the investigation into the mass shooting was in its early stages.

A virtual vigil for the victims will be held Friday, Trudeau added, as physical distancing rules prevent in-person gatherings.

READ MORE: Probe into mass killing in Nova Scotia continues as province grapples with the violence

– with files from The Canadian Press


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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