Local officials respond to federal government's firearm legislation
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region officials are weighing in on new firearm legislation from the federal government.
Ottawa announced Tuesday it would move forward with its plan for stricter gun laws and will implement a voluntary buyback program in the coming months.
Owners of firearms reclassified as prohibited will be able to keep their firearms under strict storage rules or sell them to the federal government.
Officials in the region are applauding the steps, although there are still some questions that need to be answered.
Police Chief Bryan Larkin said there's an estimated 250,000 prohibited handguns and long guns in Canada. They're still assessing how many of those are in Waterloo Region.
Larkin said gun violence in the region typically involves handguns. More than 70 per cent of them are traced back to the United States.
"Strengthening border security, strengthening fines and mandatory and maximum sentencing for those who use handguns unlawfully is strengthened in this legislation, and I think that's a good thing," Larkin said.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he thinks it's a positive thing that cities will be able to regulate handguns in the community. He noted it's not an outright prohibition.
He added there's no dollar figure attached to the plan allowing cities to enact and enforce laws, and he believes investing in upstream prevention is a critical part of reducing gun violence.
"I think what we want to do is work with both our federal and provincial partners to make sure we're making the appropriate upstream investments in housing, in youth programming and other things that ultimately would have the most productive impact on these issues in the long run," he said.
Both Larkin and Vrbanovic said they would like to see a national framework.
Vrbanovic said it also might more sense to see a regional approach locally.
With files from CTVNews.ca