Canadian gun sellers are running out of weapons after a surge in demand in the run-up to a proposed ban by Justin Trudeau.
he prime minister announced plans for a freeze on handgun sales after a mass shooting in Texas in which 21 people, including 19 children, were killed.
The bill, which still needs to pass through parliament, would outlaw buying, selling, transferring and importing short-barrelled firearms. Gun stores across Canada reported a rise in demand after the announcement.
Some ran out of stock within days. In parts of the country, customers were lining up in the street, desperate to get a firearm before the ban.
“Almost all stores are sold out, including me,” said Josko Kovic, owner of DoubleTap sports in Toronto.
Mr Trudeau’s announcement had prompted a rise in panic buying. Jen Lavigne, co-owner of That Hunting Store in the capital Ottawa, said it had sold 100 handguns in three days.
“This measure is only going to hurt legal gun owners,” she said. “It’s not going to reduce any of the crime because the bad guys don’t follow the rules.”
With 30.8 gun crimes per 100 residents, Canada is ranked 13th globally for firearms violence. The United States, with 88.8, comes in first.
It is estimated that there are one million handguns in Canada, which has a population of 38 million. Laws are stricter than in the US, with owners required to have a firearms licence. Purchasers are also subject to background checks, which take at least 28 days.
South of the border, there was little sign the gun violence was abating. Three people were killed and 11 wounded in Philadelphia on Saturday, and in Phoenix, Arizona, a 14-year-old girl was killed and eight people injured after a shooting in a shopping centre. In Tennessee, a shooting near a Chattanooga nightclub early yesterday led to three deaths and 14 people suffering gunshot wounds and other injuries.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 239 mass shootings in the US this year in which at least four people have been killed or injured.
The latest attack in Philadelphia was the result of multiple shooters opening fire in the city’s busy South Street area, which has multiple bars and restaurants, around midnight on Saturday.
A surveillance video from the shooting showed people on a crowded street running in panic in the closing moments of the 22-second clip, presumably after gun shots were fired.
“There were hundreds of individuals just enjoying South Street, as they do every single weekend when this shooting broke out,” Philadelphia Police Inspector D F Pace said.
Philadelphia police officers observed “several active shooters shooting into the crowd”, with one officer “within about 10 to 15 yards” of an individual firing into the crowd, police said. That officer fired at the suspect, they said.
The whereabouts of the shooters were not immediately known, Insp Pace said. Two handguns were recovered at the scene, including one with an extended magazine.
The incident followed recent shootings at a grocery story in Buffalo, New York; the school attack in Uvalde, Texas; and at a medical building in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which left dozens dead.
Gun safety advocates are pushing the US government to take stronger measures to curb gun violence.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to ban assault weapons, expand background checks and implement other gun control measures to address the string of mass shootings.
Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic US senator working on bipartisan gun safety talks, said yesterday he believed a package including investments in mental health and school safety and some changes to gun laws could pass Congress.
A broad majority of American voters, both Republicans and Democrats, favour stronger gun control laws, but Republicans in Congress and some moderate Democrats have blocked such legislation.