Biden Wouldn't Back Trudeau-Style Handgun Ban in U.S.: White House

As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to introduce a bill that would place a national freeze on handgun ownership, the White House clarified that President Joe Biden has no plans to make similar moves south of the border nor does he support such a ban in the U.S.

"He does not support a ban on the sale of all handguns," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Tuesday's briefing.

Trudeau proposed new rules to significantly restrict the number of handguns in circulation in Canada on Monday, saying that "what this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere" in the country.

Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that while Biden would leave it up to Canada to determine its own gun laws, the president would rather focus on other key pieces of legislation—apart from a handgun ban—that would combat gun violence across the country.

Biden Handgun Ban Trudeau
The White House said that President Joe Biden would not support a ban on all handguns in the U.S. Biden speaks to the media on the south lawn of the White House on May 30, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty

"He supports a ban on sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines and expanded background checks to keep guns out of the dangerous hands," she said, adding that the administration would "leave it up to other countries to set their policy on gun ownership."

Trudeau has seized on recent mass shootings in the U.S. to further restrict firearms in Canada. His announcement comes less than a week after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during which 19 children and two teachers were killed by a gunman.

"We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action, firmly and rapidly, it gets worse and worse and more difficult to counter," Trudeau said on Monday.

"As a government, as a society, we have a responsibility to act to prevent more tragedies," he added.

Canada has notably stricter gun laws than the U.S. and also does not have a constitutional right to bear arms.

Trudeau campaigned on a promise to end gun violence in 2019, just a year before the country saw its deadliest rampage after 22 people were killed by a gunman in Nova Scotia.

After the 2020 shooting spree, Trudeau introduced rules immediately banning the use and trade of AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles.

"Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers," the prime minister said at the time. "There is no use—and no place—for such weapons in Canada."

Meanwhile in the U.S., lawmakers are still trying to find a path to passing bipartisan legislation in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

Senator Chris Murphy, who has led the Democrats' gun control efforts since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, said that although "many more Republicans are willing to talk" after last week's tragedy, the discussions aren't as far-reaching as he'd like.

"Inside this room, we're talking about red flag laws, we're talking about strengthening, expanding the background check system, if not universal background checks," he told ABC News' This Week on Sunday.

"We're talking about safe storage, and yes, we're also talking about mental health resources and more security dollars for schools," Murphy said. "A package that, really in the end, could have a significant downward pressure on gun violence in this country."