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Canada’s Conservative Party, which holds a slim lead in a tight electoral race, is facing mounting criticism for its stance on gun control after the Conservatives pledged to overturn a 2020 ban on some “assault-style” weapons.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has been pressed repeatedly this week over his campaign promise to overturn last year’s prohibition on weapons such as the AR-15, which was used by a gunman to kill 26 adults and children in the Sandy Hook massacre in the United States in 2012.

Canada’s Conservative Party, which holds a slim lead in a tight electoral race, is facing mounting criticism for its stance on gun control after the Conservatives pledged to overturn a 2020 ban on some “assault-style” weapons.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has been pressed repeatedly this week over his campaign promise to overturn last year’s prohibition on weapons such as the AR-15, which was used by a gunman to kill 26 adults and children in the Sandy Hook massacre in the United States in 2012.

Gun control is a sensitive issue in the country, especially in the French-speaking province of Quebec, where several deadly mass shootings have taken place over the past decades.

In the aftermath of a deadly attack in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia last year, Trudeau in May announced a ban of more than 1,500 models and variants of “assault-style” firearms, including the AR-15.

“You do not need an AR-15 to take down a deer,” Trudeau said at that time. “So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country.”

Liberal governments have over the years tightened gun control laws in Canada, but some conservative voters complain the measures are too restrictive and needlessly penalise farmers and hunters.

On Saturday, O’Toole told reporters in Vancouver that it was “very upsetting to see Mr Trudeau trying to import American-style politics, particularly on an issue of public safety”.

A big problem is weapons being smuggled in from the United States, said O’Toole, who is also promising a review of how weapons are classified as dangerous in Canada.

But the Conservatives’ position has been met with criticism not only from their Liberal rivals, but from gun control advocates, as well.“Erin O’Toole is lying to Canadians when he says he will maintain ‘the ban’ on assault weapons,” said PolyRemembers, an advocacy group founded in the aftermath of a 1989 mass shooting at an engineering school in Montreal that killed 14 women.

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