07/24/2018 14:00 EDT | Updated 07/24/2018 17:52 EDT

Ralph Goodale: Feds Mulling Tougher Handgun Laws, But It's No Easy Task

Discussions were already happening before the Toronto shooting.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale arrives to appear as a witness at a House of Commons standing committee on immigration in Ottawa on July 24, 2018.

OTTAWA — The federal government is prepared to consider tightening handgun laws, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters Tuesday as he responded to questions surrounding the deadly weekend shooting in Toronto.

But changing the laws or reclassifying weapons is not a simple task, Goodale warned before testifying at an immigration committee meeting.

"That would require significant remodelling of the Criminal Code," he said.

Watch: Banning handguns in Toronto means significant changes, Goodale says

Ottawa has been looking at changes to Criminal Code handgun provisions — not based on the Toronto shooting, but after hearing testimony earlier this year from people affected by the January 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec City, where six people were killed, the minister said.

Following Sunday's attack in Toronto's Danforth area, in which authorities said 29-year-old Faisal Hussain killed an 18-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl and wounded 13 others, the city's mayor has renewed calls for tougher restrictions on firearms.

Goodale said the Trudeau government will look at proposals already before lawmakers to see what changes could be made.

"A number of groups and organizations made representations to that effect earlier this year," said the minister.

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"I said that we would be prepared to consider their arguments, and we will do that.

"We'll examine the proposal to see if it can be effective."

Goodale also said that Hussain was not on any federal watchlists associated with national security.

Hussain's parents have said their son struggled with psychosis and depression and that they were devastated by his violent actions.

Toronto mayor: 'Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?'

In a speech at Toronto city council chambers just hours after the shooting, Mayor John Tory said too many people were acquiring guns that were legally purchased in Canada, and that has to stop.

"Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?"

Bill Blair, the former Toronto City Police chief who was appointed last week as minister responsible for reducing organized crime, said lawmakers should be looking at more than simply handguns as they work to get illegal weapons off the streets.

"I think we really need to focus on those guns that are getting into the hands of criminals and people who commit violent crimes in our city," said Blair.

"The causes and solutions to violence are varied and I think it's really important that we be open to looking at every avenue that we can take."

Mosque shooting victims push for action

The Criminal Code already imposes restrictions on handguns and other firearms, but some critics have called for a further tightening both on handguns and certain semi-automatic weapons.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in May of this year, more than 75 people including some wounded in the Quebec City shooting and family members of those killed urged the Liberal government to ban rifles like the one carried by mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.

Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty in March to six charges of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder, had a .223-calibre Small Arms VZ58 Sporter rifle along with a handgun.