Canada's government introduced legislation Monday to implement a "national freeze" on the sale and purchase of handguns as part of a gun control package that would also limit magazine capacities and ban some toys that look like guns.

The new legislation, which resurrects some measures that were shelved last year amid a national election, comes just a week after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in their classroom in Uvalde, Texas.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters the new measures were needed as gun violence was increasing. "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 gets more difficult to counter," he said.

The handgun freeze would contain exceptions, including for elite sport shooters, Olympic athletes and security guards. Canadians who already own handguns would be allowed to keep them.

Authorities do not expect a run on handguns in anticipation of the freeze, in part because they are so heavily regulated already, an official said in a briefing.

Canada has stronger gun legislation than the United States but while its gun homicide rate is less than one-fifth the U.S. rate it is higher than that of other rich countries and has been rising. In 2020 it was five times Australia's rate.

Canada banned the sale and use of some 1,500 models of assault weapons, like the AR-15 rifle, two years ago in the wake of a mass shooting in Portapique, Nova Scotia - a move some firearms owners say they are contesting in court. Speaking alongside Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino confirmed the "imminent launch of the initial phase" of a program to buy back and compensate owners of such weapons.

"Because they look the same as real firearms, police need to treat them as if they are real. This has led to tragic consequences," Justice Minister David Lametti told reporters.