Archive for April, 2007

Swat Team raid in rural Alberta

April 30, 2007

I just got an email on this one on Thursday before I flew out to Toronto for a Canadian Shooting Sports Association meeting, but was pleased to see a column by George Jonas in the National Post that mentioned it among other concerns.

I’ll use the cleaned up version that Jonas used in his article for illustration. The original email was a bit angrier.

Last Monday, April 16th, 4 a.m., near the hamlet of Craigmyle, Alberta, just southwest of Hanna, John Rew, age 50, was awakened to the sound of a SWAT smoke grenade smashing through his bedroom window,” wrote my correspondent. “He was thrown face down on the floor and handcuffed instantly afterward, as a second smoke grenade exploded through his TV stand in the living room, burning a hole in the floor.

The Drumheller RCMP, Calgary SWAT, and Red Deer SWAT had come for all his firearms, in particular his registered prohibited and restricted firearms, all legally registered to him.

Although their search warrant did not include any residences, Rew agreed to lead them across the farmyard to his 80-year-old mother’s house. Her basement contains Rew’s storage facility. His mother, Betty, allowed them entry and was detained for her co-operative efforts. The masked, body-armoured, assault rifle equipped [police] got what they came for. Rew was hauled away, still in handcuffs. His alleged crime: allowing his F.A.C/P.A.L [gun permits] to expire. 2:30 that afternoon he was released, promising to appear in Drumhelller court 10 am May 25th 2007.

“The authorities shut down Rew’s oilfield business for the day, turning his 20 employees away at the gate. His sister was not allowed entry to tend to their 80-year-old mother who had been devastated by the events of that morning. Ironically, the next day, April 17, our government announced an extension of the long gun registry amnesty for another year.

 My understanding is that the gentleman’s license expired some time ago, so he was in breach of the law and subject to having his firearms seized. But does that rate a 3 AM police raid complete with smoke bombs, firearms drawn and masked ERT members brought all the way from Calgary, Drumheller and Red Deer?

I have never been to Craigmyle, but it has to be smaller than Hannah and Hannah’s not a very big centre. Can you spell “overkill”?

There are also reports that this may have been generated by a disgruntled ex-employee.

Whatever. This is something that could happen to anyone. A lapsed license or a false complaint by some neighbour or whomever and you too could have an ERT team kicking your door down.

I don’t know if there is more to this story, but will keep looking into it.

Unsafe storage

April 26, 2007

Now here’s a story that makes Alan Rock’s statement, that only the military and the police should have guns, appear rather amusing.

Members of the SWAT team based in Raleigh, N.C., were eating at Interstate Bar-B-Que, 2265 S. Third, about 3:30 p.m. Monday when they realized their van had been broken into, said Lt. Jerry Gwyn of Memphis felony response.

Taken were three machine guns, two semi-automatic handguns, and two 12-gauge shot guns, Gwyn said.

If they had been in Canada I wonder if they would have been charged with unsafe storage?

Thanks to Randy Balko’s blog site for the link.

The joys of air travel

April 24, 2007

I just returned from the B.C. Wildlife Federation annual convention in Dawson Creek. I flew up and back and was reminded once again as to why I have begun to really detest air travel.

I had originally booked my flight from Kelowna to Vancouver with Air Canada and then from Vancouver to Dawson Creek on Central Mountain Air. The flights had been booked so I didn’t have to leave Kelowna at the crack of dawn but would to get me in to Vancouver with enough time to comfortably check in with CMA.

My first setback was when Air Canada changed my flight to depart at 8:00 AM, which meant getting out to the airport by at least 7:00 AM and that I would now be sitting in the Vancouver airport for close to 5 hours before my flight left for Dawson Creek.

For some reason you cannot have your luggage checked through from Air Canada to CMA and therefore when you arrive at Vancouver airport on Air Canada you have to leave the secured area, pick up your luggage and check in at the CMA desk and then go back through security to the gate area you just left.

When I picked up my luggage at the carousel I found that in the short flight between Kelowna and Vancouver somehow they had managed to rip the handle off one of my suitcases. It must have been quite violent as it actually snapped metal.

Other than an hour delay on the CMA flight because it had been delayed leaving Fort St. John because of fog, the rest of the trip was uneventful.

Coming home we checked in at the Dawson Creek airport, which is a very, very small facility. (That probably needs a third ‘very’.) The staff were friendly but when we went through security they wand-searched everyone. Initially I thought that they were just practicing, but one of the other passengers said that apparently the walk-through metal detector wasn’t working. However that wasn’t made obvious to the passengers. Although they didn’t check my computer they did pull aside one passenger and did a nitrate check on a small leather case he carried his papers in. It seemed a bit bizarre. I also discovered to my chagrin (along with a number of other people) that apparently you can’t take an opened liquor bottle on the plane even in checked lugagge. So much for what left in a bottle of Bacardi 1873.

When we arrived in Vancouver I once again had to leave the secured area, pick up my luggage and again check through security to get back to where I came from. I did a pre-check-in at one of the kiosks and was directed to a convyer belt where I was to deposit my checked luggage. Lo and behold, the belt wasn’t working and the luggage was piled up waiting for it to re-start. I figured at that point my luggage wasn’t coming home with me.

 My timing was a bit tight on this one and they were calling my name by the time I got to the gate and showed my boarding card to a glowering AC employee. But then we were in the air and heading home.

Upon arrival in Kelowna my luggage, as expected, didn’t show up. No problem, as I knew they would deliver. But I also had to show them my damaged bag with a repair slip that I had been given in Vancouver. There were a couple of other people as well with the same problem of no luggage.

The Air Canada baggage booth wasn’t open so we went up to the ticket agent area and one of the agents came down to assist us. Either she had experienced a bad day at work or was just naturally unfriendly, but she made a routine process an unpleasant experience.

But as expected, the luggage showed up at our house about 10:00 PM.

Being a slow learner, I am off next weekend to a Canadian Shooting Sport Association meeting in Toronto. However, this time it is a straight through flight – coming and going – between Kelowna and TO. And on WestJet, which is as close to a pleasant experience as you can get flying these days.

As an aside, a friend had the same situation with Air Canada with having his flight time changed. When he phoned to see what other arrangements he could make, the ‘service’ personnel said that he was hostile and hung up on him. He said he phoned back, got a very pleasant lady and got things straightened out.

If I never flew again on commercial air I would be happy, but if you gotta get there you just bite the bullet (probably wouldn’t want to say that out loud in an airport) and board the plane.

Alternate plan to arming Canada Customs

April 16, 2007

A very funny article on Law and Order’s website.

The $800 million plan to train and arm Canadian border officers is projected to take ten years, leaving some customs officers without protection against threats for as long as a decade.

While they wait, Blue Line Magazine has learned that the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is reviving an innovative ‘passive defence’ plan called “Retreat Underground until Neutralized” (RUN), originally developed under the previous Liberal government as an alternative to arming officers.

An Underground Strongroom Annex (USA) will be constructed under inspection booths, allowing officers to literally drop and take cover when they feel threatened at vehicular border crossings. The USAs will have armoured lids which close and lock automatically after an officer enters. They will be equipped with phone lines (to call police or US Customs and Border Protection for help), first aid kits and paper bags (to reduce the effects of hyper-ventilation).

And it goes on.

Upon activating the USA escape chute, a magnetized tracking device will be immediately ejected under the suspect car. This device will permit responding police officers to zone in on the vehicle’s location, but also has a second function. Once the device is a kilometre away from the border, the armoured door to the USA will automatically open and officers will be expected to return to their posts – and their primary task – collecting revenue.

Read the whole article.

A good Sunday morning

April 15, 2007

Went out to the golf course early this morning and was in a twosome, first off the blocks. No one in front of us and a beautiful sunny morning. Finished in just under 3 hours and 15 minutes and weren’t even rushing. Listened to a Lyle Lovett CD on the way home and saw a mountain goat low down on the cliffs just north of Summerland. Looked like a nice billy. A great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Federal government proposes a firearm amnesty extension

April 14, 2007

The federal government has just floated a proposal to extend the amnesty for those firearms “owners of non-restricted rifles and shotguns who had a firearms licence that expired after January 1, 2004 and which has not yet been renewed, and to those who hold a valid licence but who possess unregistered non-restricted firearms”.

This was incorrectly reported in the MSM as a done deal. However whoever wrote the articles obviously forgot to read the official material, which is pretty clear. 

However it did give them an opportunity to quote a whole bunch of anti-gun people who also had absolutely no idea of what the amnesty was really about.

Families of victims of gun crime, who support the long gun registry, are calling the amended order a bad move that will make the registry two years out of date — and essentially useless to police.

“It think that it’s totally and absolutely ridiculous,” Audette Sheppard, a gun control advocate whose son Justin was shot to death in Toronto in 2001, told CTV News.

“I think they’re extending it in part because they couldn’t get the legislation through the House of Commons.”

Shepard says the Tory move will lessen the controls of long guns and the shotguns in Canada.

“It truly demonstrates a total disregard for the Parliamentary process, because if you can’t change a law through the proper channels, it’s inappropriate to use an amnesty to undermine the will of Parliament,” she said. “These people just don’t get it, and they may not get it unless they become intimately affected by the results of what guns can do.”

Government critics say the Tories are trying to sneak a major change through Parliament without having to pass a new law.

“It says the Conservatives are trying to do by stealth what they can’t do out in the open — which is kill the long gun registry,” said Liberal Justice Critic Marlene Jennings.

All of which is a bunch of crap. What the amnesty does do is allow someone whose firearms licence has expired or who has a licence but has unregistered firearms to bring himself into compliance with the law without fear of criminal prosecution.

The catch being that if the gun owner has registered firearms but has an expired licence or has a licence and unregistered firearms, although he can’t be criminally charged, he can have his firearms seized.   

The government (through the RCMP) is asking for individuals to submit their opinions on the proposed amnesty extension.

Individuals have until April 21, 2007 to submit their views on the proposal. They may do so by e-mail, by surface mail to:
Legal Services,
Royal Canadian Mounted Police,
Canada Firearms Centre,
10th Floor, 50 O’Connor Street,
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1M6,
or by calling 1 800 731-4000, ext 7799.

Regardless of the shortcomings of the amnesty, it is something that should be enthusiatically supported by all firearm owners even if they are not directly affected. All it takes is an e-mail, a letter or a phone call. The federal government needs to know that we are still strongly engaged in the fight to correct the excesses of the federal Firearms Act.

Make a law, lose a law

April 12, 2007

After reading about Georgia’s new law that jails foreign travellers for even minor traffic offences, this article has even more relevance.

The community of Leaf Rapids has opted for political showmanship to deal with environmental challenges, rather than embrace solutions respecting freedom and responsibility.

The community’s town council passed a bylaw prohibiting retailers from providing or selling plastic bags. There is no room for any middle ground or creative solution.

The idea of the ban is not new. It has been used for different causes. The Ontario government “banned” the whole pit bull canine breed from the province. They are starting to see how difficult and oppressive this law is. We also see it in the movement to ban transfat and fatty foods.

This is becoming very common and it heralds a dangerous time when belief in promoting the “good” is used to justify increasing levels of personal oppression. Just look at our laws on “hate speech.” Sure, it is easy for those who hold orthodox views on these subjects to support these laws, but for dissenters it means financial and professional ruin. It is so easy to “ban” offensive speech rather than challenge it and defeat it through debate.

It is always someone’s particular vision of the good that is being imposed on everyone. Philosopher Isaiah Berlin spoke about the tendency of governments, including democratic ones, to use their conception of the good as a pretext to commit atrocities. Witness the French Revolution.

In Leaf Rapids, the legitimate right of retailers to sell whatever they choose to whomever they wish seems to have been thrown out the window for someone’s misguided belief they are saving the planet. Also ignored is the concept that attacking the rights of some is not justified by appealing to the “good” of the majority.

So much for discussion where dissenting voices can be heard. Banning is not about rational debate. It is the triumph of someone’s will over the many.

This is something that legislators should think about before they pass yet another law to solve some perceived problem by simply making something that was legal yesterday, illegal today.

We are now seeing public officials wanting to ban toy guns and we have seen serious discussion about banning ‘pointy knives’ (one of my personal favourites). One community was going to ban gang ‘colours’ from being worn – as if that was going to address the problems of gang violence.

If there is a problem that needs solving, there is someone with a solution: ban something. Why not? It’s easy, it looks like you’re doing something positive and if it doesn’t solve the problem who cares? It gets you publicity now and moves the debate to a later date where you can ban something else.

It was suggested by someone, somewhere, that every time a new law is passed the responsible body should be required to remove a law from the books. Not a bad idea. At least it would give politicians and bureaucrats something useful to do with their time.

Visit Georgia, do time!

April 11, 2007

An Ottawa student, passing through Georgia, gets busted for a minor traffic offense and spends 11 hours in jail. Now that’s Southern hospitality in spades!

A 23-year-old Carleton University master’s student is outraged and demanding an apology from Georgia officials after spending more than 11 uncomfortable hours in a detention centre for running a stop sign and speeding.

Cheryl Kuehn said she was fingerprinted and had her mugshot taken before being forced to strip naked and shower, don a navy blue jail outfit and sleep in a cell with two other women while other inmates jeered and leered at her from adjoining cells.

******

But officials with the Georgia state police and Glynn County Detention Center, where Mrs. Kuehn was being held, said they were just following procedure when someone from another country is stopped for speeding or other traffic violations — no matter how minor they might seem.

That procedure, they said, includes holding Canadians, including those carrying a valid passport like Mrs. Kuehn, or other “foreign nationals,” in custody until the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency confirms they are legally allowed to be in the country.

**********

I always love that: following procedure. That explains everything. And a passport is a real lot of good. It looks as though it gets you into the country but it’s not much good once you get to the Peach State.

“We are not doing it to punish anyone or cause any greater grief. It is just the way the law is written,” said the trooper, who offered no apologies for how Mrs. Kuehn was treated.

Col. Louise Newsome, jail administrator at the Glynn County Detention Center, said policy requires all non-U.S. citizens to go through the sometimes lengthy immigration process to determine if they are wanted on warrants. She said the jail adopted the policy in advance of a new Georgia state law, scheduled to come into effect in July.The controversial law, which deals with a variety of immigration issues, including social services and human trafficking, also requires legal status verification for people charged with a felony or drunk driving offence, according to a summary of the law posted on Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s website.

However, Mrs. Kuehn was charged with neither a felony nor drunk driving.

And it’s not even the law at this point in time! Talk about wanting to drive away the tourist business.

Whoever wrote up this law must have been listening to Tom T. Hall’s “A week in a county jail“.

The couple of times I have been to Georgia I have loved it. Particularly being in Savannah. But with this type of law on the books I don’t know that I want to pass that way again.

Why doesn’t my government trust me?

April 9, 2007

I am a reasonably honest citizen. I drive over the speed limit occasionally and that’s about the extent of my lawlessness. I pay my taxes, although begrudgingly, and I donate to charities. I volunteer a lot of time to non-profits.

I also have an up-to-date Possession and Acquisition Licence and I registered my firearms (very begrudgingly). And that’s what really bugs me.

Regardless of my sterling character and the fact that the government, by issuing me a PAL, has admitted that to the best of their knowledge I am no risk to society (personally I like to think that it means that they regard me as a model citizen), they are still reluctant to trust me.

By issuing me a PAL, they have indicated that I am sufficiently upstanding to own an unlimited number of firearms for hunting, target shooting or for the sheer love of technology. They have also said that I can own restricted firearms (handguns for the most part by the government’s definition) and by dint of history and grandfathering, prohibited firearms (Again by the government’s definition of handguns with short barrels along with a list of other guns that they consider to be undesirable).  But that’s where they draw the line.

Although I now have a licence to show that I can legally possess a firearm and a piece of paper that says that I have legally registered that firearm in the government data base (I was going to say ‘secure data base, but thought that was probably an oxymoron), I can’t take my ‘restricted’ or ‘prohibited’ firearms anywhere without an Authorized To Transport (ATT) permit.

So I legally own the firearm, under government approval, and without a transport permit I can’t even take it to a shooting range to use it. But at least, thanks to government benevolence, I can get a permit to take those firearms to a shooting range. But if I wanted to take a handgun out into the backcountry for protection or to pot a grouse in season there is no way that I can get authorization to do so. (As an aside, even if the bloody feds would give me an ATT that would allow me to pack in the backcountry I still couldn’t use the handgun to shoot a grouse because the B.C. hunting regulations specifically state that it is illegal to hunt with a handgun. But that is another issue that sticks in my craw.)

The question is, ‘why’?

To answer my own question: because the firearms legislation was written by anti-gun bureaucrats with the assistance of anti-gun non-government advisors and it was meant to restrict gun owners.

Section 20 of the Firearms Act says:

An individual who holds a licence authorizing the individual to possess restricted firearms or handguns referred to in subsection 12/6 (pre-February 14, 1995 handguns) may be authorized to possess a particular restricted firearm or handgun at a place other than the place at which it is authorized to be possessed if the individual needs the particular restricted firearm or hand gun
(a)    to protect the life of that individual or of other individuals; or
(b)   for use in connection with his or her lawful profession or occupation.

Obviously the legislation precludes the issuance of a carry permit for the express purpose of hunting with a handgun.

For the options available, the first is open to interpretation regarding your need for protection. If you could find a sympathetic Firearms Officer who was issuing ATTs you might be able to get a permit to carry if you were on a wander into bear country. But that is unlikely as there appears to be a Canada-wide policy to ensure that this doesn’t happen. I have never heard of one being issued, but then again anyone who was that fortunate might be inclined to keep his head down and not bandy that info around too freely.

But it is possible to obtain a permit to carry a handgun for work purposes. Aside from police and security guards, you can get a permit if you are a guide-outfitter taking foreign hunters on hunting trips, or if you are a prospector or possibly a forester or similar working at backcountry sites. But if you are a honest, reliable, law-abiding, recreational handgun owner you won’t even get consideration.

In theory though, a simple change in policy within the government could allow carry permits to be issued for protection while in the bush, but a re-write of the legislation would be required to allow for an ATT to be issued specifically for the purpose of hunting.

The Conservative government has promised that they will make changes to the Firearms Act and Regulations but their minority position has made that pretty much impossible. They have specifically said they will bury the long-gun registry and have made some serious comments about making the possession licences for life rather than renewable every 5 years. They have also talked about making transport part of the possession licence and not a separate piece of paper. These changes would certainly send the right message, although they won’t go far enough for some.

Hopefully if the Conservatives manage to pull off a majority government in the anticipated federal election they can be convinced to take a serious, in-depth look at the existing legislation and make some serious and badly needed changes.

The politician as a hunter

April 7, 2007

I am always amused (and I suppose still somewhat amazed) at the mindset of politicians when they are out on the campaign trail. US presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney says that he has always been a hunter. but after being outed, Romney’s response and his campaign spokesman’s differed slightly.

In Keene, N.H., on Tuesday, Romney had said: “I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life.” The next day, the campaign said Romney hunted rabbits in Idaho with cousins as a teenager and shot quail with GOP donors at a game preserve in Georgia in 2006.

Campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said Wednesday that Romney wasn’t trying to mislead anyone, and he promoted Romney’s support of gun-ownership rights.

Support of gun-ownership rights?

Romney has also supported gun control. When he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1994 he backed the Brady law and a ban on assault-style rifles. As governor, he supported the state’s strict gun-control laws and signed into law one of the nation’s tougher assault weapons laws.

He joined the National Rifle Association last August as a “Lifetime” member.

Now there’s a record that will get him a pile of 2nd amendment supporter votes.


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