Archive for November, 2007

Old Toronto gun owners the new target

November 20, 2007

Apparently based on pressure from the Toronto police department, Ontario’s Chief Firearms Officer has sent letters to selected firearms owners telling them that they will be contacted for home inspection under sections 102 and 105 of the Federal Firearms Act.

The criteria for the people picked for these inspections?

  • They are 75 years of age or older.
  • They are residents of the city of Toronto
  • They own 30 or more firearms.

The CFO has initiated this program because the Toronto police say that there have been cases where a senior has gone to a nursing home or has died and the guns were subsequently discovered by family or a landlord.

During the inspection the inspector will reportedly check for proper storage, correct paper work and assess the mental competence of the firearm owner.

The history of police interpretations as to what constitutes ‘safe storage’ is enough to make you very nervous about who comes into your house to do the inspection.

There is no word as to whether the inspector will do medical examinations to determine which of those so chosen are close to passing on to that big shooting range in the sky.

No doubt the inspectors will also be fully competent to make an assessment of the mental competence of the gun owners as well.

If you are one of the lucky old-timers who gets the nod, will they want to check your Last Will and Testament to determine whether provisions have been made to pass those bad old firearms on to someone when the end comes?

This is such a stupid move on the part of the Ontario CFO it is hard to understand why he proceeded without any discussion with outside groups. Arrogance always comes into the picture of course. I’m not really sure who the hell the provincial CFOs actually answer to. Maybe God, and only by appointment.

Then of course there is the question of why 30 guns? Why not 20 or 25 or even 40? Do they have certain individuals in mind? Is someone dying with 30 guns in possession more of a problem to the Toronto police than someone with 20?

Or is this intended to be just the first step with the program to be extended at a later date.

No answers, just questions.

Eternal vigilance my friends.

Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems

November 14, 2007

Back in May I commented briefly on the multiple shooting in Franconia, New Hampshire, where a 24 year old man by the name of Liko Kenney shot and killed Cpl. Bruce McKay a police officer who had pulled him over, ostensibly for speeding. Kenney was subsequently shot and killed by a passerby, Gregory Floyd.

The initial news articles did not cover the incident in any depth. They pretty much read as: Young, troubled man shoots police officer in the back and is then shot and killed by civilian hero who stops to assist officer.

Of course it was never as simple as that.

It turned out that Kenney and McKay had some history between them with Kenney complaining of harassment.

The video from the police car only shows part of the story.

It shows Cpl. McKay, appearing to gratuitously pepper spray Kenney and then turning his back on him and walking away. Then Kenney shooting the officer, although McKay is off camera at the time. Kenney then drives his car out of the range of the camera and the rest of the incident plays out unrecorded.

Gregory Floyd was initially portrayed as a hero and there is no question that he stepped into the situation and took charge when he saw the police officer go down. But some of the ‘hero’ image washed away when Floyd turned out to be not as upstanding a character as originally presented.

West then references an incident at Floyd’s home in 1997, when a scuffle with a meter reader led to state police coming to Floyd’s home, where he threatened three state police and was arrested for being a felon in possession of firearms. The case ended up being dismissed in court later, court records show.

West was one of the three state troopers who Floyd had threatened to give a third eye. West asks Floyd in the interview the night of the Kenney and McKay shootings about his use of firearms since that arrest, and he said he did some shooting on Prince Edward Island within the past year, and his wife owns a gun, but he does not.

The interview of Floyd by the police along with their comments is interesting as well.

Floyd spoke to the police three hours after the shooting and recalled it in detail, but his details changed as the interview went on. And sometimes Floyd’s account was inconsistent with other evidence.

He was sure McKay was driving a police car. McKay had a SUV. He remembered the location of Kenney’s and McKay’s vehicles incorrectly; he said McKay’s front end was against Kenney’s back end, but the vehicles were nose-to-nose.

More significantly, Floyd initially told the police at least twice that he shot Kenney without saying a word to him. Later, Floyd said he saw Kenney trying to reload his gun and told him to stop. Later yet, Floyd said he was screaming at Kenney to “either put (the gun) down or you’re gonna die.”

Floyd did not tell the police that after Kenney was dead, he screamed at Kenney’s passenger to hand him Kenney’s gun. Nor did he tell the police that the passenger told Floyd he was afraid he would kill him too. Floyd also left out any mention of his boasting that he’d shot many people before and was on medication that might spare him punishment.

Nor did he mention firing McKay’s gun into the air as a warning to Kenney’s passenger.

And Floyd told the police that after the shootings, he waited for the police to arrive before placing the guns in his hands, McKay’s and Kenney’s, on the grass. The police officer who first saw Floyd after the shootings recalled their interaction very differently.

The police officer said he had to tell Floyd several times to lower the guns. The officer said when Floyd finally did put the guns down, he told the officer, “Easy son, I’m quicker than you.”

Yesterday, Jeff Strelzin, chief of the homicide unit in the state attorney general’s office, said it’s not uncommon for witnesses in stressful situations to have different accounts or even changing accounts. “No matter what case it is, we will also get some discrepancies,” Strelzin said. “People have different vantage points. They are perceiving things differently. They are experiencing different stress.”

Discrepancies do not necessarily mean someone is lying, he said.

For example, Floyd’s son, who was with Floyd in their truck, told the police he saw Kenney giving McKay the middle finger early into the stop. The video camera in McKay’s police SUV tells a different story. While Kenney may appear from a distance to be gesturing with his middle finger, the video shows he is instead pointing south, toward Easton, in an effort to have McKay let him drive on.

“It’s not that he’s lying or misrepresenting,” Strelzin said of Floyd’s son. “He’s mistaken.”

Strelzin said the state police and prosecutors from his office investigated the shootings of McKay and Kenney thoroughly throughout the night. By the next afternoon, when Ayotte cleared Floyd of wrongdoing, they had witness accounts from the two Floyds and Kenney’s passenger as well as others nearby. They also had physical evidence, namely an empty gun clip in Kenney’s car showing that he had reloaded and bullet holes and shell casings to account for the fired shots.

Strezlin said while some of the finer details didn’t match, the witnesses’ general version of events matched and lined up with the physical evidence. It also ruled out other theories. For example, some in town complained after the shooting that Floyd had endangered Kenney’s passenger by firing a gun at his feet. The passenger did not report that in his police interview (he actually said Floyd had done a “great thing” helping McKay). And the evidence at the scene showed the shots had been fired in different directions, not at the passenger.

In New Hampshire, a person is allowed to use deadly force to protect himself or another person if they both cannot retreat to safety. Given what witnesses and evidence told about the shooting scenes, Ayotte determined that Floyd believed McKay and possibly himself faced an imminent threat. And McKay had no hope of getting to safety because he was pinned under Kenney’s car.

For those reasons Ayotte said Floyd was justified.

Next she considered Floyd’s illegal use of a firearm. State law includes a “competing harms” statute that says a person will not be punished for breaking a law if he does so to avoid a greater harm to himself or another.

Floyd didn’t arrive on the scene with a gun and grabbed McKay’s only after McKay was badly injured and in danger, Ayotte concluded. He was justified there too, she decided.

Unfortunately, no one comes across as being a very sympathetic character in this and in the end we’ll never know exactly why anyone did what they did. To some Lilo Kenney was just a good kid who had made some bad choices and was trying to get his life together. To others he was dangerous and unpredictable. Some saw Cpl. Bruce McKay as a bully and a vindictive officer while many spoke highly of him. Gregory Floyd stepped into a dangerous situation in order to assist a downed police officer, but his past history, after-the-fact comments and his actions in shooting Kenney leave many questioning his motives.

We’ll never know why McKay pepper sprayed Kenney and his passenger and then turned his back and walked away or why Kenney reacted by shooting the officer. Fear? Anger?

Regardless, two men are dead and their family and friends are in pain. A tragic incident that probably never should have happened.

Shake Hands With The Devil

November 2, 2007

Last night we went to the movie, Shake Hands with the Devil, the documentary based on Romeo Dallaire’s book of the same name on his experience as the head of the ill-fated UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda.

A very powerful movie that, among other things, points out how ineffectual and corrupt the United Nations is.

In an interview with Mother Jones, Dallaire was asked why he thought the UN was unwilling to reinforce his mission and send him more support. Dallaire answered:

It became very obvious very soon from the office of the DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations], from Kofi Annan and them. No one — absolutely no one — gave a damn. Or, to put it another way, no one wanted to risk soldiers in another “African adventure” where the country was of absolutely no strategic importance to anyone. So they simply applied the “Mogadishu rule,” that, unless it’s in your self-interest, you don’t go and waste resources or risk your people in these conflicts. So led by the Americans, and supported by the British and the French at the time, they simply pulled out and decided not to come back.

It is hard to believe that 800,000 Rwandans were murdered over 100 days and no one in power gave a damn.

Although it was never mentioned in the film, it showed in graphic detail how helpless civilians are when they have no means to protect themselves against the violence perpetrated against them, their families and their neighbours. In this case the rebels and the government both had arms but the citizens who just wanted to go about their lives had nothing and were butchered with no chance to resist.

Another history lesson that we choose to ignore.

Quebec and protecting the public

November 2, 2007

I have been thinking about how hypocritical the letter to handgun owners from the Quebec CFO (last post) is.

The first paragraph says:

Following the events that took place at Dawson College in September of 2006, the public authorities began to take steps designed in respect of these developments, to protect the safety of the residents of Quebec. New initiatives have been put into place to help prevent these acts of violence which have created suffering and concern that has affected all of us. Under these circumstances following the announcement of the Minister of Public Safety, on June 15, 2007 this letter is being sent to bring to your attention concerns about the purpose for possession of restricted firearm(s) and/or prohibited handgun(s) within the framework of the Firearms Act.

I wonder how the safety of the public is enhanced by this “new initiative”.

The deranged killer at Dawson College owned his firearms legally and reportedly attended a shooting range which would mean that he would have been in compliance anyway. Although it was noted in one article that he was in violation of the law by not having a transport permit to take his guns to the college. Right. He was also in violation of the law by murdering a person and wounding a number of others.

But then it is always easy for the authorities to put into effect laws and regulations that leave the perception that they are doing something useful even when there is no sense to it at all.

Quebec’s latest shot at gun owners

November 1, 2007

Apparently the Quebec Provincial Police have sent out letters to handgun owners whom they have identified in their data base as not having a purpose listed for why they own those restricted or prohibited firearms.

The recipients of the letter are told that due to the Dawson College shooting back in September, 2006, “new initiatives have been put into place” in order to protect the safety of Quebec residents. One of these initiatives, apparently, is to ensure that handgun owners are on record as having a valid reason to own their firearms within the narrow range of criteria allowed by the Federal Firearms Act.

The letter notes that there are four reasons stated within the Federal Firearms Act for owning a handgun. These are:

  • For use in target practice; (To qualify here you have to prove that you belong to a shooting club).
  • To form part of a gun collection of the individual; (This one requires that you have to prove to the Chief Firearms Officer that you have sufficient knowledge to be a collector)
  • To protect the life of an individual; (You can pretty much write off this one)
  • For use in connection with a lawful profession or occupation; (Limited options here).

The individuals receiving the letters are told that they have 30 days to choose one of those options and relay that information to the CFO. If the individual fails to comply with this order, they are told that the Registrar of Firearms will be notified that he or she has no valid purpose for the possession of the firearm and they will be forced to dispose of their property, either by selling or giving it away or turning it over to the police for destruction. A further option is to have it professionally de-activated turning it into an expensive paperweight.

 

And here we were told that registration didn’t mean confiscation. Of course that has already been proven to be a lie.

Of course Quebec has been an unfriendly environment for gun owners for some time now, a virus that has now spread to Ontario. I wonder when Ontario handgun owners will be getting similar letters.

Or, God forbid, other provinces as well.


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