Archive for October, 2009

Justice takes a back seat in the case of Toronto grocer

October 24, 2009

This story is wrong on so many levels.

Charges against the Chinatown grocer who tackled, bound and held a man stealing from his store still stand – and Wang (David) Chen won’t find out for another two weeks whether the prosecution will drop the most serious of four criminal offences he’s facing.

“I’m disappointed,” Mr. Chen said in court at Old City Hall Thursday. “The charges should have been withdrawn.”

Mr. Chen and two of his employees are facing charges of assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement and concealment of a weapon after they apprehended a man who had stolen from Mr. Chen’s Lucky Moose market earlier the same day.

Anthony Bennett pleaded guilty to two charges of theft in August – one in relation to Mr. Chen’s store, and another for stealing from a plant shop on King Street West. He got a lighter sentence for agreeing to testify as a Crown witness in the case against Mr. Chen, the store owner who caught him.

Lorne Gunter in his National Post column sums it up neatly.

Crown prosecutors always signal who they want most by making deals with the other accused in a case for their testimony against the most-desired target. Mr. Bennett, who has a criminal record for drugs and theft going back 33 years, got a lighter sentence (30 days, plus 15 days time served) in return for acting as a government witness against Mr. Chen. Prosecutors cannot see the distortion of justice inherent in letting go a habitual criminal — a man who for years has harassed and stolen from shopkeepers in Mr. Chen’s Toronto neighbourhood — just so they can win a conviction against a law-abiding citizen who grew tired of police and court inaction and decided to exercise his ancient rights to self-defence and citizen’s arrest.

The message this sends is that the Crown is more determined to discourage citizens from getting involved in local justice than it is in stopping thefts. It is more interested in the rights of criminals than the safety of ordinary Canadians and their property.

Something is significantly wrong with our justice system when a known thief is allowed to plea bargain for a lesser sentence by testifying against the man that he robbed.

When I first read about the case I figured that Mr. Chen was in trouble because he didn’t apprehend the culprit in the act of stealing his property but actually caught him some time later, as explained here.

Under the Criminal Code, a person must find someone in the act of committing a crime for a citizen’s arrest to be legal.

If the kidnapping charge is not withdrawn the case will be argued in front of a jury and a Constitutional challenge will be launched, Lindsay said.

“Arguably, under our current citizen’s arrest, you can’t arrest (the shoplifter) because he’s not actually committing a crime, even though you have excellent evidence that an hour earlier he committed a crime, including store surveillance video that shows the whole thing,” he said.

The same article also details the plea bargain details.

Bennett pleaded guilty to two counts of theft in August. The Crown wanted a 90-day sentence but offered him 30 days because he agreed to testify against Chen. With time served, he was out after 10 days.

The actions by the prosecutor are reprehensible, but it certainly sends a signal that you are at the mercy of the bad guys because if you try to defend your property you’ll get the book thrown at you while the perpetrator will get off with a slap on the wrist,

Isn’t it time that we put justice back into the justice system?

(more…)

Banning body armour to stop crime

October 22, 2009

British Columbia in its ongoing battle to fight crime has decided to ban body armour. The rationale, according to Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Kash Heed is (I think) public safety.

Heed said the bill, the first of its kind in Canada, would mean gang members “will no longer be able to hide behind body armour.”

“Police see it all too often,” said Heed in a release. “The gang member or organized criminal is out on our streets and in our neighbourhoods while hiding behind the added protection of bulletproof vests, as innocent bystanders remain unprotected and vulnerable.

“By taking away criminals’ sense of security, we decrease the potential for violence in public settings.”

Please……give me a break.

As usual, the politicians get it backwards or maybe they just spin these things thinking the public is too stupid to recognize bullshit when they hear it.

Are we to believe that these gangbangers put on body armour and then go into public places to start a shoot-out?

Or could it be that because they have rivals out to kill them they put on body armour to hopefully survive an attack.

It seems to me that if the police think that they can “decrease the potential for violence in public settings” by banning body armour they could also keep those big time drug dealers off the roads and stop drive-by shootings by banning those big, black, Cadillac SUVs that seem so popular to the trade.

The U.S. is apparently more honest in their legislation against the use of body armour.  Although the article states that the US has similar legislation, that is apparently not the case.

The Canadian legislation is a blanket prohibition that makes it illegal for anyone not licensed to own or sell the product.

The Body Armour Control Act would:

• Place controls on the possession of body armour by allowing police to seize it from those unauthorized to own it;

• Create a licensing program for businesses and their employees who sell body armour, as part of the Security Services Act;

• Require those trying to buy body armour to get a permit proving a reasonable need for owning it; and,

• Require applicants to undergo a criminal-record check.

Anyone found with unlicensed armour could be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to six months. A business illegally selling the protective equipment could face fines up to $100,000, and the business owner could also go to jail for up to six months.

So the Canadian law manufactures criminals.

While the US legislation according to Wikipedia (if Wiki can be trusted for factual info these days) limits the ban to convicted felons and the like.

United States law restricts possession of body armor for convicted violent felons. Many U.S. states also have penalties for possession or use of body armor by felons. In other states, such as Kentucky, possession is not prohibited, but probation or parole is denied for a person convicted of certain violent crimes while wearing body armor and carrying a deadly weapon.

The U.S. law targets existing criminals.

Regardless, I can see why the police want a blanket ban on body armour.

They don’t want to find themselves in a fire fight with an opponent who is wearing the stuff. The police are looking for a tactical advantage, which is understandable from their point of view.

They also want another reason to be able to arrest and charge that part of the population that they associate with the use of body armour, namely the drug dealing crowd. More to the point, the upper echelon of that business.

Anyway, its not that the government is going to get any flack over the wording of the legislation as there are few if any law-abiding citizens who would feel the need to deck themselves out in this regalia.

But the ban won’t stop these guys from wearing this gear, any more than the guns laws don’t stop them from illegally owning and carrying firearms, or the anti-drug laws don’t stop them from dealing, or the criminal code deters them from committing murder.

So don’t feed me the crap that this legislation will improve public safety, deter criminal behaviour or even stop the wearing of body armour. If you’re worried that one of your business rivals is going to take a shot at you, a fine or even a short jail sentence is going to look to be a far better option than a trip to the morgue.

But in the world of politics the government gets to pass another law showing they’re trying to do something about crime, the police get another tool they want and life goes on as before.

Trends in Homicide Rates in Canada

October 14, 2009

The following graph is courtesy of Dr. Gary Mauser from his research. It tells a tale.

Homicide-trend

Why not handgun hunting in Canada?

October 13, 2009

Let’s indulge in  bit of fantasy.

Lets say the federal government re-writes the Firearms Act and makes it possible to get licensed to carry a handgun into the backcountry. So you think, ‘maybe I could pot a grouse for supper, or wonder of wonders, hunt for Whitetail with a handgun’. Not going to happen, even if the feds were to suddenly see the light.?.

And why?

Because the majority of the provinces prohibit hunting with a handgun.

How?

Good question. And the answer is …… that all of the provincial hunting regulations ban the hunting of game with handguns either explicitly or through definition of what constitutes a firearm for the purpose of hunting.

New Brunswick Fish and Wildlife Act

No ban found on the use of handguns in hunting.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hunting Synopsis

No ban found on the use of handguns in hunting.

Nova Scotia Hunting Synopsis

During the general seasons for hunting deer, moose, and bear, holders of appropriate licences may use: • a rifle and ammunition of .23 calibre or greater; • a shotgun of 28, 20, 16, 12 or 10 gauge, using a single projectile; • a muzzle loaded firearm of .45 calibre or greater; or • a bow with a draw weight of 50 pounds or greater within the draw length of the archer when hunting moose and 40 pounds or greater within the draw length of the archer when hunting big game other than moose; and any arrow fitted with a broadhead. (Handguns specifically omitted).

Prince Edward Island Wildlife Act

No ban found on the use of handguns in hunting.

Ontario Hunting Synopsis

Firearms include rifles, shotguns, air or pellet guns, bows and crossbows. You may use semi-automatic or repeating firearms for hunting in Ontario, but not handguns or fully automatic firearms. Air and pellet pistols with a muzzle velocity less than 500 feet per second may be used for hunting in Ontario.

Manitoba Wildlife Act

Except as may be otherwise permitted by this Act or the regulations, no person shall capture, kill or take or attempt to capture, kill or take a wild animal, other than a fur bearing animal, an amphibian or a reptile, by means other than a rifle, shotgun, cross bow or bow and arrow. (Handguns specifically omitted)

BC Hunting Synopsis

It is illegal to hunt with a handgun in BC. (Page 9)

Alberta

It is unlawful to

5. set out, use or employ any of the following items for the purpose of hunting any wildlife:

  • A pistol or revolver.

Saskatchewan

No ban found on the use of handguns in hunting.

Quebec Hunting Synopsis

“…. “firearms” means rifles, shotguns and muzzle-loading firearms authorized, according to the species”.

Yukon

It is unlawful to hunt big game with a

  • Pistol or a revolver.

Northwest Territories

No ban found on the use of handguns in hunting.

Nunavut

Unable to find current regulations.

Six out of ten provinces ban the possibility of hunting with a handgun as well as one of the three Territories. (I am assuming that Nunavut does not have any restrictions written into their hunting regulations).

It is also possible that there is something in the three provinces that I have listed (Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, PEI and Saskatchewan) as having no specific restrictions against using a handgun for hunting purposes that I missed.

It would be interesting to hear the rationale that the other seven provinces and the Yukon have for singling out handguns as not acceptable for hunting. In some cases it might be just ignorance, where instead of using the term ‘firearms’ they speak to specifics, such as rifles and shotguns. But if you say that you can only hunt with a rifle or a shotgun, you have eliminated the possibility of using a handgun simply by default.

In the case of British Columbia, the restriction against hunting with a handgun showed up, out of the blue, in the regulations a number of years ago. It was put into the regulations, I believe, by one individual in the Ministry of Environment with no consultation even though there was a process in place to review with stakeholders any changes that the Ministry was contemplating. The reason given when queried was that some (anonymous) gun club had threatened to start hunting with handguns so the Ministry was compelled to put the ban in place.

This explanation was too ludicrous to be believable.

Firstly, anyone contemplating this would not be able to obtain a transport permit from the feds to carry a handgun into the backcountry and therefore would be in breach of the law under the Federal Firearms Act. Secondly, it shouldn’t be in the purview of Ministry staff to even make that kind of decision – and certainly not without consultation.

It seemed more like it was done by someone with a personal agenda.

On the other hand, the fact that 7 out of 10 provinces have regulations to keep handguns out of the hunting fields may not be a coincidence. A number of years ago a Ministry staff member told me that there was pressure being applied to all of the provinces to write a ban on the use of handguns into their respective regulations. He didn’t expand on that statement to say where the pressure was coming from and unfortunately I didn’t take it any further, but if he was correct it would appear that someone had an agenda.

What is particularly frustrating is that although a regulation can be added very simply – in this case by an individual in a key position, it is far more difficult – read almost impossible – to get it removed. It requires a request to the Minister and his committee, made up of MLAs from both parties, who are normally reluctant to remove an existing regulation unless there is a advocate at the table to make the point.

Thus even though there have been efforts to get this regulation removed from the B.C. hunting regulations it remains in place.

So in six of the provinces and one Territory we remain in a catch-22 situation. We cannot hunt with a handgun because the Federal Firearms Act makes no provision for a transport permit for that purpose. And in the unlikely event (at least at the present time) that the feds might modify the Act for transport permits that would allow for handgun hunting, the provincial regulations would provide another barrier.

You can’t win for losing.

The evolution of the American hunting rifle

October 10, 2009

Obama awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for future considerations

October 10, 2009

I’m not sure when the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize jumped the shark for me, but it was probably when they gave it to Yasser Arafat in 1994. But by comparison, Arafat’s selection appears rational compared to the just announced award of the prize to U.S. President Barack Obama.

The choice was so bizarre, that much of the reaction seems to range from bewilderment to cynical amusement.

In a stunning announcement, Millard Fillmore Senior High School chose Shawn Rabinowitz, an incoming junior, as next year’s valedictorian. The award was made, the valedictorian committee announced from Norway of all places, on the basis of “Mr. Rabinowitz’s intention to ace every course and graduate number one in class.” In a prepared statement, young Shawn called the unprecedented award, “f—ing awesome.”

At the same time, and amazingly enough, the Pulitzer Prize for Literature went to Sarah Palin for her stated intention “to read a book someday.” The former Alaska governor was described as “floored” by the award, announced in Stockholm by nude Swedes beating themselves with birch branches, and insisted that while she was very busy right now, someday she would make good on her vow to read a book. “You’ll see,” she said from her winter home in San Diego.

And again in a stunning coincidence, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar for best picture will be given this year to the Vince Vaughn vehicle “Guys Weekend to Burp,” which is being story-boarded at the moment but looks very good indeed. Mr. Vaughn, speaking through his publicist, said he was “touched and moved” by the award and would do everything in his power to see that the picture lives up to expectation and opens big sometime next March.

At the same press conferences, the Academy announced that the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award would go this year to Britney Spears for her intention to “spend whatever it takes to save the whales.” The Academy recognized that Spears had not yet saved a single whale, but it felt strongly that it was the intention that counted most. Spears, who was leaving a club at the time, told People magazine that she would not want to live in “a world without whales.” People put it on the cover.

There was serious commentary as well, but little of it supportive.

The award of this year’s Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself.

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

I hope that President Obama will be able accept this award with a straight face.

Thanks to Instapundit for many links to this story.

Police confiscating guns from lapsed license holders

October 6, 2009

Toronto police have just put “paid” to the often repeated denial that the Federal Firearms Act – AKA Bill C-68 – would be used to confiscate firearms from legitimate firearm owners.

While drug dealers and gang bangers are prowling the streets of Hogtown, Toronto’s finest are riveted to their computers, looking for gun owners who have allowed their firearm ownership licenses to expire.

What we are now seeing is the natural progression of legislation that was written with the intent to harass and penalize  honest gun owners.

Toronto’s gun confiscation program is being sold under the name of Project Safe City

They used to be legal firearms, but now they’re either unregistered or outright banned, and they’re wanted by police before there’s a chance burglars put them in Toronto’s underground and underworld markets.

Since March 1, Project Safe City swept 400 unregistered weapons — 150 of them handguns — from homes throughout the city. No charges were filed.

It’s part of a plan to ensure that neglected firearms don’t fall into criminal hands, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said yesterday.

Police are reviewing thousands of gun ownership files to determine which weapons have lapsed registrations and which are now banned, he said.

Owners can surrender the weapons for destruction or, if they can be registered, police will hold them until the owners comply with gun laws, Supt. Greg Getty said.

In good faith, Canadian gun owners complied with the new federal law to license themselves in order to legally own those firearms that they had freely held, in some cases for generations. They also complied with the new law to register their existing firearms, so the government and the police would have a detailed list of everything that they owned.

What many and probably most gun owners did not recognize was that they now owned their firearms conditionally at the whim of the politicians and the bureaucrats. And if they inadvertently or through some misunderstanding, at the end of the license’s  expiry date failed to renew the paperwork, they became instant criminals in possession of illegal firearms who could be criminally charged and have their firearms confiscated.

This is what the Toronto gun owners have experienced – police officers at their doors telling them that they have illegal firearms in their homes. Illegal, not because of misuse by their owners or by the fact that these people are a danger to the public, but because their paperwork has expired.

Toronto police superintendent Greg Getty arrogantly says that the individuals who had their guns confiscated agreed to their destruction because the “didn’t want them”. It would be interesting to know just how they were approached.

I can only imagine the intimidation factor when you find a couple of police officers on your doorstep telling you that you are the holder of illegal firearms which they are there to confiscate.

It would seem obvious that those officers continued into the house to personally collect those guns as the police were eager to inform the media that some of these guns were illegally stored. Police being police, I can’t imagine them letting the gun owner go off by him/herself and bring the gun back to the officer at the front door. No, they would want to be taken to where the firearm was located and retrieve it themselves. And if it wasn’t “safely stored” under their definition I am sure they would have pointed out to the hapless citizen that they were in breech of the law on that account.

I would also be surprised if they explained to the person that under the terms of the government amnesty they were protected against prosecution and could in fact renew their Possession Only License (POL) very simply and at no cost and would not have to go through the much more onerous process of obtaining a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL).

After all, the real intent of these raids was to confiscate and destroy the firearms they found, –  if at all possible – not to return them to their owners. Because, in the view of the police and their political masters, these firearms were a danger to the public just by being there, and it was just a convenience that the owners, by allowing their licenses to lapse, made that possible.


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