Archive for December, 2006

New York, New York!

December 31, 2006

New York is a great city to visit (although we have never been other than Manhattan), but its’ city council seems to have spent 2006 banning everything from candy cigarettes and aluminum baseball bats to pit bulls. For a large, cosmopolitan city their councillors don’t appear to be too bright.

Just deserts

December 30, 2006

Small dead animals points us to just one more story that details the evil that Saddam Hussein visited on Iraq and its’ people. Generally I’m not a supporter of capital punishment but there are some people that are so dangerous and evil that, just like a rabid dog, need to be put down. Saddam Hussein was one of those people.

Unsafe storage charge results from act of mercy

December 30, 2006

The Dec. 30th Regina Leader Post (no link) reports that while police were investigating a reported assault in the neighbourhood, an injured man came to the door of a local residence and asked them to call an ambulance. The homeowner (Ray) was not home at the time but his adult son opened the door and made the call for help. The article goes on:

When Ray tried to enter his neighbourhood later in the day the area was blocked off by city police. He said he’s frustrated because he now faces a charge of unsafe storage of a firearm, because police at his home saw firearms he had taken out to a farm for target practice that hadn’t been returned to his gun safe.“When you let someone in to use the phone to call an ambulance you don’t expect to end up having to pay,” said Ray, adding he’s most worried about the possibly of getting a criminal record.

Another indication of why you should never give easy access to your house. To anyone.

Brady Campaign rates the states

December 30, 2006

The Brady Campaign for the Prevention of Gun Violence is a notoriously anti-gun organization that has, over the years, lobbied and worked to get more stringent gun control laws enacted in the U.S.

It would like to see “one gun a month” legislation and campaigns for handgun licensing and registration (at least as a start) and is dead set against the Right to Carry laws that are being passed in many U.S. states.

But in recent weeks, they have been getting a stick in the eye.

Each year the Brady Campaign does a review of the various state’s gun laws and gives them a mark from A to F. The more user-friendly the laws are for gun owners, the lower the grade, with Right-to Carry (RTC) states consistently getting a rating from D down to F.

However an analysis done by blogger Howard Nemerov shows that RTC states do not have more violent crime and in fact that in 2005 when U.S. violent crime rates went up by 1.3%, non-RTC states increased on aggregate by 2.8% while RTC states went up by 0.6%.

Since 2001, RTC states, where more people carry guns in public, consistently average a “D”. Brady continues to be unhappy with the country’s direction regarding gun control: between 2001 and 2005, RTC states increased from 32 to 38 and Brady downgraded the U.S. average from “C-” to a “D+.” Their response is curious, since the national violent crime rate fell 7.0% during this time frame.

     Even worse for Brady, violent crime trends are not spread equally across all states. RTC states (average Brady grade “D”) saw an aggregate 7.8% drop in violent crime, while non-RTC states (average Brady grade “B”) saw a 5.2% decrease. Even when Brady grades synchronize with violent crime trends, it fails to give an accurate picture: Brady dropped the national average grade from “C-” to “D+” in 2005, the same year that the violent crime rate increased 1.3%. This would seem to make sense, as a lower grade is supposed to reflect less safety for citizens. Unfortunately for Brady, most of that increase occurred in non-RTC states, which saw an aggregate increase of 2.8%, while RTC states increased 0.6%. Using Brady’s criteria of grading each state as an equivalent entity, non-RTC states averaged a 5.6% increase in violent crime, while RTC states averaged a 0.6% increase. Since 2001, the violent crime differential between RTC and non-RTC states increased from 26.0% to 27.5%, meaning that RTC states are becoming relatively more law-abiding compared to non-RTC states.

Some more anaysis here

The Brady Campaign kind of ends up with egg on its’ face. Makes you wonder if they even looked at the state crime stats or if they just figured they would bluff their way through.

Also an interesting comment by the president of the Brady Campaign here. He must count on the fact that he thinks that people are flat-out stupid.

Gift cards used to launder money

December 27, 2006

Police are saying that cash gift cards can be used by criminals and terrorists to launder money, which will be used to finance their activities.

The problem cards are not the gift cards that you purchase at your favourite department store but a newer cash card as they explain here:

Prepaid cards have grown rapidly into a $63.4 billion business. There are two kinds. So-called closed-system cards can be used only at the retailers that issue them. The newer open-system cards, in contrast, can be used at almost any retailer. Better yet, you can use many as ATM cards and withdraw the amount you put on the card anywhere in the world. Sunoco, Rite Aid and Safeway, among others, all sell these open-system cards, and will replenish them as well.

One of the continuing arguments the “gun ban” crowd uses is that guns are (or could be) used illegally, therefore there should be more and more regulations and legislation right up to complete bans. So if these gift cards are being used in criminal activities will someone be pushing the federal government to limit their use, or force people using them to register their purchase or outright make them illegal?

Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the police working behind the scenes to get some kind of formal paper trail established which would enable them to track transactions.

Some further commentary on night hunting

December 26, 2006

The National Post has some editorial comments on the Supreme Court decision on aboriginal night hunting. Although some of their reasoning may resonate with non-native hunters (ie: fair chase) it probably won’t make much of an inroad with the native community. In reality, so much of this battle has to do with simple politics and not the need/right of natives to hunt at night using lights. It all comes down to who has the power and who makes the rules.

Merry Christmas to all!

December 25, 2006

Wishing everyone who passes this way a very merry Christmas and all the best in the coming year.

May common sense prevail in 2007.
(On second thought that may be too much to hope for.)

You can’t talk about guns and self defence in Canada

December 25, 2006

Vancouver school trustee, Sharon Gregson, has come out of the closet and admitted the unthinkable. She is a gun owner and a competitive shooter! Not only that. She has applied for a Utah concealed carry permit and thinks that a Canadian discussion about self-defence would be a worthwhile exercise, Even worse, she made the statement that if someone in the Engineering classroom at Montreal’s Polytechnique had been armed when Mark Lepine went on his murderous rampage there was a good chance that he could have been stopped before he killed the 14 young women.

John Les, B.C.s’s Solicitor General, immediately jumped into the fray, saying that Gregson had “crossed the line by advocating that she and other Canadians be allowed to carry concealed guns as can be done in many U.S. states”. On Gregson’s argument that it should be easier to obtain permits for concealed carry, particularly in the case of women who feel threatened, Les continued his rant saying, “I don’t care whether it’s a U.S. state or a Canadian province. I just don’t think it’s necessary to be carrying a concealed handgun. Full stop, period”.

Crossed the line? Les sounds more like a federal Liberal than a member of the provincial Liberal party. Or is that really the provincial Liberal position?

Of course the Coalition for Gun Control’s Wendy Cuckier was also polled for her reaction and of course was “appalled” and said that Gregson was sending out a “dangerous message by advocating putting guns into the hands of more women”.

Maybe “dangerous” to Cuckier’s agenda.

It’s fascinating to see how the debate – if you can call it that – plays out.

Gregson says, “What I’m advocating for is, at least, a discussion in Canada about where we want to be in the long term around guns, so that we are formulating our public policy based on research and experience, not on an automatic knee-jerk reaction that guns are bad”.

Cuckier says, “I don’t think think we need to have a wider debate about carrying concealed weapons and handguns for self protection. It runs contrary to Canadian tradition and it certainly runs contrary to Canadian law”.

Translation: I don’t agree with it, ergo I don’t want to talk about it.

What I would like to know is when self defence became a bad thing in Canada. Who in hell made that decision for us?

I also get the distinct feeling that there is a mindset amongst some people that would rather see people dead than be given the opportunity to defend themselves.

And isn’t it odd that a Canadian citizen can get a concealed carry permit in the U.S. while you can’t even talk about self defence in Canada without coming under attack. Doesn’t it seem even stranger that the U.S. government trusts Canadian citizens more than our own government?

Supreme Court of Canada night hunting judgment

December 22, 2006

When I first read the judgment from the Supreme Court on night hunting by aboriginals my initial thought was, “what are they smoking in the judge’s chambers? After I had read the judgment I modified that to “what were four of the judges smoking in chambers”?

The story is that in 1996, two members of  the Tsarlip Indian Band on Vancouver Island had been charged and eventually convicted of  hunting deer at night, which is illegal, due to safety reasons, right across Canada and the U.S.

Arguing that they had traditionally hunted at night with lights they challenged their conviction based on the argument that their treaty rights were being infringed.

This argument was based on the fact that their band was covered under the North Saanich Treaty of 1852, that guaranteed that the Saanich Tribe “are at liberty, to hunt over the unoccupied lands, and carry on our fisheries as formerly”. The key word being “formerly”. They argued that because it was part of their hunting tradition, that they were guaranteed to be able to continue this method of hunting. 

In a split 4 to 3 decision the Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal and set aside the convictions.

The four assenting Justices, Binnie, Deschamps, Abella and Charron agreed that there was no treaty right to “hunt dangerously”, but that “British Columbia is a very large province, and it cannot plausibly be said that a night hunt with illumination is unsafe everywhere and in all circumstances …”.

The esteemed judges did concede that “if a night hunt is dangerous in particular circumstances, it can (and should) be prosecuted …”.

That makes the Conservation Officer’s job much tougher. Unless someone is lying on the ground dead or there is a bullet hole through the kitchen window, who’s to say the circumstances weren’t safe?

A nice touch was their concept of the northern part of the province:

The blanket prohibition of s. 27(1)(d) and (e) applies, of course, throughout British Columbia, including the vast regions of the interior. Much of the north of the province is uninhabited except by aboriginal people, and there are areas where even they are seen only occasionally.   To conclude that night hunting with illumination is dangerous everywhere in the province does not accord with reality and is not, with respect, a sound basis for limiting the treaty right.

I get the impression that their view of British Columbia is a roadless wilderness north of Prince George or possibly even the Okanagan.

In the dissenting view by Justices McLachlin, Bastarache and Fish, they state:

When the Douglas Treaty was signed, hunting at night was not uncommon. Nor was it particularly dangerous.  It would not have been surprising had both the Crown and the North Saanich aboriginals contemplated that the aboriginals would continue to hunt at night.  At the time, this practice did not pose the same dangers as it does today (which dangers will be explained in detail below).  And the parties may not have even had reason to anticipate that the dangers would grow.  But they could not have believed that the right to hunt included a right to hunt dangerously.  To impute that belief to them would do injustice to both parties and, would in addition, defy common sense.

Unfortunately, their arguments did not carry the day.

There is always talk in cases such as this that the changes in technology should be taken into consideration. Birchbark torches being replaced by high-power lights, canoes and horse by trucks and ATVs and the bow and arrow by high power rifle with scopes. But this judgment speaks very clearly to that opinion:

 From 1852 to the present, the tools used by the Tsartlip in hunting at night have evolved.  From sticks with pitch to spotlights and from canoes to trucks, the tools and methods employed in night hunting have changed over time.  These changes do not diminish the rights conferred by the Treaty.  The right of the Tsartlip to hunt at night with illuminating devices has of necessity evolved from its pre-treaty tools to its current implements. 

and:

This approach has led the Court in other cases to acknowledge, for example, that hunting with a rifle and ammunition is the current form of an evolving right whose origins were hunting with a bow and arrow (Simon v. The Queen, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 387), and that a treaty right to erect a log cabin for hunting purposes flows from the former use of mossy lean-to shelters (R. v. Sundown, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 393).

It is worthwhile to read through the complete judgment to gain an insight into how the judicial mind works. Personally, I think that the dissenting three got it right, but that is the risk every time you go into court. Whether it is local or Supreme, you never know how it is going to play out.

RCMP: The continuing story

December 20, 2006

The federal government has chosen an Acting Commissioner to carry on in the wake of Commissioner Zaccardelli’s resignation. Deputy RCMP Commissioner Beverley Busson, the first female commissioner has stepped into the position for the interim during the search for a permanent replacement. Apparently Busson has indicated that she does not want the job on a permanent basis. Probably a good move as the incoming commissioner will be under the microscope from day one.

In an article in the Globe and Mail, Jeff Sallot asks if the RCMP culture can be changed. He details the recommendations of the commission of inquiry and speculates how the reforms recommended by Justice O’Connor might have protected Maher Arar from his ordeal

I think that any change to the way the RCMP operates will be difficult to enact. Police forces in general are notably insular and the RCMP is not just an ordinary police force. It is also a federal bureaucracy. Turning it around will be akin to shoving a freight train off its’ track

As well, incidents like this don’t help the Mounties’ PR campaign.


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