Posts Tagged ‘BC body armour law’

Banning body armour: Another bright government initiative

March 22, 2010

Back in October of 2009 I wrote a post on the intent of British Columbia’s provincial government to pass legislation that would make body armour illegal for anyone other than a selected few – police and the like. Anyone else wearing it would be committing a criminal offense.

The move was supported and promoted (of course) by the police lobby as a great benefit to their crime fighting efforts.

At the time, I thought (and still do) that it was typically stupid legislation. But from the politician’s point of view it would allow them to say that they were being proactive in fighting crime, although in actuality the legislation would do nothing to reduce crime and violence on the streets. It would however manufacture a whole new class of criminal: body armour wearers – whether they were involved in actual criminal activities or not.

It was a given that the B.C . legislation as proposed would go through if the government wanted to proceed as it was unlikely that there would be much active opposition, as it would affect very few people on a personal level.

That seems to have been been the case, as the bill has passed 3rd reading in the provincial legislature, although it doesn’t appear to have been proclaimed yet.

Now a similar bill is being proposed in Alberta and it is interesting to see that at least one commentator has similar views about the need or value of this kind of legislation.

Body armour can in no reasonable way be described as a threat to public safety.

It is not a weapon.

The only form of self-defence more passive is curling up into a ball and begging for mercy.

If the province is determined to restrict convicted gang members from owning body armour, then let them pass a law allowing the Crown to ask a judge to make that ruling as part of post-incarceration conditions, such as existing restrictions on firearms ownership.

Further, it seems monstrously draconian to allow sales of body armour to only cops, EMTs and security guards.

The list of those able to purchase body armour should at the very least include any individual without a criminal record.

Can the province of Alberta in good conscience deny bulletproof vests to citizens at risk of criminal attack in our community, such as pizza delivery guys, cabbies driving at night and convenience store clerks in sketchy neighbourhoods?

That would be particularly ironic, given that the guy who first used the miracle fabric Kevlar to manufacture soft body armour was a pizza delivery guy who’d been shot on the job.

Regardless, I would expect that the legislation will proceed unimpeded in Alberta as it did in British Columbia.

It is interesting that last  year US Customs proposed a ban on any folder knives that could be opened one handed. In this case, the action by Customs was stopped in its tracks by public reaction. That was because Custom’s rule change would have made most of the current folding knives in the country illegal and that would have affected a massive number of people.

Which reinforces the rule that strength in numbers is always an effective strategy when it comes to dealing with politicians and the bureaucracy.


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.