Leroy Smickle was in the wrong place at the right time when he was arrested on March 9 2009 during a police raid on his cousin’s apartment. Smickle posed with a loaded handgun in front of a camera in an effort to “look cool” for his Facebook page. He was clad in boxer shorts, tank top and sun-glasses, making it very difficult to ascend the ladder of cool under these conditions, so Smickle added a gat to his photo-shoot . . .
Bad bad Leroy Smickle was a first time offender, but a 2008 amendment to Canada’s gun laws meant that he was convicted of a new law that required a three year minimum sentence for his ill-advised photo shoot.
Smickle’s cousin was the subject of an illegal gun investigation and Smickle was a roommate at the time of the offense. The apartment door was kicked in by the police and Smickle was caught with a handgun in his left hand, a point that was a factor in his reduced sentence because Smickle is a right-handed person.
Leroy Smickle has become a poster boy for tougher firearm sentences in Canada after an Ontario appeal court reduced his mandatory minimum sentence of three years to a one year conditional house arrest sentence. A conditional sentence means that Smickle will likely have his criminal record erased after he completes his sentence.
The decision by Ontario Court of Appeal judge Anne Molloy to reduce Smickle’s sentence has caused a big uproar in Canada. The Canadian Conservative government has tabled some tough new anti-crime measures aimed at youth crime, organized crime and violent crime that will include tougher jail time for offenders in all three groups.
The lower court decision to reduce Smickle’s sentence will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada by the government. The proponents of the stiff sentence will applaud the appeal of the appeal court judge while other Canadians will condemn the move as an example of a harsh punishment that didn’t fit the crime.
The entire case will become a lightning rod for Canadians on both sides of the equation, but the Canadians that support the reduced penalty may not exactly line up with pro- 2A Americans on this one- beyond both groups’ belief in constitutional rights and protection. The Canadians that support the reduced Smickle sentence will look at the sentence as cruel and unusual punishment, but they would likely not support any relaxation of current gun laws in Canada. They would simply want lighter sentences for crimes of any nature, and that is the fundamental difference between many Canadian supporters of the reduced Smickle sentence and 2A guys in the States.
Most 2A supporters would have no trouble with tougher sentences for major crimes, but the same is not true in Canada. Personally I have no trouble with the tough new crime and punishment bill in Canada, but I also have little sympathy for Smickle. He was likely aware that his cousin was a gun-runner, so it is also likely that his Facebook weapon fell under that same illegal category. He probably noticed a few extra handguns around the place, if nothing else, so he also knew the game was pretty serious for his cousin. Smickle’s only real defense in this case was massive stupidity, a condition probably recognized by Justice Molloy, when she reduced his sentence. It should be an interesting case if (or more likely when) it hits the Supreme Court of Canada.