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.

13 Responses to Canadian Judge Refuses to Smack Smickle On Gun Charge

  1. It’s good to see some degree of sanity from a judge; any real crime requires an act of evil to be committed. Posing for a photograph does not qualify.

    • As they refer to the pistol in question as an “illegal gun”, I’m willing to bet he didn’t procure it via, shall we say, legitimate sources.

      Still, I’d love to know how they can conclude said pistol was loaded from a photograph. Shoulder thing that goes up?

  2. After watching the news report, I’m still not sure what Smickle did wrong. Is mere possession in an apartment (with as the judge said, “no criminal intent” and with no prior criminal record) illegal in Canada? I sure won’t be visiting our Northern neighbor anytime soon.

    • Is mere possession in an apartment (with as the judge said, “no criminal intent” and with no prior criminal record) illegal in Canada?

      Yes. It’s also illegal in New York City and will get the offender a 3 1/2 year ticket to Dannemora.

      Think that’s crazy? Then how about this. If you were to train with a handgun at a licensed gun range under the supervision of an NRA and New York certified handgun safety instructor and did not hold an NYC handgun license, that would also be a crime. Even if the handgun was unloaded.

      Meanwhile, in supposedly gun-phobic Massachusetts, an LTC holder can train a fourteen year old to shoot a handgun using live rounds. Go figure.

      Canadian laws may be nuts, but NYC laws are vicious.

  3. I’ll fill in our southern brethren on Canadian gun laws –

    To possess or aquire any firearm you need a PAL (Possession and Aquisition License). There are three categories of PAL – non-restricted (long gun), restricted (normal handguns and short barrel carbines), and prohibited (automatic weapons, compact handguns, and small calibre saturday night specials in .25 or .32). You need a PAL to purchase ammo as well.

    To get a restricted or non-restricted license you take a safety course and apply with a nominal fee. As long as you don’t have a criminal record, psych history, and you can provide two references you get your PAL. Prohib is grandfathered or only available to dealers.

    When you get a restricted license, a restricted firearm cannot leave your place of residence without a transport permit, either temporary (moving) or permanent (going to and from the range). It must be kept locked in a safe, unloaded, with a trigger lock at all times, you CANNOT have a restricted firearm accessible for “home defense”. Merely having it out in the open, loaded is a crime. A Montreal area businessman was recently charged because he kept a loaded pistol next to his bed, with all the correct licenses and registration for it. Forget carry of any sort, that is only available to law enforcement, certain private security, and certain high-risk individuals (supposedly a jeweller can carry for personal protection but I’ve never met anyone who did – I work in the jewellery industry). You may find this very lefty but that is the way our system works, and the attitudes and traditions around guns (and crime) are very different here north of the border. We are lucky we can own handguns at all, as the popular conception around them is that they are exclusively used for crime.

    All weapons need to be registered with the RCMP (you may have heard we are scrapping the long-gun registry. Right now it is still in place, but it will soon be eliminated – but restricted/prohib will continue to be registered).

    So – by having an illegal (unregistered) gun, and presumably nothing in the way of a PAL, and not following the storage rules (not that it matters seeing how the gun is illegally owned), you have your reasons why that is why this dipshot is seeing the inside of a court. I would guess there is some aid-and-abetting involved too, if it is his roomate who was doing the trafficking. Sympathy, I have not. Any bad press for guns in Canada sets us responsibe owners back 10 years at a time.

    Guns + idiots + internet = pain in the ass for responsible gun owners.

    The system is flawed though; I was present at the Dawson College shooting. I lived next to the school. The shooter had a valid restricted PAL and both his guns were legally registered. The system didn’t stop him as he had no crimimal record or psychological profile prior to his rampage. Could we have stopped him with stricter laws? No. But someone should have taken notice beforehand, as there was lots of online evidence he was a nutjob with a gun – so… cases like this Smickle character might be the future of prevention. If it keeps guns away from moronic punks I have no issue with it.

  4. How do U.S. citizens take hunting trips to Canada? Sounds as doing so would be very difficult, and legally dangerous were one to make a mistake.

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