I write from beautiful downtown Canada, with important information for Canadian readers, and a cautionary tale for US ones. For reasons that will become plain, I ask TTAG not to attach my name. Put your coffee down . . .
First, a few data points: Handguns in Canada have had to be registered with the federal government since, oh, 1934. That is to say, every legally-owned handgun in Canada has a registry paper with it, with the owner’s name and address, and the firearm description and serial number. Owning a handgun in Canada requires a two-day storage and safety course, $340 in various fees, a crime-free police history, the written permission of your wife, and a wait of two or three months.
The licence has to be renewed every five years, and if you have a licence, you have to report to the police if you intend to change your address. Once you have a handgun, it has to be disabled/locked at home, and may only be loaded for use at an “approved” range. Stop rolling your eyes. I am not yet at the good part.
With these…features…you might suppose that Canadians who legally own handguns are the most co-operative, law-and-order-supporting, crime-free cohort of Canadian society. You would be right. The historic participation of licensed handgun owners in violence or crime in Canada is statistically zero.
A large (for Canada) urban centre has had a recent brisk uptick in firearms crime; drive-by shootings, targeted shootings, the usual stuff that attaches to vibrantly-diverse young men marketing illegal drugs. The police have a pretty good idea who most of these guys are. At least, almost every incident with an identifiable shooter or victim includes the phrase, “…known to police…”. But the Mayor is pressed by the press to Do Something To Get Guns Off The Street.
I am an instructor for the course that people need for their firearms licence. I have just as recently become acquainted with what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are doing locally to Get Guns Off The Street.
A reasonable citizen would suppose, and a responsible senior police officer would direct Plan A; that policing attention be focussed on that small cohort of the public that they know are doing in the crimes. You know; investigate, charge, and prosecute the criminals? Gotta acknowledge though, that those are criminals, and criminals by definition resist being easily tracked down.
Hmm. How easier to go about this? How about a Plan B? Go to the listed addresses of licensed, crime-free owners of registered handguns and confiscate their property? That way police get lots of guns to take pictures to show the Mayor, and they don’t have to apply any, you know, effort, or risk.
This is not apocryphal: In the last several weeks I have had a dozen-odd licence-renewal students with similar stories; a team of police coming to the door, demanding the surrender of registered handguns. Some highlights:
-in a couple of cases, a black-clad, submachinegun-bearing ERT (“Emergency Response Team” the Canadian equivalent of “SWAT”) coming to a suburban, middle-class address in the middle of the day, demanding surrender and entry.
-most guys actually inviting the officers inside, (Canadians in general, and Canadian shooters in particular, are a polite sort, and generally pro-police. So far).
-police excuse is that, “Your firearms licence has expired”, or
-your handgun registration wasn’t renewed (it does not have to be), or,
-when owners requested a receipt, the officers reply with, “We don’t have a pen”.
-when owners ask to see a warrant, they are threatened with immediate arrest and cuffs.
-when the handguns are in police hands, they press the owner to consent to their destruction.
-because the nominal excuse is a licence renewal lapse, a high proportion of these people are some combination of retired (Yes, older people have things slip their memory), or working people who are so busy at work to pay for family and mortgage that yet another paperwork requirement slips through the calendar cracks.
Points to remember, these are ALL licensed, criminal-record-checked, crime-free, wife-approved, registered, peaceful and productive citizens. THIS is who the RCMP is going after.
As a firearms owner, I am disturbed to see how comfortably and easily police can–apparently without qualm or scruple–transition from peace officer/serve-&-protect to paramilitary thugs who invade homes, intimidate peaceful citizens, disdain warrants, and are just fine with seizing registered property, as long as they are Just Following Orders.
As a taxpaying citizen, Whisky Tango Foxtrot!?. Is there a violent/firearms crime problem? Yes. And every dollar and every hour of policing effort put into pestering lawful and peaceful citizens is that dollar and hour taken away from convicting actual, you know, criminals.
Are any RCMP reading this? We’d like to read your take on this, but gotta say, based on my recent experiences, I feel threatened BY you, and embarrassed FOR you. I make it a point now to pass on reports of your behaviour to my students.
My informed-layman’s suggestion for Canadian readers (and any advice from a Canadian lawyer is very welcome here):
-If police come to your door in this capacity, do NOT invite them in.
-Do NOT affirm any information beyond your identity and address.
-Record the encounter, with the voice recorder option on all cellphones now, or by taking notes during and immediately after the encounter. Note nametags.
-If you surrender property, do NOT sign a paper they wave in front of you, consenting to its destruction.
-DO insist on a detailed receipt for any property you (temporarily) hand over.
To my American readers: See? This is what happens when you let government register arms. To you, I offer the same suggestions I offer my students (during coffee breaks only, of course) 1. Register nothing. It does not end well. 2. Stock up on ammunition. 3. Tell three friends. In the spirit of genuine independence, RSD…Resist, Subvert, Defy.
Best Regards, Anon.
Sent from my iPad