It’s just a provincial court but it’s a start. The current criminal code of Canada holds that because an offence involves firearms it is proper to have a mandatory minimum sentence despite a constitutional requirement that the punishment must fit the crime.
“A B.C. provincial court judge has ruled that the mandatory minimum three-year sentence for possessing a loaded prohibited firearm has breached an offenderâ€™s constitutional rights.
The idea that a crime involving a firearm is particularly heinous and demands a harsher sentence is wrong many ways. A victim is just as dead shot as stabbed. A victim is just as robbed whether the perpetrator is armed with a firearm as with a knife. In this case, a judge would not have been able to give a lighter sentence no matter the character of the offender nor his frame of mind nor his situation. The judge ruled that he would have given a lighter sentence if not for the provision of the law requiring a mandatory minimum sentence so the provision was for an excessive punishment.
I doubt this will survive appeal to higher courts as they are stacked with judges who went along with taking possession of a firearm out of provincial jurisdiction, where it belongs under the constitution, and accepted that firearms law was “new” being about “safety” (not true at all) and so was a federal matter. Safety is a concept that was around long before Canada. Just ask the folks who took the land from the aboriginal people and defended chickens from coyotes and wolves. Safety was never an issue with the federal government until an MP was assassinated with one. Throwing out the constitution then was no more rational than now. It’s far easier to pass another law than to change the constitution…
Still, there is hope now that the registry is gone that judges may well see the flaws in the other parts of the law. Mandatory minimums have routinely been plea-bargained away. Apparently that could not be done as there was no other charge involved. This is an opportunity to take another chip off the federal Firearms Act, which has little to do with safety except licensing and storage.
Other concepts I would like to see removed from the Firearms Act?
- That ordinary folks don’t have a right to own a firearm. A firearm is just a tool folks and can be used for good or evil just like a hammer or a knife. It is a crime to threaten or harm. There’s no need for extra offences in law just because a firearm is used. The complexity of the lives of ordinary folks using firearms is a waste of resources and breaks the fundamental rule of government, “Do no harm”. Folks who cannot buy a firearm because all the small businesses who used to sell firearms are gone, driven out by the paperwork are harmed. So are the small businesses that used to sell firearms and ammunition. Folks who live in remote places and receive little or no service from police or Natural Resources officers are harmed by the law as it now stands. One could reasonably ban criminals from owning firearms but banning ordinary good folks is wrong.
- The storage provisions are inappropriate for tools people use. Education is the way to promote safety, not the criminal code. In the bush, a firearm may be in use 24×7 because that’s when the big bad predators arrive. There are places where police may take days to respond to a 911 call. If storage must be regulated it should be locally enforced and ordinary folks living in the reality of Canada should not be threatened by years in prison for protecting their lives. If a city with ~3 minute responses by police want a different standard, let them pass a by-law. Storage in a strong locked box makes no sense to people using firearms.
- Giving up “home is castle” provisions of the constitution because one owns a firearm is wrong. The reason such provisions are in the constitution is because governments have abused such provisions in the past. We ignore history and are bound to repeat it if we throw out search warrants because city-dwelling legislators don’t like firearms.