Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A self defence test - call the police? Think again.

You are roused in the early morning by men shouting death threats outside. They hurl firebombs onto your home injuring a pet dog and setting part of your property ablaze.
You happen to be a trained firearms instructor, so you retrieve a properly registered .38-calibre handgun from storage, load it, and fire three warning shots causing the men to flee without injury to anyone.

You hurry to douse the flames, see to your dog, then get another loaded handgun to put by your bedside, in case the men return. You call the police.
Police arrive, survey the scene, take your testimony, then they charge and arrest you.

What did you do wrong?

a) pointed and fired a gun as a warning.
b) defended your life and property.
c) were in possession of an improperly stored and loaded weapon.
d) did all of the above.
e) called the police.

The answer depends on who you are. If you are the police in this situation, the answer is "d". From my point of view the answer is "e". Unfortunately this story is true. It happened in Port Colborne Ontario in August of 2010, and the trial of the man that was attacked began on January 30, 2012. Ian Thomson, the accused "defender," may be wishing he didn't call the police.

One would think that the right of self defence is fundamental in a free society, I think it is, so does this column in the National Post. This is not the first time that the victim of a crime has been charged by police. This story in Toronto's China Town less than two years ago, did not involve guns but the police felt somehow that the victim needed to be charged. It boggles the mind, as does the story in Port Colborne.

Just a few days ago a fellow blogger wrote this regarding respect for the law. It cut right to the point. When was the last time you had an encounter with "the law," where you felt justice was done? When was the last time that you thought the police were serving and protecting you? When?

I can't recall being helped by the law in the form of the years, maybe never. Encounters with police have always been adversarial, a ticket, a warning. I just know that they watch that I and others obey the rules, like no speeding on empty roads where they hide themselves to entrap the unwary. I always get nervous when a police car pulls up behind me while I'm driving. Shouldn't I feel safer, protected somehow, because I'm paying part of their salary (whether I want to or not)? I think so. It seems the police are best at harassing and entrapping. I won't even talk about the G20 debacle in Toronto, or the tasering incident in Vancouver.

In my neighbourhood the local bank has been robbed several times this year. It's a quiet suburban neighbourhood, thats why the crooks like it - easy to hide and get away. Rarely do I see police in the neighbourhood, except of course on the main road, hiding, with a radar trap. That local bank branch has hired a security company to allay the fears of its customers, the guard wanders around all day. Where are the police?

Police are a microcosm of government, often unrestrained in power and too often irresponsible in its use. Just like government, the people prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt, because they mean well.

As for Mr. Thomson's trial, after two days it has been adjourned until early May. It seems the lawyers need to figure out what is entailed in the proper storage of ammunition. Lawyers!

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