The inconvenient truth for Tony Kakfwi is that being stupid in public has consequences. Those consequences include a 4-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for one of the charges he faces.
Understandably, Tony Kakfwi doesn’t want to go to prison for four years. The cold hard reality, however, is he should’ve thought about that before he fired his rifle near a crowd of people at a public meeting in Fort Good Hope, NWT, on the evening of November 25, 2016.
After firing his rifle outside the public meeting at the band office, he ran into a nearby community elders complex, barricaded himself inside one of the apartments. There he held off police for a few hours, screaming and threatening to kill himself before he finally surrendered to the RCMP.
Clearly, Tony Kakfwi was upset that evening. Nobody knows why he was upset and, for the purpose of these criminal charges, it doesn’t really matter. He acted stupidly and, as a result, Tony Kakfwi faces numerous criminal code charges.
The criminal code of Canada is crystal clear. The law against discharging a weapon at a public meeting is on the books since at least 1965, the oldest copy of the criminal code in my possession. I have no doubt it’s been on the books for far longer than that.
The rationale is simple. If you bring a weapon to a public meeting you probably intend to use it. When you discharge that firearm at a public meeting you endanger the lives of everyone around you. It is this callous disregard for human life that forced lawmakers to add 4-year mandatory minimum sentence for this crime. It acts as a deterrent so people won’t act stupid in public with guns.
While he faces numerous criminal code charges it is that charge, discharging a firearm with intent, that causes Tony Kakfwi so much angst. It carries a 4-year mandatory minimum sentence.
It is important to note that Tony has a lengthy criminal record for violent crimes. According to the CBC, “Kakfwi has been convicted of assault at least three times and of uttering threats.”
Until 2008, the mandatory minimum sentence for this crime was one year. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper raised that mandatory minimum to four years.
While mandatory minimum sentences for other firearm-related crimes have been struck down, as in the case of possession of prohibited weapons, discharging a firearm in public is, I believe, one case where the mandatory minimum sentence should remain.
Let Tony Kakfwi’s lengthy incarceration be a lesson to anyone else wanting to behave this stupidly in public.
Here’s the full list of all the charges Tony Kakfwi faces:
- 85 (1) Every person commits an offence who uses a firearm, whether or not the person causes or means to cause bodily harm to any person as a result of using the firearm,
- (a) while committing an indictable offence, other than an offence under section 220 (criminal negligence causing death), 236 (manslaughter), 239 (attempted murder), 244 (discharging firearm with intent), 244.2 (discharging firearm — recklessness), 272 (sexual assault with a weapon) or 273 (aggravated sexual assault), subsection 279(1) (kidnapping) or section 279.1 (hostage taking), 344 (robbery) or 346 (extortion);
- (b) while attempting to commit an indictable offence; or
- (c) during flight after committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence.
- 88 (1) Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.
- 89 (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition while the person is attending or is on the way to attend a public meeting.
- 86 (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.
- 244 (1) Every person commits an offence who discharges a firearm at a person with intent to wound, maim or disfigure, to endanger the life of or to prevent the arrest or detention of any person — whether or not that person is the one at whom the firearm is discharged.
- 264.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat
- (a) to cause death or bodily harm to any person;
- (b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property; or
- (c) to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.