Toronto, Ontario. Wednesday, October 30th, 2019. Sherway Gardens shopping mall. 7:30pm.
An unidentified RCMP member places his or her black satchel containing their RCMP-issue handgun and 3 spare magazines of ammunition on a chair somewhere inside the shopping mall.
He or she then leaves it on that chair, unattended, for over 2 hours.
At 9:45 they returned to discover someone stole the satchel.
Toronto Police Services is investigating the theft. They have little chance of finding the thief or the stolen handgun unless there was video surveillance of the chair in question during that 2-hour window.
Obvious questions arise.
- Will the RCMP member be charged with a criminal offence?
- Will the RCMP member face an internal disciplinary hearing?
- Will we ever learn the identity of this as-yet unnamed RCMP member?
My answers, based on decades of writing about similar cases, are No, Maybe and No.
Now, if a mere citizen left a loaded handgun with 3 spare magazines of ammunition lying on a chair in a shopping mall, and they held a valid Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) the answer to questions 1 and 3 would be “Yes. Without question.”
This double-standard, applied liberally to RCMP and other police forces with stunning regularity, are what infuriate federally-licensed, RCMP-vetted firearm owners.
There is one law for us and another for them.
- Here’s how this would go down if you or I behaved this irresponsibly with our firearms.
- We would be arrested immediately.
- We would be charged with multiple criminal offences.
- Our name would be released to the public in a perfectly-crafted press release.
- We would spend the next 1-3 years defending ourselves in court and, if by some miracle we were acquitted, spend the rest of our lives paying off the legal bill. Most likely we would be Guests of the State for the next 5 years or so.
But not for this RCMP member. Odds are we will never even learn their name.
As with American Express, RCMP membership has its privileges.