On August 21, 2020, Newfoundland Provincial Court Judge Wayne Gorman issued a 4-year firearms prohibition order against a man identified only as Mr. AP (R. v A.P, 2020 58652) even though the Crown only sought a 2-year prohibition.
“I have concluded that this is an appropriate case for the issuing of a section 111 Criminal Code prohibition. I have reached this conclusion because the totality of the circumstances persuades me that it would not be desirable for the safety and protection of Ms. P, that Mr. P have possession of a firearm.”
Under normal circumstances, a relationship or marriage breakdown should not be grounds for a firearms prohibition order, as at least one firearm owner I know would attest.
The fact a relationship ended does not mean one partner wants to do violence to the other in every instance. To insist otherwise is nonsense not supported by the facts.
There are many high-profile and heartbreaking cases where one partner has gone on to murder the other after the relationship broke down.
Jennifer Quesnel’s murder by her estranged husband on June 1st on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, and Darian Henderson-Bellman’s murder by her ex-partner in Brampton, Ontario, are just two recent examples.
Cases like these drive one segment of the firearms control debate in Canada but miss one critically important point. In both the Quesnel and Henderson-Bellman murders, their killers were already prohibited from owning firearms.
That’s not the case here.
Legally Possessed Firearms
In the case of Mr. AP and Ms. KP in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, that’s not the case. Mr. AP legally owed his firearms and possessed a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence.
But, and I’m sure I’ll receive hate mail for this, a valid PAL does not mean Mr. AP behaved rationally after his relationship ended.
It was Mr. AP ’s “unpredictable behaviour”, as testified to by Constable Jillian Pollett of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, that set this firearms prohibition ball in motion in the first place.
Section 111 of the Criminal Code (lengthy weapon descriptions deleted for brevity) states :
111 (1) A peace officer, firearms officer or chief firearms officer may apply to a provincial court judge for an order prohibiting a person from possessing any firearm, […] where the peace officer […] believes on reasonable grounds that it is not desirable in the interests of the safety of the person against whom the order is sought or of any other person that the person against whom the order is sought should possess any such thing.
On July 1st, Mr. AP got drunk, came to Ms. KP’s parents’ home where she and her son lived, and entered the locked house using a pin code for the locked door.
He threw various items around the house and threatened to break more. He eventually left (the judgment does not explain how his departure came about), but not before terrifying Ms. KP and, presumably, her son as well.
On July 2nd, Ms. KP reported the incident to police, and filed for an emergency protection order that same day. That order was granted, and included an interim firearms prohibition order against Mr. AP.
In this case, Mr. A.P.’s actions on July 1st led directly to his firearms prohibition. There is nobody to blame but himself.
 On July 2, 2020, this Court issued an emergency protection order, pursuant to Section 5 of the Family Violence Protection Act, SNL 2005. The order prohibited Mr. AP from having contact or communication with his former partner (Ms. KP).
The order also contained a condition that prohibited Mr. P from “possessing any ammunition or firearms” and that required him to “immediately deliver to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, any firearm permits or certificates in his name and any firearms or ammunition which he owns, which are in his possession, or which he has access to”.
Even though the Crown only sought a 2-year firearms prohibition, Judge Wayne Gorman felt a 4-year firearms prohibition order more appropriate, and issued that order on August 21, 2020.
 Based upon the totality of the evidence presented, I am satisfied that this is an appropriate case for a section 111 prohibition to be issued. The evidence establishes that after Mr. P and Ms. P separated, Mr. P acted in a violent manner toward Ms. P and entered a residence she was residing in without her consent or permission.
 The context in which the application was made is important. The circumstances upon which the application is made occurred after an intimate partner separation. The potential for violence occurring and escalating in such a circumstance is well known, as are the often fatal consequences for the female partner.
 I am satisfied that it is not desirable for Mr. P to possess a firearm. Thus, a section 111 prohibition is hereby issued.
The Length of the Prohibition:
 The Crown sought to have a prohibition put in place for a period of two years. Based upon the circumstances involved, including the nature of the former relationship between Ms. P and Mr. P, I conclude that a longer prohibition is required. Based upon the totality of the circumstances, I conclude that the prohibition should be in place for a period of four years.
 Section 111(7) of the Criminal Code indicates that “[s]ections 113 to 117 apply in respect of every order made under subsection (5)”. Section 115(1) indicates that “[u]nless a prohibition order against a person specifies otherwise, everything the possession of which is prohibited by the order is forfeited to Her Majesty if, on the commencement of the order, the thing is in the person’s possession or has been seized and detained by, or surrendered to, a peace officer”.
 In this case, Mr. P surrendered three firearms to the police as required by the emergency protection order. Based upon the circumstances, including the potential for future violence, a compelling argument for forfeiture could be made. However, the Crown specifically indicated that it was not seeking forfeiture of these firearms. As a result, a forfeiture order will not be issued.
 For the reasons provided, the Crown’s application for a section 111 Criminal Code prohibition to be issued is granted. The prohibition shall be in place for a period of four years and shall include all of the items listed in section 111(1) of the Criminal Code. The three firearms listed in the application are not forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen.
What do you think?
Was Judge Gorman correct in issuing the firearms prohibition order, or should Mr. AP be allowed to keep his guns despite of his behaviour towards his estranged spouse?
Let me know in the comments section below.