On July 30th, Nanaimo RCMP responded in force to a ‘man with a gun’ call when they discovered the young man’s gun wasn’t real, but a CO2 replica Remington 1875 revolver.
While ownership of this toy gun is 100% legal, behaving stupidly with them in public can often lead to criminal charges.
That won’t be the case this time, says Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien, but he says it’s detachment policy to destroy all seized replica firearms.
The young man was thrilled with his new purchase and simply couldn’t wait to load a CO2 cartridge into the handle of the gun. His actions prompted someone nearby to call 911 and report “they could see a man loading bullets into a large handgun”.
While being on the receiving end of that force may be deeply unpleasant and may seem like an unjustified over-reaction be police, it’s not.
The RCMP’s response to this call was entirely predictable and entirely understandable.
The only information they have is a 911 call about a man loading a gun in the parking lot of a shopping mall.
They would be derelict in their duties if they did not respond en masse to prevent or stop a mass shooting.
Even before the terrible and tragic events of the past year, Nova Scotia’s mass murder being at the forefront, police generally meet such a perceived threat with a show of force.
Commenting on the Comox Valley Record’s version of this story, Rich Bridgeman said:
“Apparently Nanaimo has a real problem with people crying wolf. Three cases where the public called the police over airsoft, and pellet guns? Perhaps the police should start charging the public for wrongful accusations.”
We firearm owners tend to over-simplify things, as Rich does above.
It’s not a matter of ‘crying wolf’ but one of not knowing what’s going on beyond “that’s a gun!” and calling the police.
We forget that the majority of Canadians have absolutely no experience with firearms beyond what they see on television and movies and are highly, if irrationally, terrified of them.
I would like to think anyone seeing a young man playing with what appears to be a real gun in a parking lot of a mall would take similar steps, if only because of how dire the consequences are if they’re wrong.
If the gun is real and the guy holding it is another moron with a grudge against the world, we’re in the midst of another Nova Scotia nightmare when we could have stopped it before it began.
Thanks, but no thanks.
I choose erring on the side of caution, as did the individual who called 911 as well as the RCMP members who responded to the call, over that possibility.
The RCMP noted they “will always respond to gun calls as if they are real, and they will consider the gun to be authentic until such time it has been proven to be a replica or toy,” according to the Nanaimo News Bulletin.
As they should.
Others took exception to this young man’s lawfully owned property being seized and destroyed.
For example, Dean Larsen wrote:
“So if no laws were broken and it turns out it was not a real firearm why was his property not returned to him. Is it police policy to seize and destroy citizens lawful property?”
Yes, in cases like this, it is.
No, I don’t agree with the policy.
Blair Parker’s opposition was even more strident.
“Give it back to him FFS….. HE DID NOTHING WRONG….”
While I disagree with Nanaimo RCMP’s policy in this case, this young man’s dumb actions caused police to waste an inordinate amount of resources to deal with him and his CO2 replica.
If seizing and destroying this replica teaches this young man to be more careful with his toy guns in future, it’s a cheap, albeit embarrassing, object lesson to him.
It’s an even more important object lesson to others.
To those who argue ‘he did nothing wrong’ I ask, “How are police supposed to know that until they investigate?”
Nanaimo News Bulletin commenter Rick Hancock asked,
“Next time this happens and you are criticizing the results why don’t you go up and ask the guy with the gun if it is real because if it is then you will have to call the police?”
I’m an experienced firearms owner, shooting sports competitor and firearms safety instructor, both on movie sets and off, and there is no way I would walk up to a stranger to check and see if the thing they’re flashing in public is a real gun.
If I’m right and it is fake, no harm no foul but, if I’m wrong, I just placed myself directly in the line of fire.
That’s light years beyond moronic.
If, from a relatively safe distance, I don’t know if that gun is real, I’ll happily dial 911 and let the professionals sort it out.
I’ll leave the final words to Nanaimo News Bulletin commenter Jenny Whats, whose comments likely reflect the majority of the non-firearm-owning public:
Think about that seriously? No one in right mind is going over to ask if that gun is real.
Again if you have no idea how to conduct yourself appropriately for the public, then your going to have police called.
We live in a very unpredictable world and protocol is important even with toy guns. Why would you not want to teach how to store and handle even a toy gun?
It’s good training to follow safety procedures and with all drive by and random attacks; us normal people are going to phone police to handle it just in case that gun is real. It is what the RCMP suggest to do, rather than putting yourself at possible risk.