A friend, who has followed my writing for 30 years, recently suggested that I package my articles into a one-volume tome and title it “I Told You So”.
While mulling over that vain idea to see if it had merit, I did come across a couple of pertinent pieces “Zero Tolerance for Crimes Against Good People” and another writer’s supporting piece “We Must Be Able to Defend Our Homes”.
I thought both were worthy of recycling as companions to my October 1 post “Everyone’s Home is His Castle and Fortress” and to Christopher di Armani’s September 28th post “Ontario Crown Counsel and OPP Finally Find Some Common Sense”.
“This is rich! The state is more worried about
protecting the trespasser from the property owner, than
legally allowing the property owner to defend himself against
intruders; if the trespasser and burglar happen to be a youth,
the courts are directed by a lenient revised Young Offenders
Act not to bother prosecuting.”
Jane Gaffin, 2009
Source: Justice Served Up Yukonslavia Style: The Shameful Conspiracy Behind the Allen Carlos Trilogy, page 649
A group of angry Whitehorse residents trooped out of Courtroom 5 and gathered in the hallway on the morning of Wednesday, September 6 (2000). The victims and their friends were totally disgusted with the judiciary system--for more than one reason.
Lawyers and Crown prosecutors mumble inaudibly and shuffle papers while making presentations to the bench with their backs to the gallery. Court is a public forum. The judiciary would be well-advised to remember that court proceedings are supposed to be conducted in sufficient volume to be heard by everybody in the room.
These incensed citizens were present to see the man who was charged with burglarizing and trashing five nice Porter Creek homes over the long weekend of August 21. Some interiors had even been smeared with a mess of mustard and catsup.
Outside the courtroom, the only consolation the system could offer were the blank victim’s impact statements to be filled out in between the monumental tasks and expenses associated with cleaning up and repairing the devastation.
And guess who is left with the chore of cleaning up after the police have finished dusting with a black substance to collect fingerprints and footprints?
The identity of 22-year-old Joel Anthony Pen doesn’t have to be cloaked from the public like that of his 16-year-old accused accomplice who is learning the crime trade to wear like a badge of honour.
Pen has been charged with five counts of break and entries, two-gun-related charges for possession of a .357-calibre handgun, in addition to earlier charges of driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle.
After obtaining the documents from the court registry, I had only walked two blocks before hearing another string of horror stories. A dozen Wolf Creek campsites and vehicles were vandalized and burglarized while families enjoyed an outdoors experience with youngsters over the Victoria Day weekend in May (2000). The fun outing turned into the wrong kind of fishing trip. Identification papers, medicine and cash-stripped wallets and handbags had to be retrieved from the depths of outhouse holes.
One of the three accused is the same 16-year-old female charged in relation to the Discovery Day weekend trashings of the Porter Creek homes in August.
Open season has been declared on Whitehorse residents, who are very angry, of course. People have vowed they will protect person and property in whatever way they deem necessary. The police can’t protect people from crime nor prevent crime from happening. They normally arrive on the scene after the crime has been committed.
When the delinquents are apprehended and come before the courts, the judiciary tells each one not to do those things again. See ya. Next?
In my youth, stealing a 10-cent candy bar from the local grocery was enough to get you three years in reform school which was easy compared to the wrath brought down by most parents. Now society has painted itself into a corner with a revolving-door system that is clogged with repeat offenders who think crime is cute.
The criminals know the judiciary is a farce. Congregating outside the courtroom door awaiting their respective turns, they laugh at the victims and the system. They laugh at the judges and the legal-aid lawyers, who, at taxpayers’ expense, find loopholes to set these culprits free to indulge in more break-ins, robberies and property damage.
It will lead down a path to violent crimes unless they can be taught right from wrong, respect for others, and accountability for their own actions. Local residents will undoubtedly be providing some hard lessons about “Do unto others only what you would wants others to do unto you.”
Criminals have a right to laugh, though. Society let politicians pass junk legislation so criminals can possess the guns and rule the country. While criminals receive all the concessions, responsible people are trying to be good, law-abiding citizens. Yet they have to grapple carefully with what to do when confronted with threatening situations for fear of ending up with criminal charges against their good names.
The system emboldens the criminals, who are often drugged and armed with knives and handguns--stolen, of course. They break into homes when owners are away or walk in while folks are asleep in their beds.
Sociologists and statisticians discovered a good method of self-protection is to let the would-be intruders know force will be met with force. A lot of those culprits in the courtrooms are cowards. If they think they’re going to meet resistance, they won’t endanger themselves.
For example, four foul-mouthed hombres once tried to break down the front door of my apartment complex at 3 a.m. My first experience with 911 was not comforting. The dispatcher said the police were very busy, and she didn’t think they could come. Then she asked me to stay on the line, presumably to answer another call. There I was, a receiver pressed to my ear, listening to dead air and the din of an attempted break-in after being told the police can’t help me.
Previous experience and stories related by neighbours proved that if those hombres managed to break in, they would urinate and defecate in the hallways, burn holes with cigarettes in carpets, trip the fire alarm system, kick in doors, and create general mayhem just for the hell of it.
They have been run through the system so many times that threatening to call the police is no longer a deterrent, anyway, because they know the police aren’t going to show up. I know it, too, because the dispatcher just told me.
Their silhouettes were outlined by the foyer light filtering through the glass they were about to smash. While there is safety in numbers with apartment-house living, let’s suppose I was the only one at home that particular night These deadbeats were a perfect target. Maybe my only option was to fill their breeches with a little buckshot or fire a warning shot into the air from my balcony.
Consideration for the safety of innocent people is a given. But I’d have to think about where to stand to legally discharge a firearm. My mind needed to leap ahead six months when a judge might have to rule my actions as “reasonable” or “excessive” force.
Did I have the legal right to defend my landlord’s property? Or, legally, did I have to wait until the would-be intruders broke into my personal digs?
In this specific incident, a fearless and admirable tenant, who loathes these disturbances and the disturbers, had heard the commotion first and dialed 911. Then he ran out a side door and circled around to the front of the building to make a surprise attack. He took on the whole gang single-handedly. Within two minutes, eight police officers arrived on-site in four cruisers.
The initial no-nonsense resistance was definitely a deterrent. These “regulars”, who may still be running in four directions of the wind, never returned, as far as I know.
However, the average person is not trained and may not be physically capable of taking on an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. A gun is the most effective crime-stopper in the hands of responsible firearms owners. Yet it’s the criminals who are packing stolen weapons taken from proper storage safes, which are hauled out of victims’ houses.
And guess who can get charged if a criminal steals a gun from your house? The victim!
The astronomical escalation in burglaries and vandalism in this community, plus the pronounced threat to personal safety, have spurred responsible firearms owners to keep loaded firearms at the ready.
Some people claim they are hearing mixed messages about their legal rights to take a gun out of storage and put the firearms into use. (Lawyers specializing in gun law will say ‘yes, you can’; police, Crown attorneys and Crown prosecutors will say ‘no, you can’t’.)
Law-abiding citizens have to worry about being branded as criminals while protecting self, family and property against a bunch of thugs who breeze through crimes and the courts without concern for law and punishment.
Keeping a loaded firearm at the ready is legally possible. But it carries a lot of responsibility as to what you can and can’t do and when you can and can’t do it.
To learn the fine points of the law, responsible gun owners are urged to study the act and regulations; when further help is needed these days, I suggest contacting Christopher di Armani who has many contacts of his own and can provide direction. It is of no earthly value to contact the police who don’t know gun laws; to be on the safe side, they simply use their individual discretion to charge the gun owners. On many occasions when criminal charges shouldn’t be filed, they are simply because guns have been demonized.
Case and precedent law indicates you should always dial 911 to cover your backside if any legal repercussions arise from an unsavoury event. The recorded call is proof that you solicited help, even if the police can’t/won’t respond in time.
Of primary importance, the whole community must unite to send a strong message to the judiciary and the criminals at large that responsible citizens will tackle threatening situations with force.
Posting a notice that “This Property Guarded by a Loaded Shotgun; Come On In” will produce some awe-inspiring results to crime statistics. So would allowing the victims to meet alone with the perpetrators for an hour’s attitude-adjustment session--rather than sending the criminals into closed-door dress rehearsals with the judges and legal-aid lawyers before they give their rehearsed renditions in the public forum.
It is unconscionable that peaceable citizens should have to be prisoners caged behind window bars and barb-wired chain-link fencing like in Third-World Countries while irresponsible hoodlums run free in the streets to commit dastardly deeds with total impunity.
A Supporting Article
In response to my above article, Ms. P.R. Cumming, a senior citizen, came back with a very good supporting article captioned “We Must Be Able to Defend Our Homes”.
Jane Gaffin’s commentary in the Whitehorse Star (Sept.15/00) headlined “Zero Tolerance for Crimes Against Good People”, is an excellent one. It should be read by everyone, particularly the members of the judiciary, because it draws to our attention an ugly situation in our community of which we should all be aware.
On June 28, 2000, my son and daughter-in-law returned to their comfortable, well-appointed home in Porter Creek to discover that their house had been broken into, burglarized and trashed.
During the period of June 14 to June 28, while they were in Dawson on a job, someone had kicked in a door and stolen a VCR, camcorder, brand new portable stereo, .22 rifle (since recovered), and a very good Buck or Gerber folding knife.
Not satisfied with this, they used steak sauce to write obscenities on the stove and counter, and used mustard to write “GM2000” (whatever that means) on an end table. They threw eggs on a newly-painted living room wall, dumped ketchup all over a kitchen table and carpet, and poured grenadine on the chesterfield.
They pulled papers on the floor in the computer room and totally wrecked one bedroom by emptying closets and drawers, and rummaged through a jewelry box, taking some gold nugget pieces.
Approximately two months later, during Discovery Day weekend, the same kind of destruction was wreaked on five houses in Porter Creek, according to Ms. Gaffin’s account.
It’s not totally fair to blame the police on their perceived lack of action in these cases, because it appears they are handicapped in two ways:
First, the new gun law severely restricting the owning of a gun for protection, renders the assailants (who are cowards to begin with) quite free of the worry that they may get hurt.
So, they prey on senior citizens, who they feel are weak and defenceless. And they bash into houses that are not occupied by the owners, and, for some reason hard to fathom, they demonstrate their hatred and contempt for those who have accomplished something by destroying, wrecking and ruining. Maybe it’s because these people are incapable of accomplishing anything themselves.
Secondly, if an accused, after a long time, is finally brought to court, much too often, a soft-hearted judge will listen to his whining and let him off with a slap on the wrist because he had harsh toilet training as a child, or some such story of an abused youth, real or imagined.
A man’s home is his castle. He should feel safe in it. He should feel that his government should help to protect him; is on his side, so to speak. And he should be allowed to defend it without becoming a lawbreaker himself!
But none of us feel safe, and it’s not getting any better. I am told that to have our house wrecked, or your vehicle stolen, joy-ridden and trashed, is devastating, and it takes months, even years, to recover from it.
Cleaning up the mess is not the only bad effect you have to deal with. It is emotionally damaging, and causes good people to lose faith in the authorities, who should be doing more to prevent it from happening.
If one of those sympathetic judges had his own home destroyed by vandals, maybe his attitude would change a bit.
What to do? I am not in favour of public anarchy. But when ordinary people feel they cannot protect their homes, families and property, it is clearly up to the judiciary to assume the responsibility they are paid for, or they will surely invite vigilantism.
After all, how can you blame a home owner and father of a family if he feels he must take matters into his own hands, when the authorities appear to be dragging their feet?
By the way, former justice minister (Allan) Rock’s new, undemocratic, goofy gun law, pushed through by (Prime Minister) Chretien’s trained seals in the House of Commons and thence passed by the Liberal-appointed hacks in the Senate, will not do much to protect us. Apart from being obscenely expensive to enforce his law, the criminal element will still get guns and ammunition illegally as they always have and always will, more so now, as law-abiding gun owners are immobilized by legislation.
To add insult to injury, we are now subjected to a ridiculous commercial on TV showing two actors portraying a couple of morons discussing the fact that they should rush to get their gun permits early so they can take advantage of a reduced rate.
And we are paying for that commercial, too.
Jane Gaffin, October 3, 2011