A mere citizen would be facing a myriad of criminal charges, but that's to be expected in the New Canada, where Justice and Criminality are determined not by your actions, but by your job title.
Take the case of Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham. Chief Graham left his loaded service pistol under the front seat of his police car.
Any mere citizen would be, as I said, facing numerous charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.
According to those who know far better than I do about these things, here is a list of charges drawn up by respected Ontario lawyer Solomon Friedman that you, me or any other licensed firearm owner would face if we had left a loaded pistol with no trigger lock or locked gun case underneath the front seat of our vehicle, as Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham did:
1. Careless storage of a firearm - CC Section 86 (1)
2. Storage of a firearm contrary to regulations - CC Section 86 (2)
3. Possession of a restricted firearm in an unauthorized place - CC Section 93(1)
4. Unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm in a motor vehicle - CC Section 94 (1)
5. Unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition - CC Section 95 (1)
Now to be clear, you and I may not be charged with ALL of these Criminal Code offenses, but they are the ones we could be charged with. The maximim penalties for these crimes range from 2 to 10 years in prison.
That does not count any additional charges that would result after our homes were searched by SWAT Teams, who would seize all our legally-owned firearms "for public safety."
Chief Jamie Graham, of course, was not arrested or charged with any crime, nor was his home searched by a SWAT Team, despite this being standard operating procedures when dealing with any mere citizen. The only punishment he will ever face for his crime is a letter of reprimand that has been placed in his permanent file.
How's that for a deterrent?
"Just as I expect every member of this department to take full responsibility for their actions, I take responsibility for this incident and I accept the discipline authority's findings," Chief Jamie Graham said in a statement.
Well, why not "take responsibility for this incident" when doing so means absolutely nothing and has zero consequences attached?
Much ink has been spilled about the fact that police officers and police constables are not subject to the Criminal Code sanctions for firearm violations like you, me and any other mere citizen is.
While it is true that there are specific exemptions written into the law for members of law enforcement while performing their duties, one Victoria lawyer has made the case publicly that these exceptions do NOT apply and that Chief Jamie Graham should be charged with a criminal code offense.
Section 117.07 of the Criminal Code of Canada lists the exemptions for police, and they are many.
- 117.07 (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, but subject to section 117.1, no public officer is guilty of an offence under this Act or the Firearms Actby reason only that the public officer
- (a) possesses a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance in the course of or for the purpose of the public officer’s duties or employment;
- (b) manufactures or transfers, or offers to manufacture or transfer, a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, any ammunition or any prohibited ammunition in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment;
- (c) exports or imports a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment;
- (d) exports or imports a component or part designed exclusively for use in the manufacture of or assembly into an automatic firearm in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment;
- (e) in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment, alters a firearm so that it is capable of, or manufactures or assembles any firearm with intent to produce a firearm that is capable of, discharging projectiles in rapid succession during one pressure of the trigger;
- (f) fails to report the loss, theft or finding of any firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance that occurs in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment or the destruction of any such thing in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment; or
- (g) alters a serial number on a firearm in the course of the public officer’s duties or employment.
Naturally, the spokesperson for Victoria's Police Board, one Katie Josephson, made the claim that police officers are exempt from the safe-storage regulations while acting in the course of their duties.
"During the time Chief Graham had improperly stored his service pistol, he was on duty and engaged in authorized policing activities," she said.
Victoria lawyer Christopher A. Siver makes the point in his article in the Victoria Times-Colonist that nothing in Section 117.07 exempts Chief Graham from charges under Section 86 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It is true, however that members of police forces do NOT require a firearms license, nor are they required to pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and obtain a Possession and Acquisition Licence if they do not own personal firearms.
The statement that criminal law regarding the safe handling of firearms does not apply to police is false. Section 86 of the Criminal Code makes it a crime to "handle, ship, transport or store a - prohibited [or] restricted weapon - in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of others."
Section 117.07 of the code lists the exemptions for police. None of the exemptions apply to careless handling or being without reasonable precautions for the safety of others. Leaving a loaded weapon under a seat in an unattended car is unsafe storage and careless handling. The officer searching Chief Jamie Graham's car would not have expected the chief to leave a loaded handgun lying on the floor of the front seat. The chief's actions put real people in danger.
The elements of the crime are there and admitted. A conviction is easily secured and is in the public interest as it is important for the Crown to show on a constant basis that no one person, no matter what office they occupy, is above the law. The fact that the garage was locked and only authorized personnel had access to the vehicle is inconsequential to the fact that the crime was committed. That is an issue Graham's lawyer can take up with a judge on sentencing.
The problem here is one of double-standards and hypocrisy based not on the actions of the criminal but of the job title he holds.
Solely because he is the Chief of Police, Jamie Graham will never face the full and oppressive weight of the State for the criminal acts which he freely admits to.
You and I, however, don't have the luxury of a fancy job title, so if we were to ever be found breaking the same laws in Victoria as Chief Graham did, you can bet the Victoria Police Department SWAT Team (no doubt on orders from Chief Graham himself) would be paying you a visit and you would NOT enjoy the experience.
For more, please watch Brian Lilley and Solomon Friedman discussing Chief Jamie Graham's criminal code violations on Brian's show Byline.