The response to armed self-defense in the home during a home invasion is so different in Canada and America that it borders on the bizarre. I’ll use a recent example of the case of a 14-year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona to make my case.
First I will explain the facts of the case, then I’ll delve into the response of the Phoenix Police Department and then, finally, explain what the Canadian police response would be.
First, the facts:
On June 22, 2012 an armed intruder broke into a family home in Phoenix, Arizona. Both parents were out of the home, leaving their oldest son, a 14-year-old boy, in charge of taking care of his three younger siblings. An unknown woman rang the doorbell and attempted to gain entrance to the home. The boy wisely refused entry to the woman since he did not know her.
The boy then heard loud bangs against the door and while that was happening he ran upstairs, grabbed his father’s handgun from its place in his parents’ bedroom and returned down the hallway to the top of the stairs, where he saw an armed man break the front door open and point a weapon at him.
The boy promptly shot the 37-year-old intruder with his father’s handgun, wounding the home invader severely, but not fatally. The man survived and is in hospital recovering from his wounds under police guard.
Thankfully the armed intruder never fired a shot.
That’s what happened in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday, June 22, 2012.
Next, the response of the Phoenix Police Department to these facts.
Police Officer James Holmes gave the following statement to reporters:
"The police and indeed our community does not ever want to see a situation where a teenager of that age has to take a weapon to protect his family ... but this young man did exactly what he should have done. I'm not sure he gave full thought about what he had to do. He just acted.”
Holmes added that the family is lucky that the teen acted so swiftly and effectively.
“As ugly as this is, and as much as this family is going through, we don't have injured children on our hands," he concluded.
Did you hear that? He congratulated the boy for doing whatever he had to do to keep himself and his siblings safe. He fully supported the boy in shooting the armed intruder who was threatening his life and the lives of his siblings.
That is, of course, precisely what Officer James Holmes should do, too.
He then expressed his sympathy for the father of the children who was understandably distressed at what had happened while he was out of the home.
"The dad was pretty much out of his mind with distress, officers couldn't even talk to him," Holmes said. "It's going to take them a while to recover mentally."
No doubt. A father wants, more than anything, to protect his children. That he wasn’t there when it mattered most is obviously of grave concern to him. Coupled with the fact his son acted so bravely, he’s surely filled with conflicting emotions.
The police response to all of that is nothing but supportive of the entire family, just as they should be.
And then we come, lastly, to the most probable response of Canadian police when faced with a similar set of facts...
The actual criminal in this case, the armed home invader, would be taken to hospital and given the best care possible. When he was well enough to face trial, he might even face charges of attempted armed robbery. Any charge of illegal weapon possession would be plea-bargained away (as they almost always are) and the criminal would serve minimal time in jail, if any.
The boy would probably be charged with attempted murder for the “crime” of saving his own live and the lives of his siblings. He would be slapped with a lifetime firearms prohibition.
The father (and possibly the mother) would likely be charged with unsafe storage of a restricted firearm, reckless endangerment of human life and anything else the cops figured they could make stick. They would face, at a minimum, 10-year firearm prohibitions for the crime of making sure their children could defend themselves if necessary.
The boy would be sent to juvenile prison where any hopes and dreams he may have had for his life would be snuffed out and, in all likelihood, he would end up in and out of jail for the rest of his life.
All in all, the family members would spend 3-5 times more time in prison than the actual criminal in this case, the armed home invader.
The police would issue a press release about the dangers of “taking the law into your own hands”, even though that is not what happened at all.
Canadians would also be admonished that it is too dangerous to defend yourself and that job belongs to the police, even though court case after court case proves otherwise. The courts rule consistently that the police have no duty to protect any individual person, ever.
Their job is to arrive after the crime is committed, collect evidence, draw pretty little chalk lines around the corpses and lay murder charges if they ever find the person or persons responsible.
Yeah, it does, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Do you recall the case of Ian Thomson from Port Colbourne, Ontario? Thomson is living proof of what I’ve just recounted.
Ian Thomson is the man who dared defend his own life as three masked men screamed death threats and threw Molotov cocktails at his home, lighting it on fire. They were trying to kill him by burning his house down around him and were very serious about their task.
What stopped them? Ian Thomson retrieved his legally-owned and registered handgun, loaded it and fired a couple of warning shots. The cowards then did what cowards usually do when faced with resistance: they fled the scene.
How did Ontario police handle Thomson’s wise decision-making in the face of imminent danger? They arrested Thomson and charged him with two criminal code offences, one of which was dropped about six months later.
The second charge, unsafe storage of a firearm, is still before the courts for reasons that no rational human being can comprehend.
For the “crime” of retrieving his legally-owned and registered pistol from his gun safe, loading it and then firing a couple of warning shots to scare away the attempted murderers, Ian Thompson is facing prison time.
Police maintain that Ian Thomson retrieved his handgun “too quickly” for it to have been safely stored.
It doesn’t matter that he’s videotaped and timed himself recreating the same actions he did the fateful night when his life was in grave danger. It doesn’t matter that the videotape shows it is entirely possible to do exactly as he said he did.
The police and Crown prosecutors are the sole arbiter of what is “possible”, or in this case, what an acceptable time frame is for retrieving the tool that will save your life.
I find that totally absurd.
Police in Port Colbourne should have done what Police Officer James Holmes did in the case of the Phoenix boy. They should have congratulated him for ensuring he could protect himself until police could arrive. They should have congratulated him for not actually killing his attempted murderers.
This is Canada though, where the innocent are considered the danger to society and violent criminals are routinely released to commit more crimes as the case of the Eaton’s Center shooting proves so disgustingly well.
To quote Canadian Dr. Mike Ackermann, “When will we as a nation grow up?”