Guns, gangs and steel

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Unfortunately, Thomas Friedman's flatter world may mean more markets for Canadian goods, but it also means Vancouver's tony West Side has become a destination for Idaho's unregulated sale of illegal assault weapons.

The simple truth is that American weapons are fuelling gun battles in Vancouver, leaving our streets less safe, families more fearful, communities more isolated and our entire city reeling in shock.

As I write these words, a Canadian citizen, Marc Emery, guilty of no crime in Canada, sits in an American penitentiary in Georgia because he so angered the U.S. with his sales of pot seeds that our federal government was willing to subvert the Canadian rule of law to extradite him to serve time for an American crime.

Now that this precedent of extra-territorial legality has been set, we should have the right to insist on reciprocity, demanding that the U.S. and neighbouring states extradite rogue gun merchants to serve time in Canadian jails for the far worse violence they are wreaking on our streets.

This overwhelming flood of Guns, Gangs and Steel across our southern border is a clear and present danger — not some imagined mullah in a faraway Afghanistan cave — but very real, domestic terrorists wielding assault weapons right here on our streets.

There should be no higher priority of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP or the Vancouver Police Department than eliminating what must be recognized as an existential threat to the Canadian way of life. 

If government is defined as the actor that enjoys a monopoly on the use of force within any jurisdiction, these gangs and their guns represent a direct threat not just to public safety but to Canadian sovereignty itself.

What Can Be Done?

Authorities should focus first on eliminating illegal gun sales at source by targeting rogue American gun dealers through undercover stings, lawsuits and demanding better laws and enforcement from American states so quick to demand security concessions from us. Those found guilty of sending illegal weapons to criminal gangs in Canada should be extradited to serve time in maximum-security Canadian jails as the enemies of our peaceful nation that they are.

Second, the VPD and RCMP should start tracking data on every weapon used in the commission of a crime. If we know the manufacturer, seller and purchaser of every weapon used in a crime in our city, we can start interdicting those weapons in transit and at the border through intensified weapons inspection protocols, and tracking those that find their way into the arms of local criminals so they can be arrested on weapons charges the moment they take possession of illegal arms.

A smart prosecutor could easily use those weapons charges to mount an up-the-chain prosecution that would eventually bring down the kingpins behind this carnage on our streets.

Third, police in BC can now seize a citizen's vehicle without charge or appeal for having one glass of wine too many. So why are we allowing known gangsters to live among us? Why can't we enact laws that make commission of a crime using a weapon subject to much harsher penalties? And do the same for possession of any illegal weapon? One of the victims was charged with 27 firearm offenses just last month, yet was walking around free in our city.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg has led the way in launching undercover stings and lawsuits against rogue gun dealers in Virginia funnelling illegal arms to gangs in NYC. And 500 Mayors in the U.S. have banded together to fight this illegal scourge.

In Vancouver, our Mayor was reduced to calling 911 in response to the automatic gunfire that broke out just one block from his home. If ever there was a more chilling metaphor for helplessness in the face of violent gangs, I cannot imagine it.

“There were no innocent people struck by bullets,” we're told by police, as if a shootout on our public streets is no danger. 

But with that logic we surrender our streets to gangs seeking to destroy our way of life. It is time to take our streets back and eliminate this flood of illegal weapons into our city.

Calling 911 is no longer enough.

More in Kulture Shock

Is PAVCO's proposed mega-casino at B.C. Place too big to fail? No!!!!

Just picture it. We did. Cash from the proposed mega-casino at B.C. Place, heads down I-5 to the Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming as revenue. The sleaze stays here.
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Do you guys ever check your facts?

The GAO reported that most guns seized in Mexico, from cartels or anyone else, did not originate in the United States.  GAO noted, "In 2008, of the almost 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General's office said were seized, only around 7,200, or approximately a quarter, were submitted to ATF for tracing."  The other 75 percent were not submitted because their markings indicated they were not traceable to the U.S.  The reason Bloomberg omitted this fact is he wants America to look bad so his issue will look good.  He’s spinning his data into an issue he hopes will lead to national recognition.  Bloomberg is a dwarf politician with a billion dollars and he desperately wants to play with grown-up politicians.  He got away with this outrageous lie because most journalists helped him.  They didn’t check his facts.

His latest cause, closing the gun show loophole, has an unintended consequence.  A citizen wishing to sell an older firearm will be forced to obtain a criminal background report on a prospective buyer.  The additional cost, effort and time will cause most to forego the effort, keep the old gun and buy a new one.  Such a law will greatly reduce used gun availability, steering all buyers to new guns instead.  It’s another politically inspired bonanza for gun manufacturers.  Additionally, because only a tiny fraction of privately sold guns are used in crimes (usually 10 years after the initial legal purchase) such a law won’t make us any safer.  Closing the gun show loophole is another expensive violation of the 2nd Amendment that won’t accomplish anything.

IMO, both of our nations need to focus on the criminal instead of his tools.  It's a stretch of sanity to believe disarming citizens makes them less vulnerable to the nuts and criminals.

Well, Hmm

Why would we as Canadians want to pay for staff and jail facilities plus the cost of feeding and providing health care to American criminals? As far as my tax dollars are concerned the US can pay for their own criminals. Our health care and education systems are underfunded and overwhelmed- that is where our tax dollars need to go. In addition, trying to place the full burden of blame on American supplied guns strips the reality of a more complex problem down to a symptom not the cause. The people in Canada who are buying these guns and engaging in crime are doing so not because the guns are easily available but because there are several things fundamentally wrong in the provision of services and lack of care taken by our elected officials towards ensuring that our children are being raised in an environment that provides opportunity for success and that teaches them that a civilized and integrity based society means that all children are valued and that adults can be trusted. Take a stroll down the Granville Mall some weekday afternoon and see how many young teens are trying to find a waynto get food, warm clothing and a dry place to sleep-theynshould be fed, housed, in school but we as a society have failed to ensure that when their family units fail them that they have a safe haven. This isnbutnone small microcosm of the many many problems in our society. American supples guns are simply a symptom.

guns across the border

We don't have a second amendment. They do. And it refers to "a well regulated" citizens militia, not to gangsters. The whole mess could be largely solved by ending prohibition. The lead very largely stopped flying in Chicago back in the 30s after the Yanks did just that for booze. (And the consumption of alcohol the following year actually slightly declined!) If you want to get rid of illegal weapons, you've got to get rid of criminal profit from drug sales. It's that simple (but far from easy, given the attitude of our neighbours to the south).

US guns on Canadian territory

Sean Bickerton makes a wonderful proposal.

If the US can reach into Canada and arrest one of our own who has committed no crime here, let's do the same with US gun dealers whose reckless sales aid and abet crime in this country.

The US will, of course, oppose it, as will their pal Stephen Harper. But that's not the point.

The more urgent case is to require Americans to realize that their pro-gun mania kills people here too. The most violent First World nation anywhere imagines that the "right" to bear arms is more important that the right to live. In Canada, we are a good deal more humane and sensible about these things.

Let's extradite an American gun dealer whose weapons have been used to commit crime here. Fair trade, I believe it's called.