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.

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