Recreational Firearms Community
The Firearms Act provides that a firearms officer may inspect any premises where there is suspicion of more than 10 guns existing Who can do this and how can it be done? Who can enter to inspect? This is a firearms officer only (no other officers or helpers). Under C-68 firearms officers are restricted to designated offices. Not every police officer is a firearms officer. At the present time this should include your local firearms officer who assists in issuing transport permits and registration applications for restricted firearms. In Ontario there are less than 200 such officers. This number may shrink considerably.
The procedure is begun by a firearms officer contacting you to arrange for a date and time to inspect. You are obligated to make the arrangement within a reasonable time. That is when the firearms officer contacts you, you get back to him or her in a reasonable time to set the appointment some time in the future when it is convenient for both of you. Then the officer will attend and inspect your building. If you consent to this the officer can stay until you revoke consent or until he/she is finished.
Issues that arise are:
Section 7 of the Charter of Rights states that you are not obligated to incriminate yourself. You have a right to silence. This is absolute. You cannot be conscripted into building a case to be prosecuted against you. C-68 provides that you must let the firearms officer in (and no other officers to assist, no other person either) and he/she may search anywhere a gun or documents about guns may reasonably be hidden. And you must help by opening up closed places. This requirement that you open up places, safes, cabinets, walls is contrary to section 7 of the Charter. No case law support this requirement. Pre-C-68, if the police attend at your home with a warrant you do not have to open the door. The police must knock and announce that it is the police with a warrant. You then decide to open the door or not. You are not obligated to open the door, but, if you open the door you cannot close it in the officer's face. That is obstruction. If the police force your door open they must then maintain security on your home and must fix the door. They have a budget to do this. Once in your house the police can search and open places that are relevant to the warrant.
You do not have to help them. You may record, video or take pictures without obstructing the police. Also you can leave if you are not under arrest If the police want to keep you at your home they must arrest you. You can call for legal advice.
C-68 seeks to change that. The past cases decided by many judges across Canada and as high as the Supreme Court has struck down similar legislation under other Federal and Provincial statutes. If you fight the inspection and search legislation of C-68 it too will fall. The firearms officer who does inspect your building may find infractions and noncompliance. He/she may just ask you to correct these and then return for a double-check or the firearms officer may be under instructions to have no discretion and to lay a criminal charge for the slightest infraction. The police are there to gather evidence against you. Your particular firearms officer may be replaced or may report to a superior officer who may decide to charge you with a criminal offense and seize all your guns, ammunition and other weapons.
Why should you voluntarily be subject to such jeopardy? The Supreme Court of Canada believes you have a right to privacy in your home, your office and your car when it is parked in your driveway. Cherish that right to privacy and fight to maintain it.
EDWARD L. BURLEW, L.L.B.
FIREARMS LAW SPECIALIST
16 JOHN STREET, THORNHILL, ONTARIO L3T 1X8
MY COMMITMENT: TO VIGOROUSLY ADVOCATE YOUR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, TO PROTECT YOUR HERITAGE RIGHTS. TO HOLD TRUE TO THE TRADITIONS OF SPORTSMEN.
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