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Body Armour Control Act: Revisited


I first wrote about BC’s Body Armour Control Act on October 24, 2009.  At that time, I had little understanding of how quickly bills can move through provincial legislatures.  Even by provincial standards, this bill was pushed through with lightning speed, leaving practically no time for public input.  By the time I wrote my blog entry, it had already passed 2nd Reading.  Two days later, on October 26, 2009, the bill went through Committee, Report, Amendment and passed 3rd Reading – all in a single day!  On October 29, 2009 the bill received Royal Assent. 

First Reading October 20, 2009
Second Reading October 22, 2009
Committee October 26, 2009
Report October 26, 2009
Amended October 26, 2009
Third Reading October 26, 2009
Royal Assent October 29, 2009
Source: http://qp.gov.bc.ca/39th1st/votes/progress-of-bills.htm

What is it?

A brief backgrounder for those who don’t know, this Act was introduced in an effort to curb gang violence in BC, particularly Vancouver.  The idea is that by restricting access to body armour, it will reduce a criminal’s “sense of security” making them less likely to engage in shootouts in our communities. 

Though there are many faults with this legislation, the biggest one is the complete lack of logic involved.  Criminals will always have have access to body armour, and they’re highly unlikely to acquire a permit or register it with police.  In effect, the only thing this bill does, is give the Solicitor General 15 minutes of fame, and take away the ability of the public to possess a passive safety device.

For more details, see my previous blog post.

What’s the status now?

From February 25 – March 12, 2010 the Public Safety and Solicitor General’s office has opened the floor to “Interested Stakeholders” to give input into the regulations that will bring this act into force.  Here is the Proposed Framework on which they would like your feedback:

Proposed Framework

  • Types of Body Armour to be Included

It is envisioned that Body Armour Control Act (BACA) Regulations and policy will apply to body armour that is ballistic, stab and/or puncture resistant. This will include trauma plates, inserts and other devices that can be added to the vests over a localized area to increase the wearer’s protection against blunt trauma injuries or projectiles fired from a firearm.

This may include, but not be limited to garments and items which meet the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard 0101.06 – Standards for Ballistic resistance of Personal Body Armour, types II,IIA, III, IIIA or IV or National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard 0115.00 – Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armour, levels 1, 2 or 3.

  • Body Armour Permit Requirements

Unless exempt under the BACA or Regulations from the requirement to obtain a body armour permit, individuals wanting to possess body armour will be required to make an application to the Registrar of Security Services for a Body Armour Permit. This may include those wanting to possess body armour due to non-violent threats to personal safety related to a sport, hobby or occupation (e.g., sport shooting club members) or individuals with threats to their personal safety of an ongoing nature.

Permit applicants will be required to provide personal information – including name, date of birth and contact information – and will be required to prove a reasonable need for the possession of body armour. In addition, applicants will have to undergo a criminal record check and pay a permit fee (fee estimates at this time are $90 for 5-year term and $45 for renewal).

Once a risk assessment is performed on the applicant, a permit will be issued to the individual allowing them to purchase, wear or possess body armour. A permit holder must carry the permit when in possession of body armour and produce it upon request by a peace officer or inspector.

  • Body Armour Permit Exemptions

There are a number of legitimate uses of body armour where it is required for protection in the course of one’s employment or job-related duties. Among those that will be exempt from the requirement to obtain a body armour permit are individuals employed by police and other enforcement agencies, armoured car guards, security guards, security consultants and private investigators. Proof of exemption will be required to be carried by these individuals when purchasing body armour or when in possession of body armour and will be linked to their security worker license, badge number, employee identification or verification document as applicable.

Exemptions to requiring a permit will also be considered for those individuals who do not reside in British Columbia but require body armour during their stay (i.e., diplomats) and/or individuals with imminent threats to their personal safety.

An individual in an exempt category must carry proof of exemption and produce it upon request by a peace officer or inspector when in possession of body armour.

  • Body Armour Business and Sales Persons Licensing Requirements

Businesses that sell body armour and their employees play an important role in ensuring that purchasers of body armour are authorized to do so. Businesses that sell body armour in British Columbia will be required to obtain a security business license under the Security Services Act to sell body armour, and employees of the business selling the body armour must obtain a security worker licence with licence type Body Armour Sales. Body Armour vendors will also be required to record information about body armour sales to show that sales are made only to people who are authorized to possess body armour.

What can I do?

Use the feedback form provided by the PSSG or send an e-mail to Sylvia.Montagnaro@gov.bc.ca

Let your lawmakers know that it is completely unacceptable for them to push through legislation without public input.  Tell them that this Act is an abomination that infringes on your charter rights.  It is a useless piece of legislation that will do nothing to improve public safety, it will reduce public respect for police officers who must enforce it, and it is nothing more than a blatant tax grab.  Let them know that the voters will hold them accountable.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  MARCH 12, 2010

Body Armour Control Act


On October 20, Kash Heed, the Solicitor General of British Columbia, introduced new legislation that would effectively ban body armour in the province of BC (see here for the news story).

To put it rather bluntly, Bill 16-2009 (Body Armour Control Act) is an abomination of legislation that should never have seen the light of day.  In an effort to reduce gang violence, Mr Heed has proposed that only those who can prove a legitimate need for body armour should be allowed to purchase and possess it in BC.  Additionally, the legislation proposes that the province should create a permit system and a registry to keep track of all citizens who are legally allowed to own body armour.  Anyone found to be in illegal possession of this armour could face up to a $10,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

I can see several problems with this proposed law, right off the top.

1)  There’s this pesky little document known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Section 7 goes something like this:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Somehow I really don’t think that the government’s argument, that a passive safety device needs to be restricted just because a criminal might use it, really qualifies as a “principle of fundamental justice”.

2)  The logic (and I use that word very loosely) employed by Mr Heed, is that if access to body armour is restricted, gangsters will no longer be able to use it, taking away their “sense of security”, and therefore reducing the number of shootings in our cities.

By that same “logic”, in order to reduce high speed chases, we should ban seatbelts.  After all, without them, criminals would no longer feel “safe” speeding and would stop running away from police.  Right??

Does anyone else smell the BS?

3)  By definition, a gangster is a criminal.  They have proven time and again that they have no regard for the laws of our society.  So by what stretch of the imagination does the Solicitor General believe that even one single gang member will abide by this one?  If, for some unlikely reason, a criminal wasn’t able to purchase body armour on the black market within BC, it wouldn’t exactly be a hardship to legally purchase it in either Alberta or the Yukon.  The last time I checked, there wasn’t a manned border between provinces and territories in this country.

4)  Say a criminal is caught committing a crime, and the crown throws the book at him, charging him with every firearm, weapon and body armour offense they can think of.  Do you really think he’ll ever be convicted of any of those lesser charges?  Of course not.  As has already been proven time and again with the Firearms Act, the lesser charges will be plea-bargained away in order to make the “important” charge stick.

So under this proposed new law, as usual, it will only be the general public who are convicted.  It will be the men and women who innocently forget to renew their permit, or make a simple mistake on their forms, who will suffer.  They are the ones who will be found guilty, convicted of “paper crimes”, while the real criminals go about business as usual.

5)  As I previously mentioned, one of the key components of this proposed Act is a permit and registry system.  Everyone who has a legitimate need for body armour will have to fill out a form and apply for a permit to possess body armour.  Every person who is deemed eligible to possess body armour will be recorded in a database. It will be that person’s responsibility to keep the permit current, and to ensure that all the information contained in the registry is correct.

So, where is the money to operate this permit and registry system going to come from?  Setting up the permit office(s) and starting the registry will be an expensive proposition, and that money will be coming straight out of the taxpayer’s pockets.  At a time when the global economy is in turmoil, you’d think the government could find something better to spend our money on.

6)  Continuing on the theme of the registry, one more question comes to mind: How does making a list of law-abiding citizens have any affect whatsoever on crime?  I’m sure the criminals are just shaking in their boots right now thinking about this proposed new law.  Shaking with laughter that is.  Our government and lawmakers are going to be so busy making lists of honest people that they’re not going to have time to go after the criminals!

This Bill has just passed first reading in the provincial legislature, so there is still time to try and stop it.  Even if it does pass (which I’m afraid it will), it would likely be overturned on a Charter Appeal.  But it shouldn’t need to be.

Why do our lawmakers insist on continually putting forward such flawed legislation?  If I, an average Jane, can immediately see so many holes in their argument, why can’t they?  Our leaders can’t really be this naïve and misguided can they?

There is a part of me that still wants to believe that these are just honest men and women doing the best they can for our society.  But the jaded cynic in me is winning out.  I can’t help but wonder why every single new law seems to strip away more of our rights.  I can’t help but wonder why so many people are so eager to willingly give up their basic freedoms. 

What makes me really sick though, is that this gradual erosion of our rights, always seems to be done in the name of “public safety”.  Call me crazy, but here’s a thought: if our leaders are truly interested in public safety, shouldn’t they be focusing on the criminals, rather than making lists of the innocent?

Bill C-391 Must Pass


Regardless of personal opinions on gun control, everyone in Canada should be hoping and praying that Bill C-391 is passed.  This Bill was put forward earlier this year by Candice Hoeppner (Portage – Lisgar) before Parliament recessed for the summer.  The aim of this Bill is to dismantle the travesty known as the Long Gun Registry. The Bill is slated for Second Reading in the House of Commons tomorrow, on September 28.

What is the Long Gun Registry?

The Registry is a component of the convoluted Firearms Act.  The Act is so verbose that most Law Enforcement Officers couldn’t even begin to explain it to you, but that’s an entirely different topic in its own right.  By law, all legally purchased firearms in Canada must be registered to their owner.  Information held in the registry includes (but is by no means limited to):

  • Name, address and phone number of firearms license holders (regardless of whether or not they actually own any firearms)
  • Marital status of firearms license holders
  • Make, model and serial number of all firearms registered to a license holder

It has been the law in Canada to register all handguns since the 1930s.  However, it was not necessary to register rifles and shotguns until 1998 when the Firearms Act was created.  This new portion of the registry is what is being referred to when people say Long Gun Registry.  When Bill C-391 is passed (I’m thinking positively!), Canadians will still be required to register handguns; but they will no longer be required to register their hunting rifles and shotguns.

I don’t own any guns.  In fact, I don’t even LIKE guns.  Why should I care about this Bill or the Registry?

I really struggled with how best to answer this question.  There are so many different directions that I could take that I found myself overwhelmed and unsure where to start.  What it all boils down to though, is that the Liberal politicians who pushed this legislation through and the powerful Gun Control lobby who pulled their strings, lied to us all.  The registry does nothing to stop criminals from getting guns and it turns honest citizens into criminals.

The likes of Alan Rock and Wendy Cukier promised us that this registry would reduce gun crime and remove illegal guns from our streets.  They promised us that the database would be efficient and secure and be of minimal cost to the taxpayer.  And they promised us that the registry would never be used to confiscate firearms from private citizens.

Well, the registry is none of these things.  As mentioned in my previous entry regarding the RCMP’s blatant disregard for the security of gun owner’s information, the database is far from secure.  The risk to public safety is immeasurable and could have far-reaching consequences (see this gentleman’s blog for a breakdown of the potential security threat) After more than a decade, it is still incomplete (some estimate that as many as 70% of all firearms in Canada are still unregistered), and it is so full of errors that the information it contains is inadmissible in court.  Additionally, despite what the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) would have the public believe, the overwhelming majority of front line Law Enforcement Officers do not trust the information contained in the registry and think that it should be dismantled.

In fact, the Attorney General conducted two audits of the Canadian Firearms Centre and the registry (in 2002 and 2006) and found the entire thing to be woefully mismanaged.  Not only are there massive cost overruns – the registry was originally estimated to cost taxpayers only $119 million, but has since ballooned to roughly $2 billion – but they could not account for where most of that money was going. In addition, there are absolutely no systems in place to demonstrate how licensing and registration are performing.  In other words, there are no performance standards in place to determine whether or not the program is even remotely effective in its stated aims.

To make matters worse, just this last week, in Toronto, the police have started going door to door confiscating firearms using the flawed information contained in the registry.  They are targeting people who allowed their firearms license to lapse.  These are paper crimes, determined by looking at the information in the registry.  But as we’ve already determined, there’s no way of knowing if the information the police are using is even correct.

Most troubling of all though, is this quote from Wendy Cukier, founder of the Coalition for Gun Control and perhaps the most vocal proponent for gun control in Canada (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003070516_canguns19.html):

“Although it doesn’t directly address the problem of illegal handguns, the registry helps create a culture that believes guns are dangerous and owners must be held accountable.”

Even the Gun Control Lobby themselves admits that the registry does not address illegal firearms.  According to the Gun Control Lobby, the purpose of the registry is to create a culture of fear, not to prevent crime.  They want to hold gun owners accountable…for what?  The actions of criminals?  You see, that’s the thing about professional lobbyists, no matter how emotional their pleas, at the end of the day their only interest is the limelight and their own political careers.  Unfortunately for us, fear is a very powerful currency in the game of politics, and it’s to their benefit to keep the public afraid.

Breaking it down to the simplest idea, the key flaw of this database is that it’s designed to keep track of the wrong people.  Instead of wasting $2 billion and 10 years making a list of everyone who was fit to own a firearm, they should have been making a list of everyone who was unfit to own one.  Wouldn’t that make more sense?  It would definitely be a much shorter list.

I’m not asking anyone who dislikes guns to change their mind.  I’m not trying to convince anyone that guns aren’t used during the commission of crimes.  I am asking that people open their eyes and see that the registry is not the right path. 

Take a moment and just imagine what a difference $2 billion and 10 years of effective crime prevention strategies could have accomplished in our cities.

Please contact your MP and tell them to support C-391.  Tell them that this gross waste of taxpayer’s money and government resources needs to be dismantled.  Tell them that the risk to public safety is unacceptable.  Tell them that if they really want to tackle the issue of crime that maybe, just maybe, they should focus on the criminals.

Bill C-6: Enough is enough!


The problem with a government passing laws in the “best interests” of its citizens is that there is the presumption that the government actually knows what is in the “best interests” of its citizens.

This new Bill was passed by the House of Commons and had its first reading before the Senate in June of this year.  Debate in the Senate is slated to continue when Parliament returns this month.

So what is it?  Bill C-6 is meant to strengthen our consumer safety and protection laws.  The intent is to increase powers granted to Inspectors to prevent unsafe products from being sold to consumers.

Sounds okay to me.  What’s the problem?  In its current form, the Bill is so poorly worded that it gives Inspectors the right to enter a person’s home and seize any consumer product that it deems “unsafe”. 

For the full text of Bill C-6, look here.  Read on to find out which parts I find most worrisome.

Consumer Product is defined as: a product, including its components, parts or accessories, that may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes, and includes its packaging.

Under Schedule 1 of the proposed bill, consumer products include: explosives, cosmetics, food, pest control products, vehicles, fertilizers, vessels, firearms, ammunition, cartridge magazines, cross-bows, prohibited devices, plants, seeds, controlled substances, aeronautical products, and animals.

I’d wager that there isn’t a household in Canada that doesn’t own at least one of those consumer products.

20. (1) Subject to subsection 21(1), an inspector may, for the purpose of verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance with this Act or the regulations, at any reasonable time enter a place, including a conveyance, in which they have reasonable grounds to believe that a consumer product is manufactured, imported, packaged, stored, advertised, sold, labelled, tested or transported, or a document relating to the administration of this Act or the regulations is located.

What household doesn’t “store” or “transport” one of the consumer products listed above?

Under what circumstances would a product be deemed “unsafe”? As defined by the Bill, a Danger to Human Health or Safety” means any unreasonable hazard — existing or potential — that is posed by a consumer product during or as a result of its normal or foreseeable use and that may reasonably be expected to cause the death of an individual exposed to it or have an adverse effect on that individual’s health — including an injury — whether or not the death or adverse effect occurs immediately after the exposure to the hazard, and includes any exposure to a consumer product that may reasonably be expected to have a chronic adverse effect on human health.

I have a very huge problem with the word “unreasonable”.  It’s vague.  Its meaning is variable depending on the circumstances and the person interpreting the law.  Call me silly, but when a law is going to infringe on my Charter Rights, I’d really rather not have any “gray areas” included in it.  Ambiguity just makes it that much easier for the law to be abused.  This is, of course, not touching on the fact that if a law infringes on our Charter Rights it shouldn’t even be a law at all.

Here’s a few more relevant sections for your reading pleasure:

20.(2) The inspector may, for the purpose referred to in subsection (1),

(d) seize and detain for any time that may be necessary

            (i) an article to which this Act or the regulations apply that is found in the place, or

            (ii) the conveyance;

20.(4) An inspector who is carrying out their functions or any person accompanying them may enter on or pass through or over private property, and they are not liable for doing so.

21. (1) If the place mentioned in subsection 20(1) is a dwelling-house, an inspector may not enter it without the consent of the occupant except under the authority of a warrant issued under subsection (2).

(2) A justice of the peace may, on ex parte application, issue a warrant authorizing, subject to the conditions specified in the warrant, the person who is named in it to enter a dwelling-house if the justice of the peace is satisfied by information on oath that

(a) the dwelling-house is a place described in subsection 20(1);

(b) entry to the dwelling-house is necessary for the purposes referred to in subsection 20(1); and

(c) entry to the dwelling-house was refused or there are reasonable grounds to believe that it will be refused or to believe that consent to entry cannot be obtained from the occupant.

23. An inspector who seizes a thing under this Act may

(a) on notice to and at the expense of its owner or the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure, store it or move it to another place; or

(b) order its owner or the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure to store it or move it to another place at their expense.

What does all this legal mumbo-jumbo mean? In plain English all of this means that Government Inspectors can arbitrarily deem a consumer product “unsafe”, enter your home with or without your consent, seize your property, and make you pay for the privilege of having it seized.

I had hoped that a Conservative government in this country would (at least temporarily) put an end to the Liberal tendency to Nanny Statism.  Unfortunately, it seems that my hopes were in vain.  It would appear that Canada has been set on a path that it cannot (or will not) deviate from. I can only ask: how much longer before stories like V for Vendetta are more truth than fiction?