Tag Archives: public safety

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

RCMP Gives Confidential Information to a Private Company


This week the Canadian Shooting Sports Association released an alert regarding a poll that is being conducted by Ekos Research Associates.  This poll is supposedly a “client satisfaction survey” regarding the Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC).  The CFC is the call centre that administers the controversial firearms registry.  It is part of the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) which is run by the RCMP.  According to information available so far, this survey was commissioned by the RCMP. In order to conduct this poll, Ekos was granted access to confidential information without permission from the people involved or any type of oversight.

There’s so much wrong with this situation that I’m really not sure where to start.  I guess the RCMP’s own words regarding privacy and sharing of information is as good a place as any:

Does the CAFC share personal information collected for the Firearms Program with other agencies or the private sector?

Relevant Firearms Program information is disclosed only to federal and provincial public safety business partners that have legal authority to collect this information consistent with their public safety responsibilities. Program business partners include local and provincial police, the Canada Border Services Agency and International Trade Canada. The Privacy Act requires that those agencies must have a use consistent with the purpose for which the information was collected. In turn, those non-federal agencies to which firearms information is disclosed are bound by similar requirements under their jurisdictional privacy laws.

Furthermore, firearms information is not shared with any private sector agencies. Some private companies, however, can have access to personal information while under a contracted arrangement for software administration or records management procedures. Under the terms of those contracts, these companies cannot use or disclose information. Also, employees of private companies are thoroughly screened for security clearance to ensure that personal information is protected at the same level as federal requirements.

If someone can explain to me how a “client satisfaction survey” falls under either software administration or records management procedures I would really love to hear from you.  It would appear that not only has the RCMP blatantly violated the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), they have also acted in contravention of their own policy!

To add insult to injury, only 4 of the questions being asked have anything to do with “client satisfaction” (see the end of this entry for the full list of questions).  The remaining questions request information that is: already documented in the registry database, irrelevant and inappropriate, and/or nothing more than a thinly disguised fishing expedition.

Apart from the obvious and appalling privacy issues, one of my immediate concerns is public safety.  What security clearance do the pollsters have?  What type of confidentiality agreements are in place?  Who is accountable if this confidential information ends up in the wrong hands?  You see, we’re not just talking about names, phone numbers and addresses (which is bad enough in its own right!).  We’re talking about names and addresses in conjunction with a list of firearms stored at that address. 

The security of the registry database has been a bone of contention with firearms owners since its inception.  In the wrong hands, the information held in that database amounts to a detailed inventory and shopping list.  Criminal access to the registry database puts the safety of both firearms owners and the general public at serious, and unnecessary, risk.  The registry has, in fact, been hacked more than 300 times in the last decade, with several dozen of those cases still unsolved.

Riddle me this: if the RCMP can’t even keep my confidential information secure in their own databases, why would they think that a private company would be able to?  Or, for that matter, even care to?

If the privacy and public safety concerns regarding this issue weren’t enough, there is a third factor at play here too: politics.  The two points that are catching my attention are:

  • Bill C-391, a controversial private members bill seeking to abolish the long gun registry, is slated for its second reading in two weeks.
  • The Gun Control lobby launched an aggressive worldwide campaign (spearheaded by IANSA) over the summer in which they attempted to link legal firearms ownership to domestic violence.

I just can’t help but wonder at the timing of it all.  Especially when this survey asks questions about things like marital status, children in the home, types and numbers of firearms owned, and plans for future firearms purchases.  Add in the fact that the Gun Control lobby in Canada is funded by tax-payer money (courtesy of the Liberals) and that Michael Ignatieff seems to be hell-bent on toppling the minority Conservative government as soon as possible.  It’s definitely enough to make a person pause.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as coincidence, particularly in politics.

While I can only speculate as to the political reasons for this survey, there is no room for debate on the issues of public safety and the RCMP’s violation of the Privacy Act.  The Conservative government has already launched an investigation into the matter, and the CSSA and National Firearms Association (NFA) are contemplating criminal charges against those responsible.  There is even talk of a class action lawsuit, although at this stage that is little more than rumour.

I know that some readers are thinking, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just some innocent questions.”  The issue is not the questions being asked.  The issue is how Ekos came into possession of the list of people to whom they posed those questions.  The bottom line is this:  the RCMP intentionally distributed confidential information to a private company without permission or oversight, and in contravention of The Privacy Act and their own policies.

Given the nature of the information at the centre of this firestorm, and the history of security violations pertaining to that information, it is not at all unreasonable to be concerned about the safety of gun owners and the public at large.  This breach may well result in an innocent gun owner being killed, or his/her guns being stolen to kill someone else.

Someone is purposely playing with life and death, and likely for political gain.  People in positions of authority need to be shown that, even though the majority of Canadians would rather watch Big Brother than stand up to Big Brother, there are still those of us who are willing and able to hold them accountable for their actions.

 

As promised, here’s the list of questions being asked in the poll:

  • How do you contact the CFC?
  • How many times in a year do you contact the CFC?
  • What do you call about?
  • How satisfied were you?
  • What classification is your firearms license? (Restricted/Non-Restricted/Prohibited)
  • Do you own any firearms?
  • What’s your reason for owning firearms?
  • Will you renew your license?
  • When will you renew your license?
  • How do you renew your license?
  • Have you ever had a gun verified?
  • How was it verified?
  • Do you plan on updating your address?
  • Do you plan on transferring firearms in the future?
  • Do you plan on destroying firearms?
  • Do you plan on changing your license status?
  • Do you plan on deactivating a firearm?
  • Do you transport firearms?
  • Do you plan on acquiring more firearms?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with you? (E-Mail, Advertisement, Mail)
  • When looking for information about firearms how likely are you to contact (Between 1-7)
    • CFC, Friend and Club?
  • Are you married, single or common law?
  • Do you have children in the home?
    • How many under 18?
  • What is your highest level of education?
  • What is your annual income?

Public Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility


~Benjamin Franklin~  “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” 

This evening I watched “Guns”, a CBC miniseries that deals with gun violence on the streets of Toronto.  I’m not going to go into the merits of the show, which was rather one-dimensional to say the least.  The reason I bring it up, is because it really drove home a point for me.  The show starts off with a shooting on a busy street which results in innocent people being hurt.  For the next three hours the predominant message from the victims is “Someone needs to do something about all the guns” and “They need to stop this gun violence”.

Leaving the gun politics alone, I’d like you to please read those two sentences again and really let them sink in.

  • Someone needs to do something
  • They need to stop this

We hear those lines all the time, every day, in almost every single newscast.  A victim or a family member is interviewed after some crime, and it’s always the same, “Someone needs to do something.” 

How did our country get to this point?  When was it that people gave up responsibility for their own safety and well-being?  When did we, as a nation, decide to entrust our very lives to someone and they?  And who exactly are the elusive someone and they?

Well I have a newsflash.  Someone is you.  Someone is me.  They is each and every one of us.  The police can’t be everywhere at once, nor should they be expected to be.  It is not their job to protect us.  It is their job to maintain order, and they do that by attempting to catch criminals after a crime has been committed.  

I remember when I was a little girl, the message was simple: if someone tries to hurt you, fight back and hurt them more.  One of my earliest memories is of my Dad teaching me how and where to hit someone if they tried to abduct me. 

The message is very different today.  Submit.  Don’t anger your attacker.  Just give them what they want.  Be a good victim and call the police after the dust settles.

There is no doubt that submission is sometimes the best course of action.  But it shouldn’t be the only course of action.  Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants us the right to life, liberty and security of person.  Every human being has a very clear and unassailable right to self defense.  Unfortunately, years of left-wing governments have legislated away our ability to carry any of the tools that would help us to exercise that right.   Even carrying pepper spray for self defense is prohibited by law in Canada.

So where does that leave us?  We are now a society where only the criminals and police are armed and the citizens have been trained to meekly submit.  People seem to have forgotten that the role of government is to maintain public order.  Its role is not to act as nanny, providing for our every need and want with an endless progression of laws designed to protect us from ourselves.

Public safety begins with each and every one of us.  It is up to us to accept responsibility for our own lives, safety and well-being.  Rather than looking for the mysterious someone or they to blame or make things better, everyone should take a good long look in the mirror.  You are the only person on this earth who can keep yourself safe.  And the sooner the people of this country start to realize that, the safer our country will be.