Kash Heed, the new BC Solicitor General introduced legislation that would make it illegal to purchase, posses, or wear “body armor” without a permit. I have written on this subject previously when it was first suggested and while this may seem like a small issue that only impacts very few, it is a prime example of what is wrong with our political system–or rather–what is wrong with our politicians.
Those who I have voiced concerns to all claim that banning body armor will give the police more “tools” to use against gangs. Really? The only “tools” I see are the politicians in the legislature.
Some will claim that police will be safer as a result of this bill. No they won’t. No police will be saved by this bill, as the kind of people who would arm themselves and then shoot illegal weapons are going to break any law banning body armor.
The question is why are the police out-gunned and out-armored by twenty-something year old criminals? If criminals can buy level 4 body armor with plate inserts, and a Canadian made special forces M-16, perhaps the police should have more than a thin vest and a potato gun? Though, that Taser is deadly…
The same arguments also invalidates the idea that the public will somehow be safer as a result of this legislation. In fact we will all be less safe as gangsters will still wear body armor, while us law abiding citizens are no longer allowed to protect ourselves… wtf?
I love analogies, they allow us to isolate contradictions; banning body armor is similar to the government banning all cars because a handful of gangsters use them to run each other over, or because someone rammed a police cruiser.
Maybe I’m being pessimistic. Let’s just imagine the legislation was a complete success… and gangsters began shooting at each other in grocery store parking lots without wearing body armor… How are we safer? Armor or no armor–unless someone strikes a very critical area early on in the gun fight–they will all run out of ammunition before it is over.
This is ultimately unconstitutional and no convictions of this “crime” will ever stand up under judicial review. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all citizens and visitors and even those accused or convicted of a crime by guaranteeing our right to life. It can never be illegal for a person who is in danger–even a gang member in a gang war–to shield themselves from impending bodily harm. No one’s rights are ever violated by the wearing of body armor because, by law, no one in Canada has the right to kill you.
Constitution Act, 1982, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
7. 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.
Taking away the ability for someone to shield themselves from bullets is the same as killing them and is not “in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice” as the death penalty is not legal in Canada.
From an earlier post:
“On the issue of the rights of the accused and the duty of the government and police to uphold our rights:
1.) If a gang member was being shot at, the police have a duty to protect the life of that gang member. It is illegal for anyone to knowingly take actions that contribute to the death of another person.
2.) It would be illegal to take away the helmet of a speeding motorcyclist claiming that the helmet assisted them in exceeding the speed limit. It would be illegal to take away the knee pads of a trespassing skateboarder claiming the knee pads helped the skateboarder break the law.
3.) For a police officer to drop off a suspect in the middle of the dessert is illegal, because they can reasonably assume that that person will be harmed or killed.
Therefor: To take away body armor from a suspect or ex-con that has reason to believe that they may be harmed is also illegal. If someone prevented an individual from wearing body armor, and that individual was killed by a bullet that under normal circumstances would not have killed them if they were to wear body armor, then they could, theoretically, be criminally charged in connection with the death.”
If a known gang member applied for a permit, they’re associates, or enemies identities, should support the “reasonable need” required by the proposed legislation to obtain a permit. So why are we passing a law that we won’t enforce against most people and we can’t enforce against those targeted by the law?
eg. A woman is threatened by her trigger-happy, gun-lovin’ intoxicated ex. The Charter guarantees she has a right to instantly obtain and use body armor without delay, permits, approvals, back-ground checks, criminal record checks, or any other restrictions or the slightest fear of being labeled a criminal, being incarcerated, or fined.
There is a way to give police more tools to fight gangs while protecting our Charter Rights by changing the Criminal Code of Canada to make it a crime to commit a crime, or intend to commit a crime, while wearing body armor, as other jurisdictions have done successfully. The downside (For the BC Liberals) is that this change would be under federal jurisdiction–not provincial–which means no press release or photo op.
This legislation is also not specific enough. What is “body armor”? If a helmet can stop a bullet, is it now illegal for gang members to wear helmets? How does the crown prove intent if the armor is “adapted”? What if a gang member carried around a steel baking pan to hold in front of him in case he is shot at? Will the police show up and arrest him? take it? Who will test items? This is an expensive regulatory mess–think gun registry. How many years of court challenges and millions of taxpayers dollars need to be spent sorting out this terrible legislation so the BC Liberals can implement their election strategy on the public dime? when a judicially sound and effective alternative (changing the Criminal Code) is available? What a waste…
I don’t expect that many people will passionately oppose this law, as most people only become passionate about the things that effect them directly, and the question of the legality of body armor will not effect anyone outside of those at higher risk of being wounded by munitions–which is a few percent of British Columbians. I do however, expect that those blessed with the opportunity to take part in the democratic process to be passionate about holding our politicians accountable.
I hope all of the readers can see this legislation as illegal, completely ineffective, an assault on our most basic human right–the right to life, and a waste of public resources, and I further hope you oppose the re-election all those MLA’s who vote for one of the worst bills in the history of British Columbia out of their ignorance, or blind self-interest.
It is time that our culture wakes up to the reality that fighting, arresting, and punishing criminals isn’t justice. Prevention is the only justice and until we can reduce the demand for drugs we will never stop gangs and gang violence. Unfortunately, prevention–education, community support, and medical support has nothing to do with the police that have hijacked our concept of justice and monopolized the resources of our judicial system.