Today after taking the kids to school I came home and read this column in the Ottawa Citizen, reprinted from the Edmonton Journal. By the end of the column, my blood was duly boiling. I was outraged on behalf of these people who were victimized by criminals, seemingly abandoned by an ineffective policing system, and then criminalized when they took steps to protect their own homes and businesses. It was like I was a doll with a series of buttons that this piece was expressly designed to push.
So I thought I should take a step back and think about it more carefully.
I was incensed when I read about David Chen, the Toronto shopkeeper who intercepted a shoplifter and, when the thief swore at him and fled, caught and tied him up with the help of two of his employees and held him until the police got there. Mr. Chen ended up charged with assault, kidnapping and forcible confinement. This just seemed stupid to me. The only reason the thief was 'forcibly confined' was because he obviously wouldn't have consented to wait nicely until the police could show up to arrest him. I freely admit that a couple of days ago when I heard on the radio that the charges against Mr. Chen and his employees had been dropped I said "yay", right out loud, through a mouthful of toothpaste.
In the other two cases referred to by Mr. Gunter, there was actual violence -- by shotgun and hatchet. In one of them, one of the burglars died, and the homeowner was given life in prison for homicide. My feelings are less clear for these cases. On the one hand, the burglar that died was trying to climb out a window, so he presented no imminent threat to the homeowner who shot him, and therefore it can't be called self defense. On the other hand, he wouldn't have died if he hadn't been robbing someone's house.
I looked at a few other pieces Mr. Gunter has written, and his tendencies are clearly conservative and against anything that can be deemed appeasement or political correctness. He feels that the justice system has tilted sharply in favour of criminals' rights and away from those of victims. I'm an easy mark for a sentiment like this -- I am a 'good citizen', and I can easily identify with the rage and indignation of people who are repeatedly victimized by criminals and get no satisfaction from the police, until they feel like they have no choice but to take the law into their own hands. I've never robbed anyone or broken in anywhere, so I'm unable to see the criminal's side of it -- how you can be going about your business stealing stuff and suddenly have a bullet in the leg for your trouble (sorry, sorry -- not helpful). I'm not familiar enough with the law to know how much latitude there is in how they are applied. It does seem that there's a difference between shooting someone who has entered your house or business unlawfully and shooting someone just for the hell of it. It must be infuriating when you are told to 'let the police handle it' when it seems that they never do handle it. But it also seems like there might be (oh how I hate this phrase) a slippery slope argument to be made also. Gunter says that criminals have become bolder over the last generation because they know that fewer Canadians have guns. Not only am I a little skeptical of this statement, I also don't want to feel like criminals are less bold only because they think more Canadians have guns.
Anybody want to jump in here? My head is spinning and I haven't even showered yet. I'm about to tackle the Halloween decoration clean-up -- anyone who tries to break in here today is going to get a serious witch's broom over the head.