I told you about Bruce and Donna Montague who let their gun licenses expire in an act of civil disobedience to challenge changes to the Criminal Code from Bill C-68 and now I want to show how media reports led to misconceptions about them.
Bill C-68 required mandatory registration of non-restricted firearms which they felt infringed on their rights. Donna was convicted on one charge and Bruce, a well respected gunsmith, was charged and convicted with 26 paper crimes spending six months in jail followed by probation, had his guns taken and got a lifetime prohibition from firearms. Paying his debt to society with jail time, losing his career and life savings wasn’t enough though. Now the Ontario government is after his home using civil forfeiture laws that allow them to take property based on criminal intent. But Bruce and Donna never did commit crimes with a criminal purpose - theirs was an act of civil disobedience and a peaceful protest.
Misconceptions about the case were mainly due to mainstream media reports. Showing poor judgement, Bruce filed serial numbers off firearms in order to hide them because the Crown ordered the forfeiture of his guns worth over $100,000 dollars but later, feeling guilty, he advised police of their whereabouts showing he had no criminal purpose. He also had some automatic firearms and explosives on his property which sounds suspicious but he was licensed to have both as Derek From of the Canadian Constitution Foundation explains.
He had some military books, survival guides and manuals on how to convert rifles to automatic fire, one of the reasons the police labelled him a “dangerous” man, but Bruce was a licensed gunsmith so insinuating that a person is dangerous for possessing literature related to their profession is absurd. Even the Crown referred to Bruce as a “valuable member of his community.” Some of the accusations in the sentencing report sounded more like the Crown bolstering up charges to make an example out of Bruce.
Lorne Gunter put it best when he said gun owners are treated like second class citizens. Bruce and Donna Montague are no more than paper criminals. They challenged the government and an example is being made of them.
They lost their life savings, Bruce lost his, career, guns and gun license and now, they stand to lose their home.
In this case, the punishment doesn't fit the crime.