Thursday, March 29, 2012

When My Mind Plays With Me

Early this morning, I'm sitting at home, listening to music, editing some of my new photos, when I hear a big thump in the basement. What happens when a girl is home alone, she starts to think about monsters. At first I was just going to willy nilly go downstairs and see what fell then something occurred to me... my firearms are stored downstairs and now the monsters are armed.

Me and my cat minions

Yes, I have my cat minions and they are quite capable. My cats are Anubis, 9kg and all muscle, Phaedrus, 8kg strong and sarcastic (yes, cats can be sarcastic), and Bettie Paige, 2 kg and feisty! I'm just not sure what they can do against monsters armed with my husband's AR15 and a 12 gauge shot gun or two.

Now it took four seconds for my mind to come up with this scenario. The monsters quietly tunnelled up under my house straight into the locked room so they don't need the first set of keys. This is an amazing feat as my basement, like most others is concrete. Being monsters, they get into the safe (that was the thump you see.) They now have my guns. I'm not sure why they need them but they have them. Unfortunately, I heard the thump of the safe cracking so I interrupt their escape armed only with cat minions. Of course this is where all my problems would begin!

The Leader of the Tunnel Monsters

See why firearms laws need to change! If I had a place to store firearms upstairs or could store them a touch differently OR was even allowed to defend myself against basement tunnelling gun stealing monsters with firearms, this wouldn't be a problem. Well, it still might be as the really cool guns would still be downstairs but at least I would have a fighting chance. Next there could be spiders, I mean really big ones, like the one in my sink in Tofino that made me scream so loud that my neighbour thought I was being murdered and did in fact come to my rescue. It had facial expressions and I'm pretty sure if I went at it with a baseball bat it would have taken it from me but I digress.

In all seriousness, gun storage safety is always a top priority in any household and self defence with or without a firearm should be taught, especially to women. I was by no means in danger today but there is always that “what if” in the back of my mind. Being that I'm in Canada, I have some of that female self-defence-kick 'em-and-runaway training. I have a very protective husband so I've never had to use it. He's got this amazing advantage over most people, he just stands there and looks menacingly big! We don't get bothered much, anywhere, ever. It's just too bad I didn't have him here this morning to go face the tunnelling thieving monsters in my basement.

Me and My Husband

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Privacy is not Secrecy

Over the last few months, I've been paying attention to the scrapping of the long gun registry. The one common argument that keeps coming up to keep the long gun registry is violence against women and it's really beginning to annoy me. I have never been victimized by a family member and my husband is good to me, but listening to these victims advocates groups, I'm either lying or it's only a matter of time. Why, when debating the long gun registry, is it only female victims that seem to matter?

My husband and I both have possession and acquisition licenses but I only got mine last year. That means for the years prior, he had some mystical power over me because only he had a firearms license. The guns were still in our house and personally I never feared them - but until I listened to the senate hearing debates, I should have. Someone should have told me.

Victims advocates groups seem to work from the idea that everyone (men) are going to break the law. They are going to hurt women, they will control and abuse us and we need to be afraid. I have never feared my dad or my husband.

These victims advocates groups also work from the idea that the more personal data they have on people before a crime is committed the better. Why is that? If someone is law abiding, why do police need access to any of their personal data? It's bad enough that to get a firearm's license, I have to provide some really private information to the police, but after that, what else do the police need? They get my vital stats, medical information, two personal referrals, it's a little crazy. I understand it's for safety but they also do a background check of their own on me. I have an easier time getting into and out of countries.

I have every respect for anyone who has been victimized. They need help, they need due process, they need protection, however, that shouldn't mean victims rights overrules the rights and privacy of law abiding Canadians. As far as I know, Canada is still called a democracy.

I do believe that criminals need to pay the price for what they have done. Criminal laws need to be directed at them. General laws should not be written to punish the law abiding, but that is what's happening. I can understand that once a crime is committed, that person has forfeited their right to privacy. But if a person has not committed a crime, I believe privacy is very important. Having to forcibly supply personal data to the police is tantamount to warrantless searches. I question again, why is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms even there?

Help victims, punish criminals, protect the law abiding and as long as the government can keep that in mind we'll all be happier. Victims rights are important, the rights of the law abiding are just as important and privacy does not mean secrecy.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stop Warrantless Searches

When did this idea of warrantless searches in Canada become okay?  When did they start?  How can we make them stop?  How can we make sure every Canadian know this is happening and that they can be the next victim of a warrantless search of some kind?  I have not personally been a victim of a warrantless search, nor do I wish to be.  What concerns me is, it seems only to be a matter of time.

It's been known for a long time that licensed law abiding gun owners were not subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have very little recourse but have been fighting this all along. Finally, a step in the right direction has happened with the scrapping of the long gun registry, although laws regarding licensed gun owners still need to change.  The firearms act as a whole must be changed so that licensed gun owners once again fall within the Charter.  Below is a site I found that explains how the Firearms Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At any given time, for almost any reason, a licensed gun owner must submit to a search of their home if an authority deems it necessary.  “Necessary” can be a neighbour saw the gun owner in their car with a black case, maybe even a gun case and makes a call to authorities.  During that call, the neighbour says they feel unsafe.  Authorities are allowed to enter the home according to the firearms act and there isn’t a thing that gun owners can do about it.  Odds are fairly high the case was empty anyway, but it doesn’t matter.  The best that’s happening is, parts of the act are being tested in court because of violation of gun owners rights.

Now, it appears it's not just licensed gun owners that fall outside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution.  The imagination of a small child is cause for a warrantless search of a home, presumption of guilt until proven innocent, a family separated, and children interviewed without parental supervision.  The picture the child drew is now gone so whether it ever existed is now based on the word and imagination of the teacher that saw it and listened to the child’s little story in the first place.

Why is this okay?  Where was the danger, or perception of danger?  How is “my daddy shoots bad guys and monsters” a danger to any child and why were the parents not spoken to about it before it ever escalated to this level?  Occam’s Razor would indicate that TV or video games would be the answer.  How did this go from a white board drawing of a four year old to “the parents MUST be allowing the children to play with a real gun?”  Common sense would dictate that with so many levels of authority, the teacher, the principal, the police AND child services, SOMEONE would consider another explanation would be more feasible.  Instead they went straight to violating the parents rights, traumatizing the children, and overstepping their authority.  The best part is, they would do it again.  Maybe if they had to go to court and stand before a judge to secure a warrant for the search and separation of the children from the parents, this situation wouldn’t have been so blown out of proportion.

The SPCA can go onto private property under the auspice of investigating animal safety.  The problem here is, the people doing the investigation may not have experience with the animals they are investigating up close.  They then make a judgement and decide on fines based on visual assessments of the situation - as various Amish farms found out in Ontario.  Again, these are warrantless searches, no one went to court, due process not sought.  Those not directly affected by this allow it to happen.  Charges are then laid such as “Animal in Distress” when the animals are perfectly healthy.  I believe animals do need to be protected from cruelty but the people doing the investigations shouldn’t be permitted on private property without purpose.  Yes, stop puppy mills, no, don’t interfere with a farm with perfectly healthy animals because it doesn’t meet with your idealistic view of what a healthy animal looks like.  Again, if these people need to stand before a judge for a warrant and state that they believe there are animals in distress on a specific farm, actual proof may have to be provided for charges to be valid.  But pesky things like due process get in the way of moral self importance, I suppose.

In British Columbia, warrantless searches happen based on power consumption in the home. If personal power consumption is too high, police officers and BC Hydro employees show up and demand entrance to the residence within 48 hours of initial notice.  This happens because the home that uses “too much” energy is a possible marijuana grow operation, and for no other reason.  The fact that it could be an old drafty home, or it’s large, or it runs a legal business notwithstanding.  When I lived in BC, I had an outdoor hot tub, and let me tell you, that was not cheap to run.  That could account for high power usage in a lot of cases, one would think.  Again, if it were an actual grow op, go get a warrant.  But it must be more fun and interesting for authorities to embarrass people by arbitrarily accusing them of being drug dealers.

Now, there is this thing called the Lawful Access bill. I know it's gone to committee but it's scary.  When it was first presented to the public, it was presented as “you’re either for Bill C-30, or you’re with the child pornographers.”  It is quite the statement, very black and white.  It is really too bad the world doesn’t work like that. This bill, if brought into law is another one of those ways the government will be able to access our information and lives without a warrant. It is being put forth with the argument “well, other countries are doing it.” Why does that give my government the right to invade my privacy without due process?  I have NO problem protecting children, and want them protected.  Will this bill in fact protect children the same way the gun registry didn't prevent gun crimes though?  So far, there has been nothing said about why this bill is needed except that it’s needed.  It’s like saying I’m right because I’m right.

Like most, my family has been heavily affected by the past.  My dad escaped from East Germany as a young man and moved to Canada for it's freedoms; my mom was in a Residential School.  Yay me, I got it from both sides!  It seemed for a time Canada was getting better. Residential Schools have been eliminated and as an escape from a dictatorship, what better place was there to go?

Now however, Canada is seeming like a scary place to live.  The government is trying to raise our children, tell us what morals to live by, and convince us that contravening the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the right thing to do, it’s for the good of all Canadians you know.  I’ve seen people say “that law is fine, what do I have to hide.”  Privacy is not secrecy and the desire for due process is not wrong.  Why are the current government officials creating law and methods to circumvent due process, and why are so many Canadians okay with it?

To me, only those who do not wish to think for themselves would want the destruction of freedom.  I, on the other hand, wish to maintain my privacy, wish to maintain my rights and freedoms, and wish to live in a democracy.  I don’t like how Canada is changing.  I don’t like that I’m afraid to have a child because a mis-speak could land myself or my husband in jail.  I don’t like that warrantless searches have become okay among so many people.  Why do we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  It certainly looks good on paper.

This all looks so familiar, I’m sure this has happened somewhere before.  If it has, if history has taught has anything, why are we letting it happen again?