I was in Canada the first time someone pointed a gun at me.
A buddy and I wanted to go to the Stratford Festival and watch some Shakespeare plays performed live. (Yes, I’m a fan of The Immortal Bard.) We were right out of high school, members of the SCA, and hopeless geeks. The plan was to wear period costumes to the play in order to fully experience the whole Shakespeare thing, including harmless prop rapiers.
The unarmed Canadian border guards had us pull over and looked the weaponry over. Didn’t matter that a butter knife was more dangerous, we weren’t allowed in the country. Of course, it didn’t help that we were two scruffy teens in a beat up old Plymouth Duster. They all walked back in the customs house while we packed the gear back in the trunk.
That car was the cause behind my first glimpse of the business end of a revolver. The only way to start the Duster was to short the solenoid with some screwdrivers, and the only way the hood would stay up was if you propped it open with a hatchet we used to chop firewood. The border guards saw me walking towards the front of the car with some shiny pointy things in one fist and a little bitty axe in the other. By the time I got the car started a Mountie had shown up with a drawn .38 revolver.
We got that straightened out and headed for the good ol’ US of A. Except we were waved over by the US guards and they all had some pretty serious hardware in their hands, stuff that made a .38 look like a sick joke. Everyone had a .45 or a 9mm handgun, a few of them had 12 gauge shotguns, one guy had an AR-15. And it was all for us.
Seems the Canadians had called their American counterparts and given them a heads up about some punks who they had caught trying to smuggle arms. When our guys couldn’t find anything that someone from the Land of the 2nd Amendment would think of as dangerous, they decided to call the Canadians back and ask if by “weapons” they really meant “fake swords”.
My buddy and I were anxious to get on the road and just put the whole sorry experience in our rear view mirror. Instead we were stuck there for two hours while the US border guards chased each other around the back parking lot, hacking and slashing at each other with our gear while giggling like schoolgirls. Even so, we were happy to be over here instead of still over there.
We’re taking a little walk down Memory Lane because of this news article. A couple of murder suspects tried to make it across the US/Canadian border at Seattle. They were pretty determined to get there, and law enforcement officers on this side were equally determined to have them stay for a bit.
The drama included a high speed chase that reached speeds of 100 MPH (160 KPH for our Canadian readers), gunplay, a wounded suspect, and a foot chase at the end. The final tally was two suspects who will have their day in court, and none of the good guys were hurt. I’d say that it’s a win all around.
The thing that blew my mind, though, was how some of the Canadian border guards abandoned their posts when they noticed the ruckus. According to the article, any Canadian is allowed to just run away if they think things are getting dangerous.
“A few officers exercised their right to refuse to work because of what they perceived as imminent danger,” Shore said in a telephone interview. Under the Canada labor code, “any worker has the right to refuse to work if they feel they are in imminent danger.”
It is a good thing that the Canadian government took swift action to contain the crises. They sent some people from Human Resources around to make sure that the danger had passed.
It’s no surprise that some punks who were wanted for a murder committed on Saturday would try to cross into Canada. The only shocker is that it took them until Tuesday to make the attempt.
It seems that managers took over for the absent border guards, and I have no idea if those guys are armed while the peons remain helpless. Another mystery is why they didn’t have a Mountie around like they did when my buddy and I tried to enter the country with lace collars, pointy shoes and tights. (Maybe one was around and they just didn’t mention them in the article.) But there is one thing that I’m absolutely sure of.
Those Canadians are lucky that we expect our border guards to stand their ground.
It seems that the incoming Conservatives have promised to actually give the Canadian border guards some guns. (Hmmm. Can I get a job up there and give those guys some training?)
There are two aspects to having unarmed border guards that just seems insane to me. The first is that they are law enforcement officers. If they can’t apply a monopoly of force then what the heck are they doing there in the first place?
Secondly, the media in the Great White North likes to claim that the USA is just terribly destructive. The Liberals tried to garner support by saying that the recent rise in gun crime in Canada was due to our “culture of violence” creeping across the border. Why in the world would they ensure that their first line of defence is totally helpless?