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OTTAWA PROTEST AND ARRESTS HERALD FEDERAL GUN LAWS

Submitted By Claire Joly
Sherbrooke, Quebec
Jan. 2, 2003

Hello, Yes, this is what the people I am with are trying to do too! Below is an article if you are interested. We're going back for a court appearance and then they will try to get arrested again. Again, thanks very much for your patience. Biggest national newspaper, there we were on front page, picture is our president getting arrested! There were 8 people part of the association in Ottawa + me who was logistical and organizational support there. I was the speaker and organizer for Montreal, there were 6 of 8 these men who came here.

PUBLICATION GLOBE AND MAIL
JAN.02,2003
PAGE: A1 (ILLUS)
BYLINE: JANE TABER AND JILL MAHONEY
CLASS: National News
EDITION: Metro DATELINE: OTTAWA and Edmonton Ottawa protest and arrests herald federal gun laws JANE TABER AND JILL MAHONEY
OTTAWA and EDMONTON

A 70-year-old Korean War veteran was arrested by the RCMP on Parliament Hill yesterday to cries of "Hero!" from about 200 protesters who had gathered to oppose the federal government's new firearms legislation, which came into effect yesterday. Jim Turnbull, who had left his Jarvie, Alta., home on Boxing Day to drive to Ottawa and lead the protest, was later charged with the offence of carrying a weapon to a public meeting. Edward Hudson, a 57-year-old Saskatoon veterinarian, was also charged.

The two were not charged under the new law. They were released from custody and are to appear in court in Ottawa Jan. 30. If convicted they could face fines of up to $2,000 or six months in jail.

They were charged after they passed around a receiver, the basic unit, or frame, that houses the firing and breech mechanisms, but is not designed to fire any ammunition.

Legally the receiver is considered a firearm. Mr. Hudson had concealed it in his jacket and brought it out during the protest, under the watchful eye of the RCMP and Ottawa police.

Mr. Turnbull, who has been an auctioneer and real-estate agent and is now the president of the eight-month-old Canadian Unregistered Firearm Owners Association, organized the 90-minute event to protest against the 1995 Firearms Act, which required gun owners to have their firearms registered by yesterday.

The protesters, mainly middle-aged men from the Ottawa area, taunted police with cries of "Shame!" and accusations that they were no better than "Hitler's SS," as Mr. Turnbull was led away by the RCMP, searched, and then placed in a police cruiser before to be driven off to Ottawa Police headquarters.

The protesters carried placards reading Criminals Fear Armed Homeowners and Protect Our Right to Self-Defence. They cheered when Mr. Turnbull called former justice ministers Allan Rock and Anne McLellan liars.

"We're doing that [protesting] in defiance of a paper law that makes paper criminals out of honest gun-loving and gun-owning citizens," Mr. Turnbull told reporters on the Hill. He says he owns 35 "different varieties" of guns, including handguns, which he shoots for fun.

His shotgun is used to shoot "varmints" on his property and he uses "the big rifle" to take on cougars when he goes into the bush to do photography work.

None of his guns are registered.

The Parliament Hill protest was not the only pro-gun event in the country yesterday. In Edmonton, former Alberta sergeant-at-arms Oscar Lacombe led a few dozen protesters at the legislature. He carried an unregistered and unloaded .22 rifle sealed in plastic. The 74-year-old Metis is a veteran of the Korean War and was a bodyguard to former premier Peter Lougheed. Mr. Lacombe was not charged, but police seized his rifle.

At the rally, a fiery Mr. Lacombe said that if the Firearms Act would make the country any safer, he would have registered his gun.

"We have reached the point where I can hardly recognize my own country, a country so many have fought and bled for," he said to cheers from the crowd.

"I won't register this gun, and I won't hide. I will not submit to this unjust and dangerous law. Free I was born, and even if you put me in jail, free I will remain."

The Ottawa protest not only involved passing around the receiver to other members of the firearms association, who were not arrested, but also burning a copy of the act, Bill C-68, and of firearms licences and registration forms.

Protesters also took a proclamation, detailing why they were against the act -- "We will not tolerate the violation of our liberty" -- to the front doors of Parliament.

Mr. Turnbull had said he was going to do whatever it took to be arrested although he had a "very definite fear of jail.

"I have never been there in my life, but it's time that we stood up and said, 'We're not afraid.' This has made a paper criminal out of me, and that's bad when Canadian citizens are made criminals just because of a piece of paper."

He said the only way to beat the law is not to register. He even claimed that registering guns would make women "a target." He did not explain how.

"Non-compliance will bury it," Mr. Turnbull said. "Men and women, and men especially, in Canada are going to search their pajamas and find out where their balls are and start saying, 'Hey, we're men, and we're going to stand up and we're not afraid.' That's the message I am trying to give today."

Mr. Hudson, the Saskatoon veterinarian, who is originally from Georgia, said the fact that Mr. Turnbull was not charged under the new law proves that the act is "a paper tiger that signifies nothing."

"And it's not worth arresting me today standing here telling you that I own firearms without a licence," he said. "None of them, absolutely none of them are registered. And the RCMP realizes that it does not make the citizens of Canada safer to arrest me and the fact that they are leaving me alone makes the point that I want to make.

"The Firearms Act is a toothless paper tiger, not worth enforcing." Later, Mr. Hudson had to go to the police station to be charged. "We'll be going down to wherever Jim Turnbull has been taken; we'll be going down there and telling police that if he needs to be in jail we need to be in jail because we committed the same crime. If what happens here today was a crime, and I do not see the crime that happened here today," he said. He also said it was ridiculous that the receiver has to be registered.

"There was nothing that piece of metal could hurt."

It was a .303 receiver. The RCMP knew who was going to bring it ot the Hill, they had negotiated a deal with us with and then betrayed it. But because a journalist had tipped me by asking some very strange questions, we managed to outsmart them.

The idea was to get charged under the Firearms Act so that they could challenge it in court afterwards. The government didn't want that of course, so the RCMP arrested Jim Turnbull for possession of a weapon in a public place, an offense not included in the Firearms Act. They almost prevented us to get to Parliament Hill in the first place but we got help from a guardian angel.

Also, other people touched the receiver, and they should have been arrested, but the police ignored them. We all went to the police station to get Jim who was in custody for about 1 hour, 1h30, and there they arrested Ed Hudson in the lobby. We didn't know he was going to be charged before he got there, we were kind of shocked.

They didn't charge the others. We figured it was a way to prevent us protesting anymore in Ottawa (we had 3 days planned) - if we stayed and got publicity, I guess they could have charged the others. I tell you, the police did everything they could to arrest the least people possible and even tried to take the receiver from them so that the least people possible could actually touch it.

PS: Had removed the part where I explain that we then went to Montreal because it was useless to stay in Ottawa where we could not carry on with the demonstrations we had planned because of the arrestations. I then had the idea of going to Montreal, who was just 230 km away. I had 6 hours to organize everything, I even negotiated with police myself. It was a complete media success, every TV and radio station covered us.

Claire


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