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A Defence lawyer's perspective on issues in criminal law

Please be aware that all commentary in my blog is designed to promote discourse on a variety of topics.  Though I certainly do some research on the topics discussed and often offer my "two-cents", please keep in mind that nothing I say in this blog is meant to be taken as authoritative on any subject.  My comments are really just me exercising my freedom of expression for the purpose of offering some insight on topics related to the practice of criminal law. As with all topics of discussion, it is important for you to be critical.  If you need a defence lawyer, please call 403.452.8018 for a free telephone consultation or consult with an experienced Calgary criminal lawyer. Happy reading!  Happy watching!


Arming for the Corona-Zombie Apocalypse: The NRA, the Second Amendment and Advice from Ginger Billy

Posted in FIREARMS OFFENCES, Tagged Criminal Defence Blog

March 28, 2020

corona-zombie apocalypse

This short post is about the right to bear arms vs. the right to buy arms. Also, for any Corona-Zombie preparers who think it is necessary to physically attend their local  gun store for the purpose of loading up on guns and ammo, I have included some YouTube advice from Ginger Billy.  

Remember, you've gotta be quick as Wyatt Earp when you pull out your disinfectant spray.

nra sues california

The National Rifle Association (NRA) in the United States of America filed a lawsuit against California Governor, Gavin Newsom and other officials (including Dr. Sonja Angell, the California Public Health Director) for ordering the closure of gun stores as part of a State-wide initiative to abate the spread of the coronavirus. The NRA argues that gun stores are an “essential business” and that their closure constitutes a violation of second amendment rights. 

"The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus ("COVID-19") outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom…” 

"In fact, the importance of maintaining the ongoing activities of essential businesses for the safety, health, and welfare of Californians makes Plaintiffs' point: the need for enhanced safety during uncertain times is precisely when Plaintiffs and their members must be able to exercise their fundamental rights to keep and bear arms."

So let me get this straight, the NRA and other gun advocates are of the view that gun stores are an “essential business” that must, like grocery stores and pharmacies, remain open in a time of pandemic? In other words, it appears that for gun advocates, the mechanism of the sale of guns and ammunition is so important that it outweighs the risks associated with spreading a potentially life threatening disease.

Just the other day I jested with a colleague that folks in American red-States who somehow think that COVID-19 is a blue-State problem would soon be firing their guns into the sky to kill the invisible viral invaders.  Sadly, it appears that my joke may be closer to a reality.  

Jokes aside, I have a hard time understanding how the Second Amendment protects the right to a particular mode of sale of firearms. 

the second amendment

The second amendment of the United States Constitution reads:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Though I don’t profess to be well-versed in American Constitutional Law, there is no plain reading of the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to buy arms in a specific manner, such as by conglomerating in physical cluster zones to make a purchase. In other words, it seems to me that there is a difference between keeping and bearing arms and the options available for the purpose of obtaining arms to keep and bear. 

In Canada, we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Our Charter does not recognize any right to keep and bear arms. However, even if it did, our Charter recognizes that there are "reasonable limits prescribed by law". I spoke about the notion of a reasonable limit prescribed by law in a post titled: Exercising Freedom Responsibly in a Time of Crisis.

Though it is my opinion -- and indeed that of many Calgary criminal lawyers -- that limiting our Constitutionally protected interests should only occur in the rarest of circumstances and that some of the Constitutional limits presently placed on our freedoms by Courts are nothing more than unacceptable intrusions on civil liberty, I am of the opinion that combatting the spread of an invisible and potentially life threatening disease requires that we all do our part -- this includes gun stores. 

To my mind, a weak argument can be made that many businesses are essential during this pandemic, when they are not.

For example, though there may be some cases where criminal defence lawyers are needed, we don't need non-urgent criminal law services right now.  Though we certainly need doctors to help treat patients impacted by this terrible disease, we don't need plastic surgeons for nose jobs right now.

My point is, there are a lot of businesses whose doors have closed and whose bottom line is in peril, but they are all doing their-part -- many at great personal cost. Accordingly, I have a hard time accepting that local gun stores in California are any different.  

Purchasing guns by physically attending a brick-and-mortar store is neither needed nor advisable while we are in the grips of this crisis. 

advice from ginger billy

Perhaps I am wrong.

If this is so and it is essential for Americans to buy their guns and ammo directly from a local brick-and-mortar store, I commend this social distancing advice from Ginger Billy.  

In other words, if you need to load up for the Corona-Zombie apocalypse, do it safely.


 David Chow

David is a full service criminal defence lawyer in Calgary, Alberta.  If you have been charged in Calgary, Cochrane or anywhere in Alberta, call for a free telephone consultation.



This entry was posted in FIREARMS OFFENCES, tagged Criminal Defence Blog and posted on March 28, 2020

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