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Border services’ gun smuggling busts ‘showcasing’: criminologist

Smuggling charges, hidden handguns more of a warning to gun-toting U.S. tourists, not crime-related says SFU prof.

Canada Border Services Agency officers at the Abbotsford-Huntingdon border crossing seized a 9mm restricted pistol and prohibited magazines from Kiho Kang on May 24, 2016. The Washington resident was later convicted of smuggling.

Courtesy: CBSA

Canada Border Services Agency officers at the Abbotsford-Huntingdon border crossing seized a 9mm restricted pistol and prohibited magazines from Kiho Kang on May 24, 2016. The Washington resident was later convicted of smuggling.

If you feel safer from gun violence thanks to news that border agents have been catching U.S. handguns at the border recently, you’re likely mistaken.

The Canada Border Services Agency announced on Tuesday that two travellers busted with guns at the Abbotsford border crossing were convicted of smuggling, and on Monday the agency announced it had caught a woman in Prince Rupert who had hidden parts of a handgun throughout her car while driving from Alaska.

“Canadian firearms laws are clear,” CBSA said in a press release. “Anyone importing firearms and weapons into Canada must declare them and meet all licensing and registration requirements under the Firearms Act.

“Failure to declare firearms and weapons may lead to prosecution in a court of law.”

California resident Rodrick Hines, 32, was arrested on May 4 with a .40-calibre pistol and two large-capacity magazines under his car’s dash, and pleaded guilty to smuggling. Several weeks later, Washington resident Kiho Kang, 48, was caught with a 9mm restricted handgun and five large-capacity magazines in his trunk; he also pleaded guilty to smuggling.

The agency revealed that already this year, guards at the Abbotsford-Huntingdon crossing had seized 32 guns from travellers.

A third case last month saw a U.S. woman driving the Alaska highway busted for hiding a 0.380 handgun frame in her car’s engine air filter — leading guards to discovering the rest of the gun parts hidden throughout her car.

Although gun violence in the Lower Mainland has led to furor amongst residents after several fatal shootings this year — and mounting concern about rampant mass shootings south of the border — one Simon Fraser University criminology professor said the two issues are entirely unrelated and should not be confused.

“It’s showcasing, to deter people coming north with their hobby firearms,” he told Metro. “CBSA are really demonstrating that they’re on the job.

“That’s fine, but I don’t think any of these people being rounded up and having their firearms confiscated are the kinds of people who would be involved with any organized criminal activity.”

He said in all likelihood, “these are careless Americans who are used to being able to carry firearms in their home jurisdictions,” he added, “and who simply wandered into Canada without thinking of what they’re doing … careless travelers being picked up by alert CBSA personnel.”

As for shooting incidents here in B.C., often between rival gangs, he said, and those guns are generally in Canada already but hidden away in stockpiles until needed again, Gordon said. When they are smuggled across the border, he added, it’s in large numbers — sometimes hidden inside hollowed out lumber — and not one-by-one with travellers.

“The importation illegally of firearms certainly does occur, but when it does it’s lots,” he said. “We have to have an eye for the source of the weapons.

“The Americans are barely able to control the source of the weapons in their own jurisdictions. There’s not an awful lot that can be done so long as we’re neighbouring one of the world’s largest arsenals.”

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