PENTICTON - A Penticton court judge sent a strong message today to U.S. residents entering Canada — leave your guns at home.
American trucker Marion Furman Taylor Jr., 55, handed $7,500 in fines in Penticton court today, Sept. 12, after entering guilty pleas to one count each of falsely reporting import of goods, possession of a loaded, restricted firearm and possession of a unauthorized non-firearm.
“It’s extremely serious in Canada to bring guns into this country,” Judge Meg Shaw said as she passe sentence, disagreeing with defence lawyer Nelson Selamaj’s request for an absolute discharge in the proceedings.
Taylor got into trouble with Canadian border authorities at the Osoyoos border crossing on April 3 for failing to declare a number of weapons in his possession.
He and a partner arrived at the border that day with a tractor trailer full of canoes and kayaks bound for Williams Lake and Smithers.
Taylor and a resident of South Carolina, attracted the attention of border authorities after behaving in a nervous fashion while awaiting secondary inspection at Canadian Customs, Crown prosecutor Ashleigh Baylis said.
Border authorities discovered mace, pepper spray and a switchblade knife in the truck, all prohibited items in Canada.
Further inspection below a bunk in the cab revealed a duffle bag containing a hard plastic case that held a loaded Baretta pistol with an over capacity magazine and a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 calibre revolver with 50 rounds of ammunition.
Taylor cooperated with border authorities following the discovery, describing the location of yet another handgun, which authorities found in a cubby hole above the passenger seat of the truck.
He said he failed to disclose the weapons for fear of losing the load he was carrying, and being fired from his contract for having weapons in the truck.
Taylor said he’d forgotten about the weapons until he saw a sign nearing the border. By then it was too late to turn back, and his decision not to tell authorities of the weapons was based on a panicked reaction. He said he carried the weapons for personal protection in the U.S., having purchased them legally. He never intended to use them to harm anyone, just to scare would-be thieves away.
He said he and his partner had traveled regularly across the border, mostly at the Windsor-Detroit crossing. This was his first time crossing at Osoyoos.
Baylis asked Judge Shaw to consider a fine of $7,500, calling the act of bringing firearms into Canada “a serious offence.”
Defence lawyer Selamaj asked Judge Shaw to consider an absolute discharge for his client, noting Taylor had no intent to smuggle guns illegally into Canada. He said his client, if convicted on any of the charges, would be barred from entering Canada, which would impact his livelihood.
Selamaj said his client cooperated after the guns were discovered, noting the guns were so securely stored it took authorities 25 minutes to find them. He says Taylor also expressed remorse and a determination that it would “never happen again."
Judge Shaw said in rendering her decision, she contemplated a number of pre-conditions that needed to be satisfied in order to grant a conditional discharge, one being the public interest.
"The Canadian attitude towards weapons is very different than in the U.S.,” she said, noting this infraction involved two prohibited and one restricted weapon.
"Such behaviour cannot be condoned through a discharge,” she added.
Taylor has one year to pay his $7,500 fine. He also paid $7,500 to get his truck released from the border authorities, and forfeited his guns, valued at $1,000. He also was given a mandatory firearms restriction when in Canada.
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