American lawyer takes hefty fine after trying to enter Canada with restricted firearms | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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American lawyer takes hefty fine after trying to enter Canada with restricted firearms

Osoyoos is one of three border crossings in B.C. that will allow for Americans to cross on their way to Alaska.
Image Credit: Wikimediacommons
September 14, 2021 - 3:24 PM

A lawyer from Wenatchee, Washington will be paying over $9,000 in tickets for trying to go through the Osoyoos Border Crossing with two undeclared firearms – one of which was a loaded pistol within arm’s reach.

It was 7 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2019 when Shawn Bertram Jensen approached the Canadian border in his Dodge Durango, Crown counsel Sarah Paulson said. He told border agents he was taking an overnight trip to see a friend.

When asked if he has any firearms or weapons, he said no. Officers explained many firearms are prohibited in Canada and Jensen said he was aware as he visits Canada often. When asked if he owns any handguns, he said yes, but that he left them at home.

Officers then decided to search his vehicle. Up until that point, he could have declared his firearms and avoid seizure by turning around.

When an officer checked the rear of the Durango, he didn’t see anything at first, but after lifting up the rubber mat, he found a compartment underneath with a Colt AR15 SP1 rifle inside.

“Colloquially referred to as an AR-15. At the time it was restricted and today it is prohibited in Canada,” Paulson told Judge Greg Koturbash.

Also found were-over capacity magazines which contained 40 rounds each.

Jensen was arrested and read his rights.

Paulson said he was compliant and apologetic with officers. He claimed to have forgotten to check the truck for guns before crossing the border, but mentioned that he remembered to check it for fruits and vegetables.

“He said he hasn’t taken his guns into Canada before, and he’s been coming to Canada since 2007 so he knows what the proper procedures are, and he says he forgot,” Paulson said.

Upon further search of the vehicle, officers discovered a Ruger .22 caliber automatic pistol was in the central console of the vehicle. It was loaded, with five shells in the magazine.

Images of a Ruger .22 caliber automatic pistol and a Colt AR15 SP1.
Images of a Ruger .22 caliber automatic pistol and a Colt AR15 SP1.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Paulson said Jensen admitted to border agents that the guns belonged to him, as did the vehicle, and that he stored them there – but claimed it was a lapse in memory that he chose to go over the border with them. One of his reasons for forgetfulness was that he usually took a different vehicle across the border, and that this was the first time he took the Durango – which the Crown said he was able to verify.

“There is nothing in the fact pattern to allege a basis that the firearms were coming into Canada for the purpose of sales, or violence, or even any evidence it would be used recreationally once here,” Paulson said.

“However the very presence of these restricted, and now prohibited firearms in Canada, loose in a vehicle, loaded and with readily accessible ammunition is highly problematic. The danger for those border guards alone in encountering those firearms in an unsecured and loaded state, having to handle them, at the port of entry right there in the primary lane is a violation of the sanctity of Canadian borders and Canadian law.”

READ MORE: Trucker pays hefty fine for bringing weapons into Canada at Osoyoos border

It was not just a lawful gun owner committing a minor transportation infraction, she said.

Jensen had “ample ammunition… and that loaded handgun was readily accessible to the driver, right there under his elbow in the centre console,” Paulson said. 

“He was remorseful and full of regret at the time, but our sentencing today needs to discourage Americans about being cavalier about gun laws.”

In one instance, Jensen’s status was used as a mitigating factor by the Crown.

“Mr. Jensen was held overnight,” Paulson said. “Charges were approved while he was in custody, so some less than 24 hours total time there. Certainly an uncomfortable night for an otherwise law abiding citizen.”

But in Judge Koturbash’s decision, his career was seen as an aggravating factor.

“… you’ve got a lot of familiarity with firearms and rules about bringing guns into the country and that too is an aggravating factor,” he said.

Judge Koturbash agreed the main purpose of the penalty is to deter gun smuggling from happening in the future.

Jensen was facing eight charges but pleaded guilty to two as part of the joint submission, which Judge Koturbash was satisfied with. He will face two $3,500 fines, plus 30% victim surcharge, for a total of $9,100. He also has to report to the Penticton RCMP detachment today for a mugshot and fingerprints.

Beyond the penalties included in the joint submission, Judge Koturbash added one day of probation to the sentence.

“I appreciate not all Americans read our news. Some don’t know we exist,” he said.

But a stiff fine may not go unnoticed.

“This is one of the ways we can try to achieve getting that message south of the border,” Judge Koturbash said.

READ MORE: Judge declares conditional discharge in border-crossing case

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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