Why a Kamloops man with mental health issues lost his firearms, licence | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why a Kamloops man with mental health issues lost his firearms, licence

December 24, 2019 - 7:38 AM

A Kamloops man suffering from depression and possibly suicidal had to dispose of his firearms and had his firearms licence revoked, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has confirmed.

Canadian firearms laws allow firearms inspectors to revoke a licence if the holder has been or is being treated for mental health issues.

That was tested after police were called to investigate the man’s well-being. His wife called police Dec. 9, 2017, to say he told her he did not want to live anymore.

When the officers spoke with the man, they considered him to be depressed but not suicidal.

This incident was brought to the attention of a firearms officer who began a review as to whether or not the man should continue to hold a firearms licence.

Approximately a week after the incident, the firearms officer interviewed the man, who said he was suffering from anxiety and depression. According to the man, three days before the police incident, he had been prescribed medication that caused him to hallucinate and have suicidal thoughts and that he was waiting to see a psychiatrist.

The man also told the firearms officer he was advised by a counsellor to stop taking the medication. The firearms officer was concerned the man stopped taking prescribed medication.

By the end of February 2018, the man agreed to dispose of all his guns and did so. He has had no firearms in his possession since then.

The man consented to have his physician provide medical information to the firearms officer but the physician said he was concerned for his patient’s mental health.

“Do not give him guns. Do not give him any weapons,” the doctor said, adding it was not in anyone’s best interest to allow the man to access firearms at this time.

The physician also responded to a questionnaire by the firearms officer confirming the man had been his patient since 2015 and that he possibly has bipolar disorder and was suffering from depression and anxiety. The physician also stated the man was prescribed antidepressant treatment and if he stopped taking the medication, it would make his depression worse.

He concluded by saying due to safety concerns he felt that his patient was not a suitable candidate for firearms possessions at that time.

In June 2018, the man had his firearms licence revoked by the firearms officer. The firearms officer stated it was still possible for the man to apply for his licence in the future and recommended he allow time to pass so his mental health was no longer a safety concern.

A month later, the man filed an application in provincial court to have the firearms officer’s decision reviewed. His application was based on the concern the firearms officer did not follow up with him or his healthcare provider and had only relied on the Dec. 9, 2017 incident which was caused by a reaction to his medication.

A provincial court judge initially granted him the return of his licence, but the Chief Firearms Officer of British Columbia appealed and won. 

Kamloops Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley said the firearms officer's decision was entirely reasonable under the circumstances and shouldn't have been overturned. 

"The firearms officer was required to base her decision regarding revocation on baseline criteria set out in (The Firearms) Act. One of the factors to consider is whether the licence holder has been treated for a mental illness," he said. "The overriding consideration is for public safety."

For the full court decision go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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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