US Lawyer Charged with Gun Smuggling at the Border Postpones Trial Again
On October 25, 2019, Washington State lawyer Shawn Bertram Jensen crossed the border into Canada at Osoyoos, B.C. with a loaded Ruger .22 handgun and an unloaded Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with U.S. standard capacity magazines and ammunition in his vehicle.
He was arrested and now faces eight criminal charges, including gun smuggling.
Jensen first sought to delay his trial on November 2, 2020, citing the 14-day self-isolation requirement and the closure of the Canada/U.S. border as his reasons.
Judge Andrew Tam granted the motion and the trial was set to take place in February 2021.
Since the original postponement not much has changed at the border. The 14-day quarantine is still in effect and entering to Canada for a court appearance is still considered essential travel.
Despite those realities, Shawn Jensen’s lawyer sought a second delay.
“My client is an American residing in the U.S. The border closure has been extended to February 21st. He can’t physically be there so we are seeking an adjournment.”
Crown counsel Jennifer Crews was unimpressed with the second request to delay the trial.
“My friend is going to get tired of me saying this,” said Ms. Crews, “but I should point out that Mr. Jensen would be permitted into Canada as court dates are considered essential travel, but he would have to quarantine 14 days prior to the trial. It would be likely today or tomorrow he would have to enter Canada and begin his quarantine.”
Judge Michelle Daneliuk agreed to the second adjournment but hinted there would not be a third.
“Things aren’t likely to be markedly different in April of this year from what they are now, so let’s go without the same adjournment application again next time,” she said.
A Word of Warning for My American Friends
We love our American neighbours and we want you enjoy your time north of the 49th Parallel. Lest you find yourself facing gun smuggling charges I offer this gentle reminder: Canadian gun laws differ greatly from American gun laws.
Please make sure you understand all the Canadian legal requirements for possessing firearms while you are here.
The Canada Border Services Agency strongly recommends you “leave your firearm(s) at home when travelling to Canada and/or transiting through to reach another US destination. Additionally, you must have all necessary permits and ensure your firearm(s) is stored and transported appropriately.”
If you don’t need to bring your guns to Canada, please ensure all firearms, magazines and ammunition is removed from your vehicle before you leave home. Even a single round of ammunition under your seat could land you in hot legal water.
Visiting Canada With Guns
If you are visiting Canada with firearms for 60 days or less, you must fill out a Non-Resident Firearms Declaration form before you arrive at your chosen border crossing.
If you are coming to Canada to hunt or participate in a shooting competition, please ensure you only bring the firearm(s) you intend to use, along with ammunition for it.
When bringing handguns into Canada, please ensure all magazines are limited to ten (10) rounds and the barrel is 106 mms in length, or longer.
If you are visiting Canada for longer than 60 days, you must apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). This licence is valid for five years.
For complete details, please see the RCMP advisory page for Non-Residents Visiting Canada.
Overview of Canadian Gun Laws
This is an extremely brief overview of Canadian firearm laws. For complete details, please visit the RCMP Firearms Portal and the Firearms Act, aka Chapter 39 of the Criminal Code.
Firearm Owner Licencing
In Canada, to legally possess most rifles and shotguns you must have a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
To legally own most handguns and some rifles and shotguns you must also have a valid Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (RPAL).
For complete details, please visit the RCMP Firearm Owner Licensing portal.
In Canada, firearms are classified into one of three categories.
Non-Restricted: most rifles and shotguns
Restricted: most handguns and some rifles and shotguns
Prohibited: all handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less, all handguns chambered in .25 and .32 calibre and some specifically listed rifles and shotguns.
Prohibited Devices include ammunition magazines for rifles capable of holding more than five (5) rounds of ammunition, ammunition magazines for handguns capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds, Tasers and a variety of other items.
Firearm Transport Regulations
Canada’s Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations cover all the requirements for legally storing and transporting firearms in Canada.
In a nutshell, rifles and shotguns must be unloaded. For complete details, please see Transportation of Non-Restricted Firearms.
Handguns must be unloaded, rendered inoperable by means of a secure locking device such as a trigger or cable lock, and stored in an opaque case “not readily opened or broken into.” For complete details, please see Transportation of Restricted Firearms.