Do citizens have the right to defend their families and homes with force?
Most American conservatives would likely say “yes,” with some caveats, of course. Canada, however, seems to disagree — and a case in Alberta has many lessons for self-defense advocates in both countries.
According to CTV News, a farmer from a rural area near Calgary fired a shotgun at intruders who were prowling on his property in February. It worked: The suspects fled, and one was later found with a non-life-threatening shotgun injury to his arm.
But it’s the landowner — Edouard Maurice — who ended up being arrested on assault charges.
Government officials want to make an example out of the farmer, but when he arrived at court Friday, he was faced with something neither he nor prosecutors likely expected: a crowd of residents who came to support the landowner and his right to protect his family.
“On Friday, dozens of his supporters, who are rural landowners themselves, gathered outside the Okotoks courthouse, promoting the message that Maurice has the right to defend his land,” reported CTV.
“Why do the criminals have all the rights? It doesn’t seem fair to me,” explained one supporter. “They’re telling us that if we live in the country that we should get gates and lock them. We become prisoners on our own land because of criminals.”
Video from outside the courthouse showed Maurice, carrying what appeared to be his young daughter, shaking hands and thanking a throng of people who lined the sidewalk.
“We deserve the right to protect our property and our families and I’m here to support that,” stated Zena Branson, one of many who came out to voice their support.
“Nothing is happening to them,” she elaborated, referring to criminals. “The property owners are paying all the consequences; the thieves, nothing.”
Maurice was in court for a pretrial hearing. When asked about a possible plea bargain for the farmer, his attorney told CTV that they would rather face a judge and jury, and let the people decide.
There are many takeaways from the case. Perhaps the biggest is that knowledge of self-defense law is vitally important for gun owners.
In an increasingly litigious time, Americans — and Canadians, for that matter — must know what the law in their area says about the use of force. There are many misconceptions and myths about defense law, and the time to become educated is before a self defense situation arises.
We cannot comment on Canadian law, but many states in the U.S. stipulate that there must be an imminent threat of bodily harm or death for a firearm to be used in self defense. Though Maurice may have been morally right to defend his property from prowlers, the jury is still out — if you’ll pardon the expression — on whether he was legally justified.
The other major takeaway from this case is how incredibly out of touch the government often is with the actual citizens. It looks very likely that the majority of residents at this location side with the farmer, and believe that it was the intruders, not the homeowner, who should be in court.
Despite this, authorities are still moving forward with prosecution. It’s frustrating but true that sweeping laws don’t always reflect the values and views of the entire nation — which is why local control and a decentralized, small government is so important.
Perhaps there was a reason America’s Founding Fathers set up our structure that way all along.
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