A Canadian man has been charged with multiple weapons violations after he used his revolver to defend himself from firebombers who tried to destroy his home. And it was all caught on camera.
Ian Thomson is a 53-year-old former mobile crane operator from Southwestern Ontario. He's also a devoted student who's using his years after 50 to study environmental geosciences. And he's even a former firearms instructor. But this fall he became a criminal in the eyes of the law.
It all began in late August of last year, when Thomson woke up to the sound of three masked men tossing at least six Molotov cocktails at his house:
[WARNING: Contains graphic language]
In response, Thomson grabbed his Smith & Wesson revolver and ran out of his house in his underwear and "fired his revolver two, maybe three times, we’re not sure," his lawyer, Edward Burlew, told Canada's National Post.
Thomson's security cameras captured the attack. But when he turned the footage over to the local police, Thomson couldn't believe what happened: he was charged with careless use of a firearm, and his collection of seven guns, five pistols, and two rifles was seized, along with his firearms license. More charges were added later, including pointing a firearm and two counts of careless storage of a firearm. Prosecutors are recommending jail time.
“I don’t have enemies,” Thomson told the Post. “I don’t know that many people. I’m a quiet man. I just want to go back to my life and be able to live out my days in relative peace.”
He and his lawyer are baffled by the charges. According to the Post, it is legal to claim self-defense in cases such as this, but Canada does lack the U.S.-style "Castle Doctrine," which allows citizens to defend their property with force.
“If the public are wondering can you run out of your house and [fire a handgun at an intruder], the bottom line is, according to the laws of Canada, no, you can’t,” Constable Nilan Dave of the Niagara Regional Police Service, which charged Mr. Thomson, told the Post. “That’s why the courts are there, to give a person an opportunity to explain their actions.”
Burlew does think the court will side with Thomson and will recognize he was simply defending himself, but he believes the charges, and the process, is ridiculous.
“I’m sure that will be recognized at trial, but why would a citizen, where it’s so obvious that what he was doing was protecting himself during a continued attack, be put to the expense of a trial?" he wondered aloud to the Post "It’s demeaning.”
Even more baffling is that no one was hurt by Thomson's actions and the attackers were eventually caught and charged. Still, Thomson's case is just one example of Canadian citizens being charged after defending their property, the Post says:
Mr. Thomson’s is the latest in a series of high-profile cases in which people have been charged after defending their homes and businesses against criminals. Central Alberta farmer Brian Knight became a local hero after shooting a thief who was trying to steal his ATV. He pleaded guilty to criminal negligence earlier this month. In October, Toronto shopkeeper David Chen was acquitted of forcible confinement charges after he tied up a repeat shoplifter and demanded he stop raiding his grocery store.
Police are still unsure what prompted the attack.
“This is just an absolute nightmare, this whole thing,” Thomson told the Post. “People need to know that this is what can happen to you and which side of the victim line do you want to stand on? Lying down dead or in court? That’s the way it seems it has to go.”