A student at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was taken downtown by police and his college dormitory was evacuated late last week after he posted what appeared to be a so-called assault weapon on social media.
Not too long after being taken into custody, law enforcement found out the student had shared an image of his paintball gun, not an actual firearm, according to Canada's Global News.
The university's security team notified the Halifax Regional Police Department late Friday evening and evacuated the residential hall after noticing the "very recent" picture which seemed to have been taken in a dorm-room setting.
Despite the fact that the student did not actually post a photo of a gun, the police released the following statement warning others against sharing similar pictures:
[Police] would like to remind people not to post pictures of themselves with firearms or guns that appear to be actual firearms. Police have to treat these investigations as if they were firearms which could potentially lead to dangerous situations. It also ties up police resources and could result in various charges for the person posting the pictures.
The student, who lived in the Loyola residence of the campus, was not at the college when police arrived. He was found later at a different location and taken into custody. He has since been released, Halifax's Local Xpress reported.
"He was really good to deal with," Police Sgt. Rob Lowther told the outlet.
"You have to look at the world, it's a dangerous place," he added. "We couldn't tell looking at that picture if it was a real firearm or an artificial one or a toy. It looked real to me. We have to treat everything like that as if it's a real gun."
Gun ownership in Canada is much different from gun ownership in the U.S.
"Even though many of the same notorious guns allowed in the U.S. are available in Canada, it takes a lot longer to buy your first gun," Manisha Krishman, a senior writer for Vice Canada, said in a report published last month.
To purchase a gun in Canada, citizens are required to obtain a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). It took Krishman seven weeks to get hers.
Canada boasts 21 million guns, 2 million registered firearms and an estimated 2 million more that are unregistered, according to Guns.com. However, using the weapons for anything other than target practice is a difficult task.
There is no such thing as Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground for justifiable homicide in the Great North. No guarantee of a right to keep and bear arms. The government basically says gun ownership is for target shooting and hunting only.
To get a PAL, there is extensive background checks, mandatory training, letters of reference. Your spouse has to sign off on it if you are married.
Further, the government is kinda always watching. The only citizens to get a background check everyday are PAL holders, though they point out they are 2/3rd less likely to commit a crime.