Looking to arm yourself after rash of break-ins in Milton, Oakville, Ontario? Lawyer says don’t do it

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Published June 3, 2024 at 10:07 am

home invasion halton police oakville milton

A rash of home-invasion style robberies in Oakville and Milton earlier this year had residents across the region scared.

Some even went on social media and expressed their desire to arm themselves in order to protect their homes, families and properties.

And while that might seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment, at least one lawyer doesn’t think so.

“Homeowners arming themselves with guns, even if they’re legal, is a terrible idea,” Alison Craig told insauga.com. “My advice is that anyone who is thinking about doing that should take the money they were going to spend on a gun and invest in a state-of-the-art home security system.”

A case that many home owners who are thinking about arming themselves point to is the 2022 home invasion that saw 22-year-old Ali Mian kill one of four armed intruders who broke into his Milton home.

His lawyer, Toronto’s Jag Virk, said at the time Mian is a registered gun owner who was only defending his mother during a break-in attempt.

“My 22-year-old client, who lives at that home with his single mother, shot at an intruder who broke into his home and attacked his mother. He is a registered firearm owner and used his gun legally against an armed intruder. His intention was not to kill the intruder, he only shot at him once.”

Craig has been a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto for nearly two decades and is founding partner of the firm Poster Craig Stein.

She said a lot of people think our criminal system is like the one they often see portrayed on American TV shows.

“It is much different in Canada. The laws around self-defence, as well as defending others or property, are complicated. It’s far from as simple as ‘I can shoot anyone who comes into my house.’”

Craig explained that an individual can only use as much force as reasonably necessary to negate the threat. And that means if you shoot someone who’s far away from you, or isn’t armed, you’ll almost certainly be charged.

“If someone breaks into my house and I shoot them from the second floor, I’m probably getting charged. And if I shoot someone who’s only demanding my keys, I’m probably getting charged.”

She referred to the case of the Toronto officer who was convicted in the death of Sammy Yatim in 2013.

“It wasn’t the initial volley of shots that got him convicted, it was the second volley, when the threat was no longer present.”

In addition to the potential criminal liability, Craig said the laws in Canada for gun owners are very strict.

Guns must have a secure lock and be stored in a secure gun cabinet, firearm safe or safe room. Ammunition must not be easily accessible and stored in a secure container that cannot be easily opened.

“It’s just not a good idea.”

The question also needs to be asked, is this an over-reaction to a small, but highly-publicized spate of robberies?

According to the Halton police 2023 Annual Report, there were 114 reported robberies across the region in 2023, 38 fewer than 2022, a drop of 25 per cent.

Break and enters, which also include unoccupied homes, rose from 818 in 2002 to 885 in 2003, an increase of 8.2 per cent.

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