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New Act restricts sale and possession of body armour
21
Oct '09
Gang members and organized criminals will no longer be able to hide behind body armour, Solicitor General Kash Heed announced in introducing Canada's first act that sets up a licensing and criminal record check regime for the sale and purchase of body armour.

The Body Armour Control Act is part of Premier Gordon Campbell's seven-point plan to combat gang and gun violence announced in February of this year.

“Police see it all too often,” said Heed. “The gang member or organized criminal is out on our streets and in our neighbourhoods while hiding behind the added protection of bulletproof vests as innocent bystanders remain unprotected and vulnerable. By taking away criminals' sense of security, we decrease the potential for violence in public settings.”

Highlights of the act include:
- Enhancing public safety by placing controls on the possession of body armour and by providing police with the authority to seize body armour from those who are not authorized to possess it.

- Licensing businesses and their employees who sell body armour, under the Security Services Act.

- Requiring body armour applicants to obtain permits that prove a reasonable need for the possession of body armour.

- Requiring applicants to undergo a criminal record check.

- Individuals found in contravention of this act can be fined up to $10,000 and incarcerated for up to six months.

- Businesses found in contravention of this act can be fined up to $100,000 and their officers incarcerated for up to six months.

Businesses and individuals will have six months to comply once the new legislation comes into force. Under the act, police have the ability to seize body armour that is illegally sold or possessed. Workers whose jobs require them to wear body armour will be exempt from having to carry a permit. They include police officers, sheriffs, corrections officers, conservation officers, armoured car guards, security guards, security consultants and private investigators.

The legislation is the first of its kind in Canada. Both the U.S. and Australia have criminal and regulatory measures to restrict body armour ownership. “Police have seen an increase in gangs, guns, drugs, intimidation and violence on our streets, and we need to nip gang activity in the bud,” said Supt. Bill McKinnon, head of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police. “By restricting body armour, police now have another tool in the fight against gangs and gun violence.”

Last February Premier Campbell announced a comprehensive seven point plan to tackle gangs and guns in B.C., including more police officers, more prosecutors, more jails and tougher laws to outlaw body armour and armoured vehicles. Since the strategy was unveiled, 135 organized crime and gang members have been arrested and charged with approximately 350 serious offences.

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

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