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Man fined $5K for bringing loaded gun across U.S.-Canada border

Washington state resident stopped at Pacific Highway crossing in November 2022
A Washington State man has been fined $5,000 for bringing a loaded handgun (not the one shown in photo) across the border into B.C. in November 2022.(Pixabay photo)

A man who attempted to cross the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into Canada with a loaded handgun in his car has been fined $5,000 and given a 10-year weapons prohibition.

A recently published provincial court decision outlines how Washington State resident Zhijian Situ was stopped at Pacific Highway border crossing in South Surrey in November of 2022. Canada Border Service Agency officers found a Beretta 92X semi-automatic pistol in the centre console of Situ’s Mercedes Benz, the decision said, and noted the weapon is restricted in Canada; the magazine with which the gun was loaded is also prohibited in Canada.

“The aggravating factors before me are of significant concern. The very nature of the gun, being a 92X Beretta and the ammunition is unacceptable. Mr. Situ’s lack of licence, authorization and permit in Canada is troubling. The very nature of the prohibited magazine is aggravating,” Judge Kimberley Arthur-Leung wrote in the sentencing decision.

“I find the careless disregard on the part of Mr. Situ to simply take the extra few moments before leaving his home to ensure that the firearm and ammunition were not in the vehicle to be aggravating. He owns and operates a car dealership. He would clearly know the importance of checking a vehicle before embarking on a trip, particularly to cross an international border to ensure your vehicle is checked before departing.”

Situ, a 33-year-old who resides with his parents in Seattle, has a concealed pistol license for the gun in the United States, but does not hold a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence (“PAL”) – which permits an adult in Canada to possess and acquire firearms of the class identified on the licence – the decision said, and added Situ was not authorized to transport or carry a specified restricted firearm, nor did he hold a registration certificate for the Beretta.

Situ told a border security officer that he did not have any firearms or other weapons in the vehicle. When the weapon was found, he first told his interviewers that he did not know how it got there, but eventually, “Mr. Situ voluntarily stated that he put it in the Mercedes and forgot about it,” the decision said.

“The crossing of an international border with a firearm carelessly in the centre console of a vehicle to travel into British Columbia to an urban centre is aggravating. The firearm is prohibited, it was not locked, and there was ammunition in the firearm albeit not in the chamber and it was in an unlocked centre console of his vehicle,” the judge wrote in her decision. “As a responsible adult, such carelessness is not acceptable. Had that vehicle ever been broken into the consequences to those in this community could have been devastating,” she wrote.

“His actions put the safety of our frontline CBSA officers at risk and jeopardized the safety of the community in this country.”

READ ALSO: 30-month jail term for U.S. man caught with firearms at South Surrey border

In her decision, Arthur-Leung referred to the difference between Canadian and U.S. gun laws several times, and emphasized that “there is no place in this country for the entry of prohibited and restricted weapons crossing our borders.”

“While inadvertence and forgetfulness is most obviously not a deliberate action on the part of Mr. Situ, his failure to be a responsible citizen to check a vehicle and make truthful declarations multiple times is very concerning,” she noted.

“Violence and guns continues unabated in this country and it is his responsibility to comply with Canadian law,” Arthur-Leung wrote, noting Situ is someone who had entered the country multiple times and was seeking permanent residency and therefore, had an obligation to understand the law.

Situ’s defence counsel was seeking an absolute discharge (which means a conviction is not entered even though guilt is admitted) and a $5,000 donation from Situ to BC Children’s Hospital and additionally proposed that Situ could do some community work service hours, albeit, only in Washington State, with Situ deciding when and where and providing his own evidence of the volunteer work.

“That was woefully inadequate. It failed to reasonably address the principles of sentencing,” Arthur-Leung wrote in her decision.

“The gun culture in the United States of America is enshrined in the second amendment of the United States Constitution setting out the person’s right to bear arms. There never has been such notion of entitlement in Canada,” she wrote.

“Canada has historically had and continues to have a very different philosophy… travellers entering this wonderful country, regardless if by land, air or sea must know that such guns are not welcome in this country.”

Arthur-Leung found the $5,000 fine (the maximum for the offence) appropriate in the circumstances despite the mitigating factor of a guilty plea from Situ.

The province is seeking the forfeiture of his weapon and he will also have to pay a victim surcharge.

Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’m a lifelong writer, and worked as a journalist in community newspapers for more than a decade, from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey, from 2001-2012
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