Fiorito: The cops came and took my gun

Toronto Star | January 29, 2010
By Joe Fiorito

A pounding at the door the other morning; my windows rattled. I was upstairs at work. I don't always leave my desk to hear the good news about Jehovah.

The pounder was insistent. I went down, if only for the sake of the windows.

Oh, jeeze, the cops.

Officers Firth and Kozar in attendance. "What's up, boys?" My preference was to talk to them through the plate glass door. They wanted to come inside.

Not a chance.

I stepped onto the porch. Who wants two armed strangers in his house, and anyway it was a nice morning.

Officer K. said, "Are you aware of Project Safe City?" I hate it when a guy answers a question with a question.

"Why do you want to know?"

Officer K. said, "We have reason to believe you have a firearm." Oh, here we go again.

The last time a representative of the city showed up at my door, she had reason to believe I had a cat. How did she know? The lady cat cop peered through the window at my curtains and said, "Cat hair."

I dislike being spied on.

I also dislike armed men at the door. And then Officer K. mispronounced my name and asked if I still worked for this newspaper.

Hmm. He'd clearly done some research on me, and I had none on him, nor was I sure why my place of employment was important.

I asked Officer K. if he'd mind getting to the point. He thought I was being difficult. Not me. I am, however, uncomfortable playing 20 Questions in the morning with armed men on the porch.

The point?

Officer K. reminded me that my firearms licence had expired. He said I could turn the gun over to them for storage, or they could take the gun and destroy it.

My gun? It is a single-barrel .20 gauge shotgun. It is 40 years old. I used to take it into the woods up north to get partridge in the fall.

The last time I used it, I was walking along a hydro cut when I surprised a deer in the long dry grass. She leapt away in slow motion, flanks rippling, nostrils flaring; too beautiful.

I haven't hunted since.

I own no shells.

But it's my gun, dammit. I guess, when the Feds began the long-gun registry, I should have lied and not bothered to register the damn thing.

Officer K. pressed me about turning the gun over, there and then, for storage or destruction. For a brief moment I thought about handing it over, if only to get rid of him and his pal.

And then it just seemed wrong:

A couple of cops show up at my door, unannounced, and the talkative one says he has reason to believe, and I'm supposed to hand over my property just like that?

I hate to write this.

I know who's going to respond and how. Let me be clear: I am not one of those "pry it out of my cold, dead hands" guys. No one in the city but a copper ought to have a handgun. And so on.

But I am a fellow who grew up in Northern Ontario and who was once the scourge of the clay pigeon, feared among the partridges.

I told Officer K. I would not hand my gun over and he could take the next step, whatever that might be, and close the gate on the way out.

Did I think they were aggressive? Yes. Was my response temperate? Not especially.

An hour later Officers F. and K. showed up with their boss, Officer Nicolle. He was as angry as he was pushy and he said he wanted the gun or he'd come back with a search warrant.

I was offered no options.

No one ever said, look, you have to renew your licence; we'll give you two weeks, here's the paperwork you need; and in two weeks, if you don't have the licence we'll have to ask you for the gun.

In the absence of options, faced with a search warrant and outnumbered three to one, I said I'd get the damn shotgun.

Officer N. got in my face then and said, using his outdoor voice, "Don't you bring up any loaded firearms."

As if, copper.

I presume my gun's in storage now. The receipt does not say where or for how long.

Aren't you glad the city's safer?