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The Legality of Self Defence In Canada

Fusaki

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Could an LEO or someone else in the know offer advice on what is a legal and practical form of self-defence in Canada?

I'm asking this because of the current situation my girlfriend is in:

She often works into the early morning in downtown Toronto and has to take public transit across town to get home.  Recently, she's come across a number of people - often drunk or high, but sometimes just crazy - that she's felt unsafe around.  Last night she actually had to get off a bus and call a cab out of fear for her personal safety.

Right now we're being as smart as we can about this:  She calls me when she's leaving work and whenever she's in a situation where she's feeling unsafe.  We live together so I know if she's arriving home on time.

What I'm worried about is the people who are unstable and because of that they wouldn't be dissuaded by seeing her being on the phone with me.  I'm also worried about when she's on the subway and doesn't have cellphone reception.

I understand that given the laws as they are, the concealed carry of firearms, OC Spray, asp batons, etc are not an option.  My girlfriend isn't physically very big and I'm not convinced that she'd be able to defend herself unarmed without a considerable amount of training.  It would be quite easy for an assailant to have a 50lb advantage on her, not to mention the difference in upper body muscle.

So what options does she have?

One option I've been looking at is this:

http://www.hideawayknife.com/main.php

Looks like it would be pretty simple to use without too much training, easy to draw, easy to retain.  As much as I don't like the idea of her slashing some junkie and getting covered in hepatitis, I think this knife is something practical that would give her enough time to take off running.

If she did have to stab someone, and that person suffered serious injury or died, what kind of legal trouble would she have to deal with?  I've been looking at the laws regarding self defence:

http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/C-46/page-2.html#anchorbo-ga:s_3_1-gb:s_34

From here, it seems like she'd be in the clear, provided that she felt her life was in danger and did everything she could to avoid the situation.  But does the fact that she's carrying a weapon cause other laws to apply?

Any help is greatly appreciated!
 

George Wallace

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Whoa!  I am not a LEO, but I would hesitate to give her a weapon.  One:  What if she is disarmed and the weapon turned on her?  Two:  If she cuts someone with HIV, she will be covered in their blood.  Three:  The use of a weapon could land her up in more serious trouble with the LAW in the courts than the criminal.
 

Fusaki

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Thanks, George.

I see those concerns and have noted them in my post above.  I should have been clearer with my question:

If not this, than what is the next best alternative?
 

George Wallace

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Get her one of those Air Horns that come in a can.........I am sure she'd rather face a "Noise Violation" than __________

>:D
 

Stoker

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Unfortunately in Canada if you defend yourself and use too much force which is very easy to do, you have a good chance in getting arrested by the police or being sued by the perp. DO NOT give her a knife or similar weapon that could be turned against her. That being said a rape whistle or something to that effect would help. Check out and get her on a self defense course. I would also talk to a cop and ask. There is a police website called blueline or something to that effect. I believe there is a public forum that you could post your concerns and see what they say.
 

Container

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Wonderbread- she is entitled to use as much force as required to repel her attacker. But she is not entitled to carry a weapon that would give her the ability to do so. Its a sore spot in the law right now, and rightly so. But you are not allowed to carry a weapon for self defence. You can carry a knife- for utility purposes, but not as a weapon.

As an aside- knife fighting is complicated. Its more of an issue of her having it used against her. A self defence class is a good idea. I understand your frustration though. I used to be in a similar situation.

The air horn is really not a bad idea at all. That would be way better than a rape whistle in my personal opinion. Do what you can to increase her "street smarts". No bear spray, no knives, no kubaton key chain. I am fan of Krav Maga lots of "weapon of opportunity" training.

Sorry its not the answer you are looking for.
 

HavokFour

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Unfortunately there are not many weapons of self defense you can legally carry in Canada. My best advice would be to get her a rape alarm, I've seen them sold in many places now, even Home Depot.

 

GAP

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Obviously you guys have explored the ideas of changing hours/jobs/transportation methods.....maybe it's time to give it a rethink.....
 

Fusaki

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Thanks guys, I'll look into those ideas.

As a slight tangent,

Assuming that the situation fit all other criteria for legitimate self defence, what if a warehouse worker were to kill a mugger with a box cutter?  Would the courts be likely to interpret the box cutter as work tool he used to defend himself or the weapon of choice for terrorist hijackers?

Obviously you guys have explored the ideas of changing hours/jobs/transportation methods.....maybe it's time to give it a rethink.....

Heh... I wish.  I'm about as happy with her travelling alone late at night as she is with having to put her graduate degree to use working shitty hours for minimal pay in the service industry.  But the economy being as it is...
 

Container

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As long as the weapon used was present because its usually present for non-weapon reasons and it was required to overcome the person trying to kill the guy in the warehouse, as in he had a reasonable apprehension of death or GBH, than yeah he would be in the clear.

But the mugging wouldnt be enough. He could resist the mugging and then if it escalated and he feared death he could graduate to that level. He could expect to be scrutinized for not just handing over his stuff. As dumb as that sounds.
 

GAP

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one remote option might be to cab part of the way, to get through the worst part....sometimes that's an option...
 

cn

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Wonderbread said:
I understand that given the laws as they are, the concealed carry of firearms, OC Spray, asp batons, etc are not an option.  My girlfriend isn't physically very big and I'm not convinced that she'd be able to defend herself unarmed without a considerable amount of training.  It would be quite easy for an assailant to have a 50lb advantage on her, not to mention the difference in upper body muscle.

I know the stigma with using wikipedia, but for quick reference sake:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OC_spray#North_America

Canada
In Canada all products with a label containing the words pepper spray, mace, etc, or otherwise originally produced for use on humans are classified as a prohibited weapon.[30] Only law enforcement officers and individuals with special government authorization may legally carry or possess pepper spray. Any similar canister with the labels reading "dog spray" and/or "bear spray" is regulated under the Pest Control Products Act - while legal to be carried by anyone, it is against the law if its use causes 'a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person' or harming the environment and carries a penalty up to a fine of $500,000 and jail time of maximum 3 years.[31] Of course, the legality of using spray intended for animal deterrent on a person would be determined in court on a case-by-case basis.

I had similar concerns for my loved ones...

I purchased "Bear-Spray" canisters for my mother, sister and girlfriend and insist that they carry it with them at all times on their keys (it even comes with a leather case with clip, and one of them even came with a whistle). 

You can get them from most camping /surplus stores for under $20.

The person at the camping store I bought them from told me it was fine (as outlined above) because it's primary intended use is not for humans; and that as long as it is used under a reasonable threat, the use can be justified. 

 

Stoker

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Too bad we can't legally CCW in Canada like in the US. Its situations like this when it could come in handy.
 

Fusaki

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cn said:
I purchased "Bear-Spray" canisters for my mother, sister and girlfriend and insist that they carry it with them at all times on their keys (it even comes with a leather case with clip, and one of them even came with a whistle). 

I'm intrigued, but also suspicious.

A quick google of  <using bear spray on a person> reveals an interesting anecdote from yahoo answers:
There is a measuring item called SHU's (Scoville Heat Units) that is used to gauge the intensity of different items/products. It is the reaction of the item to the skin that is being measured here.

A Jalapeno pepper is rated at 7,500 SHU. Def Tech's O.C. Pepper spray is rated at 25,000 SHU. Phase IV O.C. Pepper spray ( which is the bear repellant you are speaking of) is rated at 2,000,000 SHU ( that is two million).

We tested Phase IV about 4 years ago for our department to see if it would be better than the Def Tech at 25,000 SHU. One of our SWAT men volunteered ( he was the guy that walks around with the big red "S" on his chest all day). I gave him a one half second spray on the side of the face only for a simple test. The skin immediately blistered and he had to be taken to the hospital.

Our legal department took about 3.7 nanoseconds to decide that we would NOT replace our present OC pepper with the Phase IV
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081129230617AAtKEvQ

If the above story is true, than using bear spray on a human would be illegal under the pest control act:
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/showdoc/cs/P-9.01/bo-ga:s_68//en#anchorbo-ga:s_68

Also, given containers comments above, I'm not sure my girlfriend would be able to claim in court that she was worried about running into bears in downtown Toronto and just happened to have bear spray in her purse...

I wonder what dog spray has an SHU rating of...
 

Cdnleaf

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I like the horn/whistle idea, easy to use etc. Please do not consider an edge weapon, for reasons mentioned above. You can buy bear spray at MEC and the active ingredient (capsaicin) is the same in police OC Spray (not sure if it produces +/-  Scoville Heat Units (SHUs)). I don't recommend this, not necessarily for the legality aspect in an attack; however unless practiced it's hard to deploy especially when she would be all physiologically jacked-up.  You could make a weak argument that she has it for aggressive dogs in your neighborhood etc. Police Officers are smarter than that. The risk with carrying anything intended as a weapon in self defense is, as mentioned, the real possibility it can be used against her. Time to consider new transportation options, talk with the Transit Security or Police Community Services Div. All the best, Dan.
 

Container

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cn said:
I know the stigma with using wikipedia, but for quick reference sake:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OC_spray#North_America

I had similar concerns for my loved ones...

I purchased "Bear-Spray" canisters for my mother, sister and girlfriend and insist that they carry it with them at all times on their keys (it even comes with a leather case with clip, and one of them even came with a whistle). 

You can get them from most camping /surplus stores for under $20.

The person at the camping store I bought them from told me it was fine (as outlined above) because it's primary intended use is not for humans; and that as long as it is used under a reasonable threat, the use can be justified.

You will get hammered for carrying a weapon if you use that and it turns out you were carrying for self defence against people. Ive charged lots of people for bear spray assaults.

Further to this pepper spray is of limited use against people "jacked up" on street drugs. It would more than likely wind up used on her. Further to this- if she used the spray, which has dye in it, and the guy she uses it on says he's just an aggressive pan handler she could wind up in court having to explain herself.

The airhorn is a good idea. Animal sprays for the transit system is a poor idea..
 

cn

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Wonderbread said:
I'm intrigued, but also suspicious.

A quick google of  <using bear spray on a person> reveals an interesting anecdote from yahoo answers:http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081129230617AAtKEvQ

If the above story is true, than using bear spray on a human would be illegal under the pest control act:
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/showdoc/cs/P-9.01/bo-ga:s_68//en#anchorbo-ga:s_68

Also, given containers comments above, I'm not sure my girlfriend would be able to claim in court that she was worried about running into bears in downtown Toronto and just happened to have bear spray in her purse...

I wonder what dog spray has an SHU rating of...

Sorry, I neglected to mention: the owner of the camping store said if they were questioned about carrying it to say: "There are vicious dogs where I live and I carry it as protection against them."  And in the event that it had to be used on a human, it can be justified by saying it was originally carried for that purpose but was used in a self-defence situation. 

My family also lives and works in the Toronto, which is why I had the same concerns as you.  As much as I love Toronto, and it will always be my home, there are parts that are not the safest and certain levels of precaution are understandable.  Especially for some women who are smaller and would not do well fending off assailants. 

And just thinking of possible worse case scenarios, I'd rather her have an assult charge because she used bear spray on a would-be-attacker, and just hope and pray that the court sees it justified than to have that same situation play out otherwise. 

My  :2c:.
 

Container

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Those sentences arent magic get out of jail cards. You would have to PROVE the reasonable apprehension that their are vicious dogs you are in danger of being bitten by. The camping store guy did you no favors. The court would more then likely unreceptive to this paper thin lie. They see this stuff a lot. I have observed a trend of the courts being really agressive with people that defend themselves or property- almost like its a personal thing. That is just opinion of course but Im shocked by the bad sentences handed out to real criminals, career criminals, and the disproportionate ones handed out to regular people. Could just be me though.

However, I too usually prescribe to "judged by 12 than be carried by 6". But I think there are better ways to manage risk. At least until Canada creates a CCW permit.
 

mariomike

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Wonderbread said:
She often works into the early morning in downtown Toronto and has to take public transit across town to get home.  Recently, she's come across a number of people - often drunk or high, but sometimes just crazy - that she's felt unsafe around.  Last night she actually had to get off a bus and call a cab out of fear for her personal safety.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Wonderbread, I suppose you are familiar with this:
http://www3.ttc.ca/Riding_the_TTC/Safety_and_Security/index.jsp

"Transit Moments"tm ( Unofficial, from Toronto. May have some survival tips ):
http://www.youtube.com/user/ttctae
 

the 48th regulator

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Wonderbread said:
Could an LEO or someone else in the know offer advice on what is a legal and practical form of self-defence in Canada?

I'm asking this because of the current situation my girlfriend is in:

She often works into the early morning in downtown Toronto and has to take public transit across town to get home.  Recently, she's come across a number of people - often drunk or high, but sometimes just crazy - that she's felt unsafe around.  Last night she actually had to get off a bus and call a cab out of fear for her personal safety.

Right now we're being as smart as we can about this:  She calls me when she's leaving work and whenever she's in a situation where she's feeling unsafe.  We live together so I know if she's arriving home on time.

What I'm worried about is the people who are unstable and because of that they wouldn't be dissuaded by seeing her being on the phone with me.  I'm also worried about when she's on the subway and doesn't have cellphone reception.

I understand that given the laws as they are, the concealed carry of firearms, OC Spray, asp batons, etc are not an option.  My girlfriend isn't physically very big and I'm not convinced that she'd be able to defend herself unarmed without a considerable amount of training.  It would be quite easy for an assailant to have a 50lb advantage on her, not to mention the difference in upper body muscle.

So what options does she have?

One option I've been looking at is this:

http://www.hideawayknife.com/main.php

Looks like it would be pretty simple to use without too much training, easy to draw, easy to retain.  As much as I don't like the idea of her slashing some junkie and getting covered in hepatitis, I think this knife is something practical that would give her enough time to take off running.

If she did have to stab someone, and that person suffered serious injury or died, what kind of legal trouble would she have to deal with?  I've been looking at the laws regarding self defence:

http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/C-46/page-2.html#anchorbo-ga:s_3_1-gb:s_34

From here, it seems like she'd be in the clear, provided that she felt her life was in danger and did everything she could to avoid the situation.  But does the fact that she's carrying a weapon cause other laws to apply?

Any help is greatly appreciated!


Brother,

I was born, raised, and live in the most evil parts of Toronto.

Born and raised in Jane and Woolner.  Lived in Markham and Lawrence.....Sherbourne and Gerard. Keele and Finch...Now reside in Malvern..... I only started driving 3 years ago, I took TTC all my life.

Pretty little knives, and knowing the law mean jack.

Invest in a vehicle and get her the hell away from the Public Transit. 

That is my advice.

dileas

tess



 
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