One U.S. military veteran recently found out the hard way that Canada does not mess around when it comes to guns.
Louis DiNatale, 46, and his wife were on their way to Vermont when they made a wrong turn. DiNatale says a faulty GPS caused him to take a wrong turn, and before he knew it he was at the New York-Canada border. With no way of turning back, DiNatale and his wife were forced to speak with Canadian customs agents.
DiNatale told an agent that he’d made a wrong turn and didn’t wish to enter Canada. His request to turn around was denied. The agent then asked him if he had any firearms in his car.
“No,” DiNatale replied.
Next, the agent asked if he owned any weapons. DiNatale said he did.
“I told him I was retired military, I had respect for weapons, and I had a concealed carry license to do so," he said in a statement published by the LA Times. "He asked me when was the last time I had a weapon on me. I told him, 'Earlier that week.' He asked me again, 'Why?' I told him it was my right as an American citizen to do so."
But something slipped DiNatale’s mind while he was talking with the agent. Several days earlier, he’d placed his wife’s .380 handgun in his car's center console. The gun was found in a cabin search by the agents. In no time, DiNatale was in handcuffs being interrogated by Canadian officials. He was arrested for attempting to smuggle a loaded handgun into the country and lying about. He served four days in jail before being released on bail.
DiNatale now faces a June trial for the charges. If convicted, he could spend up to three years in prison.
His Canadian attorney Bruce Engel says that although Canada has a zero tolerance policy towards undeclared firearms, he believes agents overreacted in this situation.
“They could have done their homework and looked at his background and seen he's a professional," Engel said. "They could have accepted the word of his wife and released him on his own recognizance.
“They're trying to make a general blanket statement to American citizens: Don't mess with our borders,” he added.
If you need any more proof of just how seriously Canada takes their firearm laws, get this: prosecutors wanted to keep DiNatale imprisoned until his June court date. Engel was able to convince officials otherwise, but DiNatale had to pay $5,000 bail and sign a $5,000 bond before being set free.