Opinion

Gang shooting an echo of 2009

One of the three Bacon brothers was killed in broad daylight in downtown Kelowna on Sunday afternoon. Jonathan Bacon, 30, was in a Porsche SUV when gunmen opened fire and killed him, injuring several other people.

The brazen shooting has shocked people who were in the area at the time. It echoes the February, 2009 shooting in Walnut Grove, when  Bacon’s friend and associate, Kevin Leclair, was killed.

LeClair was shot in the parking lot at Thunderbird Village shopping centre by assassins who apparently had been following him. He died in hospital two days later.

As in the Kelowna case, those doing the shooting had no concerns about innocent people who were in the vicinity. In Kelowna, the shooting took place outside a casino and resort hotel on the waterfront. There were many people in the area. One commenter on the Kelowna Capital News (our sister newspaper’s) web site, stated that she was in a nearby art gallery for a children’s event when bullets came through the window.

After the LeClair shooting, and several similar but less dramatic events, a number of people in Langley were fearful about going about their day-to-day business. While their fears were groundless, they are very understandable. How can anyone be sure they will not come across a shootout, when gangs are picking off members of rival gangs on the street?

The gangland warfare over the booming drug trade in parts of B.C. shows no signs of ending. There is a great deal of money at stake and gang members know that there is little chance that their business will be meaningfully affected by law enforcement activity.

The real threat to their business comes from rival gangs, and that’s why they are armed. However, as the Kelowna and Langley cases prove, it is impossible to completely protect yourself from assassination.

There are some lessons in these sad stories, for those who wish to pay attention.

For starters, getting involved with an organization that buys and sells drugs for profit is a very bad idea, and is almost certain to dramatically shorten your lifespan.

Yes, there may be some short-term glamour that goes with the drug trade, but it is very fleeting.

Another lesson is for policy makers to consider.  While it is very difficult to even consider legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, due to Canada’s ties with the U.S. and the U.S. war on drugs, MPs need to consider all the facts around marijuana. It is legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Even in the U.S., medicinal use of marijuana is widespread.

The example of liquor prohibition in the late years of the First World War, and into the 1920s and 1930s, is very instructive. The lengthy period of prohibition in the U.S. gave rise to many gangs, most notably members of the Mafia. They made so much money from selling illegal booze that it established them in many other businesses. Their influence remains strong today.

If marijuana was available through government stores for personal use and taxed, gangs would have one less profit stream.

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