Nunavut judge highlights firearm storage in probation sentence

“It is not enough to own a trigger lock. Use of the lock must be habitual and automatic.”

Guns and ammunition should be stored away from vulnerable people, Nunavut Judge Susan Cooper said in a sentencing decision on Jan. 31. (File photo)

By Beth Brown

Nunavut Justice Susan Cooper sent a strong message on firearm safety on Thursday, Jan. 31, when she sentenced a Pond Inlet man convicted of two counts of pointing of a firearm and one count of wrongful gun storage

Brian Omik, 36, will serve 18 months probation for those convictions that follow an incident in July of last year, when he raised a loaded rifle at two police officers who came to his home.

“Firearms are ubiquitous in Nunavut and are very often stored in the porch of the home. This means that they are visible and readily accessible,” Cooper said.

“As such it is of the utmost importance that they be locked and disabled. Children, intoxicated persons, suicidal persons and people with violent tendencies simply cannot have regular access to firearms if the home is to be safe.”

Omik was “highly intoxicated” at the time he used the gun, Cooper said. He was in his family home when his wife reported him to the police for profanity and domestic assault.

He pointed the gun for only a few moments.

“It is not enough to own a trigger lock. Use of the lock must be habitual and automatic,” Cooper said.

The judge acknowledged that Omik did own trigger locks and was known to store his firearms correctly.

“This was a one-time lapse,” she said.

As conditions of his probation, Omik will have to forfeit two rifles seized by police. He is restricted from owning a firearm or ammunition during his probation. He will have to hunt with other people.

He is ordered to take firearm safety training before he can use a firearm, and after he finishes the safety course, Omik won’t be able to use a firearm within municipal limits.

“For a hunter, these are significant consequences,” Cooper said.

Cooper also ordered 40 hours of community service.

Omik’s suspended sentence means he will have a criminal record after the probation period. He did not have a prior criminal record but was granted a dispensation for a past offence.

“He has previously received the benefit of a discharge,” Cooper said.

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