PRAIRIE JUSTICE: Rifle-Toting Canadian Homeowner Puts New Self-Defense Laws to the Test

djs6312145011_highWhen I read that Saskatoon resident Hugh Lindholm had fired his rifle in the air to warn off a late-night intruder, my first reaction was not “good on ya!”

I have no objection to a 72-year-old man, who lives with his wife on an acreage in my favorite Saskatchewan city, showing a potential home invader what he’s in for if he goes any further.

No, I expected the cops would be showing up to put old Mr. Lindholm in cuffs, followed by charges of unlawfully discharging a firearm.

But I needn’t have worried. I’d forgotten the landscape has changed when it comes the right to armed self-defence in Canada.

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We’re not quite in U.S.-style “stand your ground” territory, or even the so-called “castle doctrine,” which asserts a person’s home is their castle and they’re entitled to defend it. But under Criminal Code changes passed by the Conservative government that took effect this year, it’s now clearer when you can use a gun in some circumstances to protect life and property.

Here’s what happened, according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

Lindholm and his wife, Beverly, were asleep last April 9 when they were awakened by the sound of breaking glass. Lindholm retrieved his rifle from the bedroom closet, loaded it and went to the door while his wife called 911.

A stranger stood on the couple’s deck. He’d just thrown a 40-pound patio brick through a window. Now he was demanding Lindholm’s car keys.

He ignored Lindholm’s orders to get off the property, so the homeowner fired a shot over his head. That apparently didn’t register, so Lindholm fired a second, after which the guy took the hint.

Police arrived minutes later, the StarPhoenix said, and arrested the intruder, 34-year-0ld Jason Barlow. He was drunk and had run his car into the ditch near Lindholm’s acreage.

He apologized after sobering up the next day and this week pleaded guilty to attempted break and enter and obstructing a peace officer. He received two years probation, 200 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $8,500 restitution for damage to Lindholm’s house.

It’s not clear from the news report if the Crown looked into the actions of the rifle-toting homeowner but it’s unlikely.

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