Gunsmith receives conditional sentence

A Tatla Lake gunsmith was given a six-month conditional sentence and a 10-year prohibition for possessing firearms Thursday.

A Tatla Lake gunsmith was given a six-month conditional sentence and a 10-year prohibition for possessing firearms in Williams Lake provincial court Thursday after being charged for gun trafficking almost two years ago.

Gerald Kirby, 65, was arrested on Aug. 23, 2013 following an investigation by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. into the alleged selling of firearms to people without licenses and firearms with overcapacity magazines.

As part of the investigation, two undercover operators registered at Kirby’s Tatla Lake Manor two days before his arrest.

Each operator purchased a firearm without a license and an overcapacity magazine.

After Kirby’s arrest police executed a search warrant, seizing 186 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Before Kirby was sentenced Thursday, Crown Counsel Paolo Konge requested a nine to 12-month custodial sentence, 24 months probation and a 10-year firearm prohibition.

Defence lawyer David Jenkins sought either a conditional discharge or a conditional sentence.

Crown argued as a well-known gunsmith involved with bringing possession and acquisition licensing of firearms programs to his community, Kirby should be held to a high degree of moral culpability.

“It is not a case of an individual who is ignorant of the law,” Konge said. “It is a case of an individual who knows better but chooses not to do better.”

Jenkins, however, told the Tribune Friday that living in Tatla Lake Kirby didn’t have access to resources he would have had elsewhere, but also said he wasn’t making excuses for him.

“It was just a very poor decision by Gerald in circumstances where he was trying to make ends meet,” Jenkins said. “Tatla Lake Manor isn’t the fanciest establishment, but to his credit everyone from 100 miles around went to bat for him because he was so community minded.”

In his 46 years of being a lawyer, Jenkins said the 53 character references Kirby received were as decent, as fine and as good as any he has have ever seen.

“There wasn’t one person who had a bad thing to say to him and every person commented on what a loss it would be to the community if they incarcerated Gerald.”

While the letters spoke highly of Kirby, they also spoke to the clear need of deterrence and denunciation, Konge said during her submission.

“Many of those letters insinuate that what he did not be considered criminal,” Konge said. “But we need to understand that no matter where you live in Canada, including the Chilcotin, the laws with firearms apply and that not following those laws is both criminal and serious.”

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