Dryden OPP announced last week that as part of an ongoing investigation, local gunsmith Bruce Montague has been charged with further offences relating to unlawful possession of firearms and explosives.
Montague, age 45, was initially charged with six criminal offences following the execution of a search warrant at his residence on Sept. 11 and 12. He now faces 23 additional criminal charges related to the investigation.
These charges include: six counts of possessing weapons dangerous to the public peace; two counts of possessing firearms with the serial numbers removed or altered; possession of a prohibited weapon (cross-bow); two counts of possession of prohibited devices (over-capacity magazines); failure to use reasonable care re explosive; unlawful possession of an explosive; two counts of possessing prohibited firearms (sawed off shotguns) with ammunition readily available; six counts of careless storage of firearms; possession of a firearm for the purpose of trafficking; unlawful possession of firearms.
According to a press release, police discovered a concealed entrance that led to a hidden room off the basement during a second search of the property on Sept. 20 and 21.
Inside the hidden room police discovered in excess of 100 firearms, and more than 25,000 rounds of various ammunition. They also found explosive materials and prohibited weapons and devices (over capacity magazines and silencers).
The firearms seized included a loaded .223 semi-automatic assault type rifle with a silencer and barrel mounted laser sight; a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun with silencer; a loaded 9 mm handgun in a shoulder holster; an Uzi pistol submachine gun; a Sten sub-machine gun; a 9 mm. sub-machine gun that had the serial number removed; two sawed off shotguns and six other loaded firearms (restricted and non-restricted). The explosive related material seized included detonator cord, electrical and non-electrical detonators and several manuals on making homemade explosives. Police also seized a cross bow that is designed and capable of being fired by one hand, which is a prohibited weapon pursuant to the Criminal Code.
Montague, a Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owner (CUFOA) member and gun collector, openly refused to register his firearms in an effort to fight the effects of Bill C-68. While he can't comment on any of the charges against him, he says he looks forward to the truth coming out in court.
Montague's lawyer Ed Burlew says it would be premature to comment on the charges at this time as police have not yet provided disclosure of the evidence that the charges are based on.
" Mr. Montague maintains his innocence and will maintain his objection to the charges based on his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," says Burlew. "I note that none of the charges contain an act of violence. These charges seem to be violations of regulations involving licensing and registration. I emphasize that no person has been harmed by Mr. Montague. The charges are technical in nature and will be met with Charter of Rights arguments."
The lawyer adds that the wide variety of charges will allow for full argument of the Charter of Rights violations contained in the Firearms Act, Bill C-68.
" The process of being arrested and facing criminal charges is the first step in the long journey through the courts," he notes. "The first step is for the police to lay charges, followed by full disclosure of the evidence. This will then be tested at a preliminary hearing and later at a trial court before a judge and jury. I am certain that there will be appeals to the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the goal is to take the Charter of Freedom arguments all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Upon review of many of the charges that have been laid against Mr. Montague, there is opportunity to bring forth challenges to quash sections of the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act for the benefit of many law abiding Canadians who do not agree with the Firearms Act."
Burlew added that the new charges should not be viewed negatively by supporters of Montague's cause, because they will provide a positive opportunity to fully challenge the Firearms Act in the context of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Montague appears in Provincial Court in Dryden on Nov. 15.
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