Suppose you’re planning a trip in a foreign country. And suppose this country has relatively strict gun-control laws. Suppose you decide to bring a handgun with you for benign reasons. And suppose you get asked by that nation’s border agents if you have a handgun. Suppose you lie. What do you think might happen?
Unfortunately for a Utah man, Kraig Jacobson, what happens is you get arrested, thrown in jail and then, once out of jail, must remain in Canada awaiting trial.
“He had been riding all day in the heat, and he was kind of dehydrated and stressed out and said no,” his father, Gordon Jacobson, told the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Faced with a search, Kraig “came to his senses” and told the second officer, but by then, “It was too late,” his father said.
He was arrested and charged initially with a weapons offence, plus smuggling with malicious intent and lying to the border agent, according to the Tribune.
Kraig, who turns 27 on Wednesday, was held in the Niagara Detention Centre for several days before being bailed out and is now staying with Canadian relatives of his neighbours in Alpine, The Associated Press said.
Gordon Jacobson said the gun charge was dropped because authorities determined he did not knowingly violate Canadian gun laws. But the other charges remain and the case is not scheduled for trial until next Jan. 24. Conviction carries the prospect of a four- to-six-month jail term.
Assuming that this article is correct (though there is likely more to the story), this is quite an unfortunate situation. Mr. Jacobson clearly broke the law, and compounded this error by lying to border agents. However, assuming that there was no nefarious intent, I would hope that there would be a way to get Mr. Jacobson home quickly – some sort of deal a fine or little to no jail time (or time served).
Again, though I would love to see Mr. Jacobson’s situation resolved quickly, there are a few issues I have with the way his supporters are dealing with the situation. Mr. Jacobson’s father laments that his son is losing a year of his life for an “honest” mistake. This isn’t really true. Lying doesn’t really count as an honest mistake. It’s a stupid mistake. A really stupid mistake – about as stupid as bringing a gun illegally into Canada.
The web site’s About page reads, ‘Our comrade has been taken captive in a strange land!’ Well, your “comrade” broke the law of that “strange land” (FYI, it’s the exact same land mass), so he really hasn’t been “taken captive” in any normal use of the term. He was arrested. In addition, the Welcome note declares, ‘Kraig Jacobson is trapped in Ontario, Canada!’ Well, yes, trapped in the sense that he’s kind of a criminal and is forced to live in suburban Mississauga while awaiting a fair and open trial.
Further, the web site is selling Set Kraig Free t-shirts (picture above), showing Mr. Jacobson behind bars. Of course, Mr. Jacobson isn’t behind bars. He’s in suburbia (which, admittedly, might be worse).
Now, don’t get me wrong, Mr. Jacobson shouldn’t be punished for the hubris of his followers. He should be given a quick path home, but if you’re goal is to garner sympathy, you shouldn’t act like Mr. Jacobson is some innocent victim, abducted and imprisoned by a tyrannical regime. Maybe, just maybe, a little humility and contrition would be the far better pose to take.
Maybe y’all have heard about the stereotype of the ugly American. It’s unfair, but it will persist as long as Americans keep acting so ugly.
Good luck, Kraig. I hope you find yourself back in Utah really soon.