Free Kraig Jacobson?

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).

Mr. Jacobson friends and family are trying their darnedest to get Mr. Jacobson out of this lovely country, setting up a web site to raise awareness and funds, as well as a petition.

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.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Move it south a nation. A Mexican national is apprehended in El Paso with a weapon, after having told an ICE agent that he was unarmed. A segment of the body politic in the U.S. would be more than happy to use such an incident as a catalyst to tighten controls on immigration and border security, with the bizarre, xenophobic mania that energizes such a “debate.”

    Canada, more sensibly, treats a border crime like what it is: a crime, involving an individual. The system will figure out what to do with Mr. Jacobson and at some point, someone’s going to realize that the punishment has to fit the crime and he’ll be sent home, given a bill for a fine, and asked to wait a goodly amount of time before returning to Canada, and that’ll be that.

    How do y’all keep such cool heads north of the 49th?, I ask in admiration.

    • How can you compare some foreigner trying to smuggle weapons into the US with an American practicing his 2nd Amendment rights?

      • 2nd Amendment rights? Are you delusional?

        I didn’t realize Canada had a 2nd Amendment. Oh that’s right, that is in the US … news-flash Einstein, US and Canada are different countries. Typical American thinking just because he can do in “good ‘ol Merikka” he thinks he can do anywhere he pleases. You Mike, you enforce that ignorant thought. At that point it’s not being ignorant, it’s being down-right stupid. If you were heading to Yemen (for some strange reason) do you think you can practice your “2nd Amendment Rights” while visiting there? LOL … wait, think before you answer that.

        It IS the same thing as a Mexican trying to sneak weapons/drugs into the US. We do not share your hillbilly attitude that everyone and their dog deserves to carry a loaded weapon so keep your trash out of here.

        Signs are clearly posted for Kraig to have seen, he chose to lie to try and try to get away with it. Guess what? Caught! Now it’s time to pay the piper. Let this be a lesson to all other trigger-happy Americans who think they can practice their “2nd Amendment rights” anywhere in the world. I really can’t believe some of you need to be told that just because you do something at home it doesn’t mean you can in the rest of the world. To me that is absolutely asinine. I’ve been abused by American customs for “thinking too long” before I answered a question … and you think smuggling a gun is “ok”.

        My God, are people born this way or does it happen from being dropped on your head a number of times?

        • Mike is simulating someone who has been dropped on his head for comedic effect. The actual Mike has not, in fact, been dropped on his head.

  2. The problem is simple, too many Americans has been caught bringing their guns over to Canada. There are signs on the road to Canada warning that guns are not allowed. I think that in this case he was too lazy to follow the rules………..or decided to take a chance ……or just plain stupid. If we let him off……what happens the next time somebody else brings a gun over. At what point do we start enforcing the rules of law. I am sure that some people feel sorry for him, I don’t.
    He choose to come to Canada of his own free will. We do welcome any and all Americans to visit us……………..all we ask………….is that they follow the rules of law. I would do the same in the USA.
    By the way if he was a Canadian bringing back a gun, he would have got treated worse by our border guards. So this has nothing to do with him being an American, it has to do with breaking the laws.

    • Two quick things, Mike:

      1) I’m certainly not arguing we should let him off. I just don’t think this is a severely egregious crime (assuming the article is correct), and I would hope there’d be a way to mete out justice before the end of the year.

      2) Regardless what American border agents may or may not do, that doesn’t absolve Canada of treating someone unjustly (which, if we don’t give him a fair chance to cop a plea in a reasonable amount of time, we are).

  3. A few replies for Jonathan:

    1) He cross into another country with a gun.
    2) There were signs on the road, stating that guns are not allowed.
    3) I was using the american border guard as an example of how another nation would have treated him.
    4) Why should the court sytem rearrange it schedule for Kraig?
    5) He lied to the first officer………….only to declare the gun, after being pulled aside for a secondary inspection.
    6) Having a gun in a saddle bag on a bike is not what I would call secure.
    7) A responsible gun owner would not done this.

    • Sure, let’s do this:

      1) Agreed
      2) There probably were
      3) It’s still irrelevant. I’m not sure why you’re worried about it.
      4) I’m not saying re-arrange anything. Assuming the article was correct, and the Crown is unwilling to offer a fair plea that he’ll accept, then that’s wrong. Give him the chance to plea, administer the punishment then get him the fish out of our country.
      5) I’m not sure why you’re re-iterating facts that everyone agrees upon.
      6) Again, so what? He broke the law. He should be punished. If he’s willing to strike a reasonable deal, then the crown should do it.
      7) I’m not sure what the point is.

      • 1) We both agree
        2) What do you mean “There probably were”. The signs were there.
        3) Huh…..I am not worried about it. It is an example of how other areas would have handled it.
        4) What is wrong with his lawyer approaching the crown with a deal that they will accept. Since when do the people who break the laws get to pick the terms????
        5) So you do agreed that he only told the truth after being told to pull aside for a search? He LIED to a border officer the first time, only to be force to tell the truth the second time when he knew that he was not going to get away with this.6) Ok, what is your idea of a fair punishment?
        7) The point is that he is not treating the gun that he carries with respect. It is not a toy.

        • Let’s strip this down a bit:

          2) By “there probably were”, I mean there probably were. I don’t know the route he took, so I probably have no specific knowledge of it. Thus, I can’t have any certainty, but I’m not doubting it.
          4) You’re right. I hope he has a lawyer working on it.
          5) Of course I agree he told the truth only after they said they were going to do a search. That’s part of the original story. I didn’t think anyone ever doubted.
          6) I’m guessing some sort of time served + a fine + getting barred from our lovely country. Maybe a little more jail time, but I don’t think much more is called for (he served a bit, and anything served before being found guilty gets counted as twice as much, I believe). However, I’m willing to be persuaded on that.
          7) Sure, but I’m not sure that weighs too much on his case (in comparison to bringing a weapon illegally and lying about it).

  4. 6) Personally, I have no idea, what is fair, that is why we have the lawyers with the proper knowledge and background figure that one out.

    7) I guess what I am asking………..does he realize the responsiblity involved in gun ownership, …………………I don’t think he does?

    By the way I like to hear from people who have a difference point of view. So thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. This is a tricky situation. I met Kraig once in July and had a very good impression of him, and have some friends who are close to him (I live in Cleveland). I know he was in the midst of taking a cross-country motorcycle trip with his younger brother to (somehow) raise money for charity, and planned to be in Canada for a short time (and by a short time, I mean an hour or so). I don’t know why he lied about having a gun (or forgot to declare it or whatever really happened), and I think it’s unfortunate that he’s forced to wait so long in a foreign country awaiting trial. I think it would be appropriate to slap him with a fine and barring him from entering the country for a period of time rather than making him stay in Canada with nothing to do for a half a year. I doubt he had any malicious intent. I think the same would be appropriate if a Mexican citizen came to America with a gun and without malicious intent. Obviously, you need to make it clear that your gun laws need to be followed, but I think barring someone from entering Canada for a significant period of time would sufficiently make that statement.

    I’m all for gun control, and don’t necessarily condone civilians having guns, just for the record.

    • Hi Jim:

      I read your letter.
      If barring Kraig from Canada would send a message about not bring a gun over the border and other people would take notice, then I would be in favour of letting him go. However many people have brought their guns into Canada and were release and ban from entering Canada. And yet people still try to bring guns over the border, there are signs posted before entering Canada.
      The problem is that some people feel that it is their god given right to do so, and other just feel safer in having one. We all do dumb things that we later wish we never did. He made a really bad decision ………… and got caught.

  6. When you plan to visit a foreign country, you need to go the warning web site of the US state department.

    Americans often think of themselves as special– American exceptionalism”, well.. when it comes to guns, you are special! There are no signs if you board a plane to Japan and believe me, you would be roasted here much worse than in Canada for illegal possession of a handgun.

    Anyway the lying was plain stupid…

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