Out In The Open

Why one Saskatchewan man says farmers need firearms

A co-founder of the Facebook page “Farmers with Firearms” explains the problems he sees with RCMP response time in rural Saskatchewan
This header image appears on the “Farmers with Firearms” Facebook page. (facebook.com/farmerswithfirearms)

This story originally aired on January 8, 2017

Ryan McIntyre farms about 40 minutes from Gerald Stanley's property. He co-founded a Facebook page called "Farmers with Firearms" about a month after Colten Boushie's death. Its "About" section says: "We will protect our belongings and fight if need be! If the RCMP response time is delayed in anyway we will take matters in our own hands!"

McIntyre told Piya that rural property crime has skyrocketed over the past few years and the RCMP has been too busy to take their calls in the past.

"They are terribly understaffed. They can't make it to these places," said McIntyre, "We're not just going to sit back, watch everybody come into our area, take our stuff, and just leave and wave at them as they take off."

McIntyre said farmers have long possessed firearms for good reason. "This is the way we have to live in the country. We got to protect ourselves from whether it's theft, or it's an animal," he said, "We're very well if not better trained than a lot of our law enforcement, unfortunately. We're not going out there and doing a vigilante thing like some people would like to think."

Out in the Open reached out to the RCMP to address McIntyre's concerns. They provided us with the following statement:

"We do not have target response times in rural Saskatchewan. There are simply too many variables around the volume of calls our detachments receive, the level of urgency attached to those calls and the vast distances we have to cover at times. We endeavour to investigate every complaint we receive and to respond in a timely manner. Calls around public and personal safety always take priority. If we are not getting to a complaint of a property crime, we are likely responding to a higher priority call.

It is highly concerning to the RCMP if people are carrying firearms for personal protection. We cannot emphasize strongly enough that people should NOT take police matters into their own hands. We understand how rural property crime can make people feel vulnerable, but confronting or pursuing suspects or suspect vehicles puts people at risk. We ask that people help us do our jobs by securing their personal property and reporting any suspicious activity immediately to the police.

We also encourage rural residents to look into Rural Crime Watch, Agri-Watch or Citizens-on-Patrol programs. These are organized, community-driven initiatives that support police efforts in a safe way and within the boundaries of the law."

Racist comments from Facebook users have appeared on the "Farmers with Firearms" page in the past. McIntyre said when such comments have occurred, he's removed the people who posted them from the page. He said he's removed about 20 people out of nearly 5,000 members.

When asked about Boushie's mother's claim that if Colten wasn't Indigenous he wouldn't have been shot, McIntyre said he doesn't believe it.

"I do know there is racism out there and I get that. But I think it's a lot lower than maybe what the media wants to stir up or what a lot of people think," he said. "If somebody doesn't agree with your point of view, you're automatically labeled a racist and that's not fair. We've gone too far with this. It's too easy to say that and label people now."

McIntyre adds, "In our area, it don't matter what colour you are. There's theft for every ethnic group."