Faulty GPS directions led to a wrong turn that now has a retired U.S. Army veteran facing 3- years in a Canadian prison. Louis DiNatale and his wife were heading to Vermont on a weekend getaway from their home in Louisville, Kentucky. After realizing he’d gone in the wrong direction, DiNatale’s request to cross back into the United States at the Thousand Islands bridge separating upstate New York from the Canadian province of Ontario was denied. The 46- year old former Sargent Major’s car was then searched, where Canadian border agents uncovered a .380 pistol. He was handcuffed, jailed for four days, made bail and has a court date set for June.
In a similar circumstance, ex- Marine Jon Hammar Jr. and a buddy were heading down to Costa Rica to do some surfing. The two had successfully made the 22- hour drive in a Winnebago from their homes in Palmetto Bay, Florida. When stopped at the Mexican border crossing at Brownsville, Texas, the 27- year old Iraqi & Afghan war veteran thought he was fully complying with Mexican law, declared his vintage Sears & Roebuck shotgun, but was promptly arrested by authorities. Under Article 63 of “Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos” (Mexican Law), there is actually a legal way to transport this type of hunting firearm through Mexico. However, Hammar was given bad advice by U.S. officials who only had him fill out a useless form on the American side. Instead of just seizing the shotgun and turning Hammar around at the border, Mexican custom officials arrested the man who then faced 15- years in prison. Thanks to a really good Mexican attorney, Edie Varon-Levy and the support of 68 members of Congress, Jon Hammar Jr. was released after 4- months incarceration under violent and deplorable conditions.
The Hammar and DiNatale cases should be a lesson for most Americans. By “most”, I’m referring to the majority of the U.S. without draconian gun laws. It’s obvious our neighbors to the north and south don’t recognize the same right to legitimate self- protection we enjoy here throughout the majority of this country. Granted, the Canadians have much lower crime rates than those seen south of the border, but I no longer travel there either for vacation, and equally refuse to give tourism dollars to a country with such an insulting attitude towards its guests. My wife is from a small Montana border town and we routinely flew into Canada due to its closer proximity to my in- laws home. When Canadian border services spot a Texas driver’s license, it’s not a question of “do you have any firearms to declare?”, but “where are the guns?“, followed by an extensive search of your vehicle. And I don’t have to explain how violent Mexican border towns have become, despite having some of the strictest gun laws in the world.