Toronto, Feb 7 (IANS) A 23-year-old Indo-Canadian has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for carrying a loaded “ghost gun” at a mall in the country’s British Columbia province.
Arunjit Singh Virk, who was arrested in March 2021, was also prohibited from possessing any firearm, restricted weapon, or ammunition for 10 years, Ontario-based CTV News reported on Tuesday.
In a pre-sentence report presented to the British Columbia Provincial Court recently, Virk acknowledged the harm he could have caused by bringing a loaded gun into a busy mall.
The court heard that a police officer was patrolling the Metrotown shopping centre in Burnaby when he spotted Virk engaged in a suspected drug deal on March 28, 2021.
When Virk saw the officer, Virk left the mall and got into a taxi but the police quickly intercepted the cab and arrested him.
When police searched his satchel, they found a loaded Polymer 80 model PF940CL semi-automatic handgun, Judge Reginald P Harris said, adding that police could not trace its origins as it was a ghost gun.
Ghost guns are unregulated, do not have a serial number, and untraceable firearms that anyone can buy and build without a background check.
The court was told that Virk, who recently married, was born and raised in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and went through a “traumatic experience” at the age of 15 when his uncle died.
He started using oxycodone, marijuana, and alcohol, after which his parents took him to India for substance abuse treatment, and he completed another recovery program back home in 2022 before quitting drugs again last year.
At the time of his sentencing, Virk — working as an office assistant at the same business where his mother works — admitted that he makes poor decisions when using substances.
In a psychological assessment presented to the court, a doctor diagnosed Virk with an unspecified mood disorder, traits of an antisocial personality disorder, and a polysubstance use disorder.
The doctor did not “conclude or suggest that Virk’s offence was linked to his mental health or drug use” but the latter told him that he “possessed the gun for protection”.
While the maximum penalty for possessing a loaded handgun is 10 years in prison, prosecutors sought a three-year prison term in the case, citing denunciation and deterrence of the weapons offence as the primary sentencing objectives, the CTV News reported.
“Turning to Virk’s moral culpability, and I recognise he has experienced some struggles, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that his mental health or drug use caused or contributed to his offence,” Judge Harris wrote in his sentence.
“It is aggravating that Mr Virk chose to possess a firearm in a highly public area, namely the exterior and interior of a mall,” he added. “It is aggravating that the firearm was loaded and without a serial number.”