Edward Norman Lewis
Mr. E. N. LEWIS (West Huron).
Moved for leave to introduce a Bill (No. 83) respecting offensive weapons and capital offences. He said; The Bill which I desire to introduce is designed to diminish the criminal offences now unfortunately occurring so frequently in Canada. It is of a preventive nature, not of a penal character. The first five clauses refer to weapons which are commonly carried by criminals. The first is designed for the protection of immigrants arriving in this country. As we are all aware, around the terminals of the railways, and the wharfs where steamships land, are a great many pawn shops and shops of second hand dealers where revolvers are exposed for sale: strings upon strings of same in the windows. Now, immigrants who come from southern Europe and who are accustomed to carry stilettos, knives and other implements with which to avenge their fancied wrongs, when they come to this supposed wild western country and find exposed to their view these murderous weapons, they naturally think they require them for their protection, and purchase them.
Sir, poisons are kept under lock and key and sold only by permit. I seek to provide.
under the first section of this Bill, that revolvers and pistols are to be in the same category, so that the one who sells them must have a permit from a judge or police officer. Under present law, persons are prohibited from carrying revolvers; why, then, should these weapons be exhibited for sale? The last clause of the Bill refers to punishment for capital offences. Under the Canadian law, a person found guilty of a capital offence is sentenced by the judge to be taken from the place from which he came, kept there for a certain time-generally, two or three months-and there hanged by the neck until he is dead. Under section 1064 of the Criminal Code, it is provided that the person condemned to death shall be hanged inside the jail in which he is confined on the day of execution. The clause that I propose in this Bill requires that a prisoner sentenced to death shall be immediately removed to the nearest penitentiary where the last penalty shall be inflicted upon him. In this we shall only be following the present law of the state of New York. Capital offenders being hanged or electrocuted at Sing Sing. And as long ago as 44-5 Victoria-that is, 1881-the British parliament passed a law under which a judge sentencing a person to capital punishment, may, if he sees fit, order his removal to the penitentiary or central prison, and this is generally done. Under our present system, where a crime is committed in a small village or town, the condemned remains for two or three months in the local prison awaiting the execution of the sentence. In the meantime, the whole community is stirred up, all the morbid curiosity and mawkish sentimentality of the people is aroused, and the result is that one murder often leads to two, because crimes are epidemic. I have spoken to a great many people of different classes about this clause, people who were interested in the matter, such as officials of the law, as well as citizens in various walks of life, and I have yet to find a single one-excepting one gentleman, a member of this House to whom I spoke this morning-to disagree with my belief that such a clause as I here proposed should be put upon the statute-book. Another point in favour of this proposed measure is that the prisoner will be saved the refinement of cruelty, for, while he may not hear the nails being driven into his coffin, he does hear them being driven into his scaffold when confined in a common jail and frequently he sees the gallows being erected for his excution.