Cops Bust Fans With Fake Guns
On Their Way To Canadian Anime Convention

Arrest in progress outside G-Anime in Quebec.

Arrest in progress outside G-Anime in Quebec.

I’d worry if people hadn’t called.

Police arrested two men in camo carrying what turned out to be fake guns after citizens reported seeing the suspicious-looking pair – one wearing a mask – outside the Palais des congrès in Gatineau, QC.

One was carrying an air gun and the other a plastic gun when apprehended. They were on their way to G-Anime 2015, a three day anime and manga convention which began today, January 23.

Gatineau police spokesman Pierre Lanthier tutted, “If you want to attend an event like that, don’t walk on the street dressed like that. Even if it’s fake arms, you might be stopped by a police officer and questioned by a police officer.” Or by a police dog — the canine unit assisted with the arrests.

Police released the men after giving them $270 fines.

The G-Anime staff promptly issued this notice:

Due to recent events, we kindly ask all attendees who are wearing military base cosplays and/or carrying firearms replicas or metal weapons to please change into their cosplays on the convention grounds and to wear such items only on the convention grounds (which is the 3rd floor of the Palais des Congrès).

[Thanks to Taral Wayne for the story.]

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11 thoughts on “Cops Bust Fans With Fake Guns
On Their Way To Canadian Anime Convention

  1. Oh, the /H/u/m/a/n/i/t/y/ Stupidity. Of course: if you’re going to play games that are certain to make some other people/mundanes seriously nervous, play them within the designated Convention Area. AFAICS, the fines were reasonable, and even a bit low. (Mind you, doing some housecleaning, I’m a bit puzzled about what to do with that childhood Red Rider BB-gun, in its box … should it go to the Goodwill, or (rapped in brown paper) to the Southby’s Auction House over on Rodeo Drive, along with my copy of Parkinson’s _Theatrum Botanicum (the 1560 edition)?)

  2. Way back when, at the August Party convention (mostly A STAR TREK gettogether) held on the grounds of the University of Maryland in the summer of 1977, campus security reportedly began to get a few calls about the alarming image of a woman draped in white, carrying a pistol, seen strolling through the evening air…

    It was, of course, one of the very first Princess Leias, any of us had seen at a con.

  3. Cops are a lot more nervous than they used to be. For good reason — now that they earn a good pension on retirement, they want to live to retire. But society in general is a lot more nervous about guns than they used to be. Who would have phoned police because some kids were running around in cowboy hats and six-shooters? Now days, the kids don’t play cowboys as much as they did 50 years ago — among other things, shooting America’s Indigenous Peoples is not politically correct. Cowboys are just not as cool, either. So kids play spies, or Special Forces personal taking out an Al Qaeda combat group. I guess that camies and M-16s don’t telegraph kids at play as effectively as a ten-gallon hat and Roy Roger’s own, chrome plated, pearl handled Colt .45s. In any case, people seem a darn site more likely to phone 9-1-1 these days.

  4. Meanwhile, if this were Arizona or some other Open Carry state, a platoon of NRA supporters could legally parade around an anime con all day, flashing their REAL weapons. Does this sound goofy to anyone?

  5. What most Americans don’t know is that Gatineau is directly across the river from Ottawa. It was on October 22 that an Islamic gunman went on a shooting rampage on Parliament Hill, killing one soldier before being shot dead by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. Those two fans were very fortunate that the constables didn’t open fire on sight.

  6. I remember in L. A. in the early ’80s: Star Trek fans could carry original series phaser pistols without trouble — anyone could see from its design it wasn’t a real weapon, and some hotel staff and cops would be familiar enough with the show to recognize where it came from, and that it wasn’t a threat.

    Fans in original series Battlestar: Galactica Colonial Warrior uniforms would get a double-take because the laser pistols were styled and holstered more like a conventional weapon and the show was less well-known, but on the second look people could see that it couldn’t be a real pistol because of the shape and size, much larger than any real handgun.

    Fans in the dark green and black Imperial Starfleet uniforms from Star Wars, carrying replicas which were designed as altered copies of real weapons (stormtrooper blasters, broom-handled Mausers, etc.) scared people. With the knee-high black leather boots and realistic-looking weapons and those uniforms, people not familiar with the movies actually mistook some fans for neo-Nazis and called cops, enough so that the phrase “jackboot fandom” came into informal use among media-con fans.

    At the first AquaCon in Anaheim, off-duty police working as hotel security started confiscating replicas like the last mentioned, as well as both full-sized swords and small daggers worn with fantasy costumes (double-edged blades were illegal to carry in Anaheim even if shorter than the legal size for a folding pocket knife.) It wasn’t until the committee got Milt Stevens to intercede with the police that the confiscations stopped. Toward the end of the convention I personally tried to get two convention members I didn’t know from open-carrying their realistic appearing replica weapons as they left the hotel for a convenience or liquor store (they said), explaining the police situation and warning them they were subject to arrest off the hotel grounds. When one grinned and drunkenly pointed his replica at me, I turned and walked away, and they left the hotel.

    I never heard if there was trouble with regard to them or not. I had never seen them before and never saw them at any other L. A. convention after that, so they may have been mundanes attending out of curiosity rather than actual fans — or they got arrested, or just went home.

    All of this was separate from the time the last of us were leaving from the end of a Friday night LASFS open house/Hell game, in the small parking area in front of Building 4SJ. A now-deceased, long-time fan who’d been drinking was upset about how he was treated by some club smofs and suddenly reached under his jacket. I flashed on the thought that he was about to pull a pistol from a concealed shoulder holster as he shouted “Am I crazy enough to do this? I am, I am crazy enough to do this!”, then relaxed as I saw from the angle of his arm he was getting something from his shirt pocket, not an underarm holster.

    He pulled out something the size of a cigarette pack, lifted his arm skyward, and fired a flare into the air from his barrel-less flare gun. Another fan — the only one there large enough to do it — damn near threw him into the car, then squealed out of the lot as I jumped on my motorcycle and took off in the other direction.

    (Sometime later, out of curiosity, I asked a desk sergeant at the LAPD Van Nuys station if carrying a concealed flare gun — which couldn’t fire bullets — was legal or not. He said he didn’t know, but if he found one while searching somebody he’d damned well confiscate it immediately and wait for a legal opinion later.)

    On another occasion I took aside a respected pro in the clubhouse — who had a concealed carry license — and quietly told him that I could see the outline of the semi-automatic pistol he was carrying in the back pocket of his jeans, and that he might want to remedy that. He quietly nodded, thanked me as he hadn’t been aware it was visible, then went out to his car where I presume he either left the weapon or at least changed its location on his person.

  7. To expand on Martin’s comment, the 1980 Disclave featured a similar misunderstanding between cops and costumers, capping off a con that had lots of other problems. (Only the 1997 “Waterworld” Disclave fiasco prevents 1980 from claiming the title as “most screwed up Disclave.”)

    We had already had many problems with the hotel management at the Hospitality House — a name so contrary to reality that the attendees promptly rebranded the hotel as the Hostility House. In addition to the hotel hassling the concom and fannish guests, a variety of other misadventures occurred. I recall, for example, one clumsy fan (a high school classmate of mine, in fact) leaning against and then going through a lobby plate glass window.

    But the most memorable — and dangerous — moment occurred on the last day of the convention. Someone in the neighborhood apparently call the Arlington County policy and reported a squad of young men in dark uniforms carrying what appeared to be weapons. They were, of course, just a group of cosplayers (as we call them these days). In the midst of the art auction, a heavily armed SWAT team entered in force, ready to take on the supposed terrorist threat just a few blocks from the Pentagon.

    Art auctioneer Joe Mayhew saved the day. Before some lame-brained comedian in the crowd could lift a plastic blaster or create a similar provocation, Joe talked everyone down, keeping the crowd from doing anything stupid and successfully explaining to the cops that we were just a bunch of sci-fi geeks who liked to dress up. The reason fandom does NOT recall Disclave 1980 for an accidental police shooting is probably the smart, quick, and calm thinking of Joe Mayhew.

    (Joe was frequently a grumpy pain in the ass, but he had more good sense than twenty average fen today. We miss you, Joe.)

  8. I remember that 1980 Disclave, though I wasn’t on the scene when the SWAT team arrived. It was the talk of the con the rest of the weekend, though.

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