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Michaels: Cut the Mounties some slack, they're stuck dealing with a city in puberty

Let this be a clear message to all: Public displays of toy-gun loving are not only socially awkward, they could put you in line for a Mountie smiting.

For those who missed the police bulletins on the matter, there is a war on toys in this city.

It started when a carload of teenage boys taking part in an antiquated grad tradition drove around a Kelowna neighbourhood wearing masks and brandishing fake firearms. Someone must have been put-off by the realistic look, so they called the coppers.

In short order, they swooped in and dealt with the issue. Children were frightened, feathers were ruffled, but there were no casualties.

Police held a press conference

about the dangers of fake guns the next day, and then, wham-o—fake guns fired again.

Just hours later an adult wielding a toy in the Same-Sun hostel parking lot prompted police action and a notice to not play with toy guns was issued.

On the surface it was all a bit ridiculous. As one of my co-workers pointed out: What’s going to happen this summer when the water-pistols are brought out? Will we be forced to deal with the thunderous roar of anti-toy sentiment, from our local Mounties again?

(Inject sound of uproarious condescending laughter.)

Strangely, I couldn’t muster the chuckles and I live to be snide. To me, these events are symptoms with an awkward developmental stage, best paralleled to puberty.

Kelowna is on the brink of physical maturity but its frontal lobe is not entirely developed. That could be managed—barely—but in this case, there’s also an unfortunate infection mucking up the works.

Stay with me here: The physical maturity is the creation of a truly diverse economy for the first time, courtesy of the hospital and uni. Sure we still have that white tsunami demographic to contend with, but the seeds for a Kelowna that won’t boom and bust as it has in the past have been planted. It means our population will grow and economic opportunities will spread.

But we’re not quite savvy in the ways of that world, torn between small town and city values.

For example, in no urban environment would grad kidnappings and bush parties be appropriate or sanctioned by parents. That’s small-town fare, born from a sense of safety parents and teens aren’t afforded in urban areas.

Among other things, urban dwellers have long contended with the aforementioned infection, aka organized crime. When those jerk-offs make brilliant decisions to shoot each other up in public spaces they create public fear, take away small-town innocence and put the police on high alert.

You know, the type of high alert that sends them into the suburbs, ready for a takedown of high school pranksters.

Lest we forget, some witnesses to the infamous Bacon shooting in front of The Grand last summer said they thought they saw “toy guns.”

So gun fans, there’s cause for this war on firearms and the police are busy enough dealing with the whole city going through puberty.

Kathy Michaels is a reporter with the Capital News.

kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

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