In a surprising turn of events, Maj. Kendrick Barling, an acclaimed marksman from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), is facing a series of charges related to smuggling and unauthorized firearm importation. Barling, known for his exceptional skills in rifle marksmanship, has been a recipient of multiple prestigious awards in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
According to CBC News, Maj. Kendrick Barling, who won the Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot for three consecutive years from 2011 to 2013, has been charged with numerous offenses pertaining to smuggling and importing unauthorized firearms. This revelation has come as a shock to many, given Barling’s decorated history in the CAF, where he was also awarded the prestigious honor again in 2016.
The Department of National Defence (DND) confirmed Barling’s accolades in an email to CBC, underscoring his reputation as a top rifle marksman. However, the recent allegations paint a starkly different picture of the major. Retired lieutenant-colonel Rory Fowler, a former military lawyer, expressed his bewilderment at the charges, considering Barling’s extensive firearms expertise. “It really is confounding,” Fowler told CBC News. “An individual who clearly has the experience that he has with firearms would know the risks that they’re taking.”
Barling recently returned to Canada after a five-year stint in the U.S. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reported discovering numerous undeclared firearms hidden in his shipment through Canadian Forces Base Trenton. A subsequent search in October by the CBSA’s Ontario firearms smuggling enforcement team led to the seizure of a substantial cache of weapons and ammunition from properties in Kingston and Petawawa.
The seized items included two shotguns, seven handguns, 10 rifles, approximately 45,000 rounds of ammunition, and several magazines, some of which were over capacity. Notably, multiple firearms had duplicate serial numbers. The CBSA, while declining an interview, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Maj. Barling faces 29 charges, including five counts of smuggling goods into Canada, two counts each of making false statements and importing goods without a permit, nine counts each of importing a firearm knowing it is unauthorized and unauthorized importing of a firearm, and two counts of contravening transportation regulations. These charges have not been tested in court yet.
Barling’s sharpshooting prowess has been well-documented, with several articles on the National Defence website highlighting his awards. In a personal account published in the Maple Leaf in February 2014, Barling, then a captain, described the challenges of training for competitions while stationed at NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs. He expressed his ambition to win both rifle and pistol competitions simultaneously.
Currently employed as deputy coordinator for air planning with the 1st Canadian Division in Kingston, Barling’s case is being closely followed by the CAF, which has pledged to assist the CBSA in its investigation. Fowler commented on the seriousness of the charges, noting that a guilty verdict could result in Barling losing his right to possess firearms and potentially being released from the military.