Canadians in the High River area of southern Alberta found out the hard way that no right is fundamental to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When the police evacuated residents’ homes as a result of massive flooding June 20 and told homeowners that they would have to wait for permission to return, residents were angry enough. But to make matters worse, many of them have discovered that the RCMP has seized a “large quantity of firearms” from the evacuated homes.
And it’s unlikely that the police’s explanation for the confiscation will assuage their concerns.
According to RCMP Sergeant Patricia Neely, “Firearms that were unsafely stored in plain sight were seized for safekeeping.” But Sergeant Brian Topham reported that officers forced their way into many of the homes because of “urgent need.” “We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” he said. “People have a significant amount of money invested in firearms … so we put them in a place that we control and that they’re safe.”
Some observers noted that the word "control” would not have the most positive of connotations to these homeowners.
Andrew McGrath, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Safety, admits that the firearms were seized from homes that were already evacuated. “We have been advised that during the course of searching for individuals unable to make their way to safety, the RCMP discovered firearms that were insecurely stored. Those firearms will be held safely by the RCMP and will be returned to their owners as soon as possible.”
Residents in the area have been under a mandatory evacuation order for over a week. They are being told that they will get their firearms back after the order is lifted, as long as they can present proof of ownership.
Unsurprisingly, an angry and frustrated crowd formed around the blockade police set to keep residents out of the evacuation area.
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