Prime Minister’s Office notice impressed guns seized from evacuated High River, Alta., homes

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
High River saw severe flooding last week and residents were forced from their homes to the nearby commmunities of Nanton, Okotoks and Blackie.

Holy heavy handedness, Batman! RCMP participating in flood evacuation and security in High River, Alta, say they have taken steps to secure valuable property left behind in flooded homes, but only very specific valuable property.

Just the guns.

The Calgary Herald reports that RCMP have seized a "substantial amount" of firearms from homes in the evacuated town, in what is an apparent counteraction to avoid losing them to looters.

“We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” Sgt. Brian Topham told the newspaper.

“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.”

While the RCMP says registered owners will get the guns back once the floodwater has receded, it has done little to calm furious residents.

Some residents were already outraged that they are not allowed to return to their homes and gathered en mass at police blockades. One person compared the situation to "Nazi Germany," while another said there would be "untold hell to pay" when residents learned their firearms were being seized.

While Premier Alison Redford sided with police, saying these were "exceptional circumstances," the Prime Minister's Office was far less enthusiastic.

“We expect that any firearms taken will be returned to their owners as soon as possible,” PMO spokesman Carl Vallée told the Globe and Mail. “We believe the RCMP should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.”

Keeping people from their homes as a safety precaution: understandable. Apparent concern about looters: understandable. The decision to enter homes and snatch up property: bit of a stretch.

In some cases, officers forced their way into homes to ensure they were secured. If this is really about safekeeping valuables, why not grab the jewelry and televisions as well? If this is about securing firearms, wouldn't it have been better, at least more democratic, to continue patrols and leave private property alone?

After all, laws already state guns should be kept unloaded and locked in a secure place. If there are that many people breaking those laws, we’ve got bigger troubles.

Residents will learn today when the will be allowed to return home. If they've lost their guns, they'll need to show proof of ownership to get them back.

What is the over/under on the number of guns that remain in police custody?