Canadians in the High River area of Alberta – many already “irate” at not being able to return to their homes after massive flooding last week – were shocked to learn late Thursday that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have seized a “large quantity of firearms” from their evacuated houses.
RCMP Sergeant Patricia Neely said that “Firearms that were unsafely stored in plain sight were seized for safekeeping,” but Sgt. Brian Topham told the National Post 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,” Sgt. Topham 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.”
They will be returned to residents with proof of ownership after the evacuation order — which is now into its eighth day — is lifted, authorities say.
Business owner Brenda Lackey told the Globe and Mail: “Now what they’re doing is looking for firearms and ammunition. How do they have the right to do that? What does that have to do with the disaster? …This is martial law. What has happened to our country?”
The Conservative Prime Minister’s office has said in an email to the National Post that it believes the guns will be returned as soon as possible, and that “the RCMP should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.”