Evacuees of the historic High River flood that recently swept through parts of the Canadian province of Alberta could have a disturbing surprise waiting for them when they return home in the coming days and weeks. New reports have surfaced indicating that Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers who were sent to search for flood victims instead confiscated a “substantial amount” of guns from victims’ homes, particularly in cases where the firearms were either visible or deemed “unsafe.”
According to MSN.ca, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently issued a public statement urging RCMP to return all the firearms it took from victims’ homes, and instead focus on “protecting lives and private property” during this difficult time. The department, on the other hand, insists that the guns are being held in a safe place, that they were not “confiscated,” and that they will eventually be returned to their owners upon being properly identified and claimed.
But none of this is sitting well with local residents, many of whom were shocked to learn about the sweep after fleeing for safety. According to reports, some of them actually tried to break through police checkpoints at the northwest end of town to get their guns back. Others went to the media to express their vehement disapproval of door-to-door gun confiscations, likening such acts to what occurred in Nazi Germany during the period of the Holocaust.
“I find that absolutely incredible that they have the right to go into a person’s belongings out of their home,” said local resident Brenda Lackey to the Calgary Herald. “When people find out about this, there’s going to be untold hell to pay.”
In its defense, RCMP claims it removed the guns in order to safeguard them from looters, and to ensure that residents would not lose their valuable property during the floods. Denying claims that it acted authoritarian or in any way resembling a rogue police state, RCMP officials have since urged the public not to panic, and to simply come down to the station to pick up their guns upon returning home.
“We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” said Sergeant Brian Topham from RCMP to reporters. “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.”
Area residents decry ‘Nazi-like’ checkpoints blocking them from entering neighborhoods, homes
But many local residents are not buying the rhetoric, especially after they were denied entry into their homes and neighborhoods by police blockades. RCMP reportedly sent hordes of police officers and vehicles to blockade key entry points into High River after the flooding, which put many local residents into a tirade. Roughly 30 RCMP officers manned a checkpoint at the northern end of town, for instance, where they put spike strips on the ground to prevent people from entering.
“What’s next? Tear gas?” shouted one angry resident, as quoted by the Calgary Herald, in response to the checkpoint. “It’s just like Nazi Germany, just taking orders.”
“This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms,” said another resident, Charles Timpano, echoing the sentiments of some of his neighbors who fear another New Orleans-type gun confiscation scenario is taking place, this time north of the U.S. border.
After news of the gun confiscations became widespread, RCMP officers announced that they would no longer proceed to force their way into any more homes stricken by the flood waters. And those homes that were already breached will now be secured, claim reports.
Sources for this article include: