PMO says the RCMP should have better things to do than seize guns
The Prime Minister’s Office is stepping into the controversy surrounding the flood response in High River, Alta., saying the RCMP should have better things to do than seize residents’ guns.
The town remains under evacuation, and emergency crews have been going from home to home, searching for people and assessing damage.
Earlier this week, it emerged RCMP were also seizing guns that had been left out in the open, saying they were doing it out of safety and that the guns would be returned. Many residents, however, complained that RCMP were seizing their property.
Stephen Harper’s office sided with the residents.
“We expect that any firearms taken will be returned to their owners as soon as possible,” PMO spokesman Carl Vallée said. “We believe the RCMP should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.”
On Thursday, RCMP Sergeant Patricia Neely said the guns will all be returned. “Firearms that were unsafely stored in plain sight were seized for safekeeping,” she said. By Friday, an RCMP spokesperson said the force was preparing a statement on the gun seizure.
Canadian law requires that guns be unloaded and locked away when stored.
High River, population 13,000, was worst-hit by last week’s flooding. Much of the town remains under water, and officials say it’s too dangerous for residents to be allowed back in. That has left municipal leaders under fire from residents anxious to assess the damage at their home.
Danielle Smith, leader of Alberta’s Official Opposition Wildrose Party and the MLA who represents High River, said on Twitter she doesn’t have a problem with RCMP seizing loose guns. “The problem is if residents have trouble getting them back,” she said. She added that it’s unclear how many guns Mounties seized.