Alberta Floods 2013: RCMP Invades High River Homes, Seizes Guns

The RCMP is acting like an occupying army in High River.

RCMP officers working in High River, Alta., on June 25, wear protective masks to prevent toxic dust from entering their lungs. The RCMP took some guns from homes they searched that they said were not stored safely and the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement Friday saying it wants them returned.

Governments invariably use emergencies to extend their powers and subject the citizenry to greater abuse. Natural disasters are no exception.

High River was devastated by the flood. The entire town was evacuated.

It has been eight days since residents were forced from their home. As the waters recede, people want to return home and see the status of their property.

“No way,” says the RCMP.

High River is effectively under a state of martial law so intense the citizens cannot even enter the town at all. The RCMP set up a roadblock with 30 officers to prevent residents from entering. Dozens of police cars with flashing lights lined the streets menacingly. A spike strip was deployed to cripple the vehicle of any outlaw who dared to enter the town.

But it is not enough for the RCMP to use threats of violence to keep out residents. Some High River residents have firearms in their home, you see. So those homes had to be invaded, and the firearms had to be confiscated.

“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,” said one RCMP sergeant.

Oh. They are taking guns to do those owners a favor. See? No problem.

“It’s like Nazi Germany,” says a resident. Yes, it is sort of like that. It’s also sort of like New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. FEMA confiscated civilian firearms during that disaster in the name of “safety.” That’s the real template for what’s going on here.

This kind of behavior by the RCMP was entirely predictable because of the lessons of Katrina. Memories of the scandals surrounding FEMA’s gross incompetence during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath informed us how big, bureaucratic government agencies with police powers behave during emergencies. The RCMP is not particularly less malevolent just because they have funny uniforms.

Based on their actions, every level of government involved in the Alberta floods seems desperate to be as incompetent and harmful as FEMA.

The RCMP says they will return the guns to owners “after residents are allowed back in town and they provide proof of ownership.” Something tells me the occupying forces will make it difficult for the gun owners to provide such proof. “Oh, your proof of ownership was destroyed in the flood? That’s a real shame. No gun for you.”

Lorraine Hjalte / Postmedia News

Premier Redford defended the actions of the RCMP. “I really hope that we can focus on more important matters at hand, like getting 12,000 people back into High River than continue to circulate this story,” she said. She seems to overlook that the government has utterly failed in High River. The more they focus on getting High River residents back to their homes, the longer it is likely to take.

When will residents be able to return home? The RCMP tells us: “People much higher up are going to make those decisions.” That sounds efficient. The mayor of High River says no one can return home until Home Hardware and Shoppers Drug Mart are  open. 

In a rare moment of sanity, the Prime Minister’s Office said the RCMP should return the guns. By this I think they mean, “Make it possible in theory for the owners to get the guns back.” Since the Minister of Public Safety is in charge of the RCMP, the Prime Minister can essentially just order the RCMP to return the guns immediately. Yet this has not been done.

But the RCMP never claimed it would keep the guns forever. They’ve maintained the pretense that the guns will be returned. But it’s unlikely that process will be easy.

Will every owner get their guns back?

These are the guys the RCMP is so afraid of?

— Read more at the Calgary Herald, the Globe and Mail, and CBC — 

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