Photos showing flood damage in High River, Alta June 25, 2013 south of Calgary.
Credits: ED DAWSON/QMI AGENCY
Residents of High River are furious after finding out that cops have forced their way into their homes and seized their firearms while they are blocked from returning to their town.
Firearms experts say police do not have the right to enter homes without a warrant and take property, flooding or no flooding.
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“This is without precedent, this is unreasonable search and seizure,” said Ed Burlew, lawyer and firearms specialist in Ontario. “The entry was illegal, it's against the charter, it was unreasonable search and seizure. There's no judge that would uphold the evidence obtained through an illegal entry into a person's home.”
Political leaders say since there is an emergency, police should do what they have to do.
“These are exceptional circumstances, in an emergency situation we have to have our police ensuring that there is law and order,” said Premier Alison Redford late Thursday.
The feds say the police were trying to keep the guns safe.
"We have been advised that during the course of searching for individuals unable to make their way to safety, the RCMP discovered firearms that were insecurely stored. Those firearms will be held safely by the RCMP and will be returned to their owners as soon as possible," said Andrew McGrath, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Safety.
Legal experts say an emergency is no excuse to enter someone's home and seize their property.
“There is no special provision in the Criminal Code that allows the police to enter the homes of gun owners during a time of an emergency,” said Solomon Friedman, lawyer and firearms specialist in Ottawa. “The firearms act is often used by police as a pretext to gain access to private residences that they would not be able to gain access to, the ironic thing here is that if these people were convicted pedophiles the police would not be allowed to enter their homes without warrant, it's kind of sad that gun owners have to fight for the same rights as any convicted criminals.”
MORE: Cops vow to return guns seized without warrants in flooded High River