The Canadian Bar Insurance Association

Gun seizure from flood-ravaged homes unacceptable

A move by Alberta Mounties to seize guns during searches of evacuated homes in High River goes “right off the scale” of what’s acceptable when a private home is searched during an emergency, Toronto criminal lawyer Christopher Hicks says on SunNews.

“When I heard that the RCMP (were entering) evacuated homes on an urgent-need basis seizing property - property that they would give back if the people could prove that they owned it - I thought to myself, 'Is this a skit, is this a satire?'” Hicks, partner with Hicks Adams LLP, says on the program. “The Mounties really have to get a better lawyer if this is the kind of legal advice they’re getting.”

The Mounties have said they took the guns as officers searched homes in High River’s flood zone to look for flood victims, pets and anything that might pose a threat to returning residents, the National Post reports.

An RCMP news release says owners of guns that were seized can call police to arrange to pick the weapons up.

“The common law and the Charter have always put a real value on the sanctity of the home and a few years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada looked at this forced entry on an emergency basis into private homes and said this can be done, we want an emergency response system, but once the police force entry into a home, certain issues arise,” Hicks says on the broadcast.

“Are the police exercising the powers that we’ve delegated to them, and if they are exercising them, are they doing so in an unjustifiable way? For example, if you call 911 because you need help, and the police come to help you, it doesn’t mean while they’re helping you they can look through your sock drawer and see if you’ve got some drugs, some porn, or some ammunition or anything else. It’s a limited right of entry and I think here it’s gone right off the scale.”

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