Friday, February 13, 2015

High River gun grab report released. Surprise! Much of it was illegal.

Yesterday the long awaited report into the RCMP gun grab in High River Alberta was released and you can read it here:

There is plenty there to digest but to sum it up: The RCMP had a legal right to enter (some but not all) homes under Alberta's Emergency Management Act without warrant during a certain time frame ( they abused this time frame) and were allowed by the Criminal Code to seize unsecured guns ( they were not allowed to seize properly stored guns but did so anyway) that were in 'plain sight'. But because the RCMP never lived up to its obligations under the criminal code to take the guns they had seized without warrant before a judge as required by the Criminal Code, it made virtually every single gun seizure by the RCMP done High River an illegal act. That is correct, every single gun seized was seized illegally.

Some of the findings:  
Finding No. 11: It was reasonable for the RCMP members to secure buildings after completing their search. ( it is well known that the RCMP did not secure many residences after they were done searching)

Finding No. 23: In a number of cases, RCMP members' forcible entries to facilitate home inspections caused significant damage and were not reasonable in circumstances where buildings were unaffected by the flood.

Finding No. 24: The secondary entries for the specific purpose of seizing unsecured firearms were not authorized by the Emergency Management Act.

Finding No. 28: RCMP members were authorized to seize unsecured firearms pursuant to section 489 of the Criminal Code.  ( see next finding)

Finding No. 29: In a number of cases the RCMP seized firearms which were lawfully secured.

Finding No. 30: RCMP members were not authorized by the Criminal Code to seize secured firearms. (FYI: A gun in 'plain sight' may indeed be properly stored, where it is located is not the major criteria for defining safe storage)

Finding No. 32: RCMP supervisors failed to provide sufficient guidance to members involved in the seizure of firearms.

Finding No. 34: Where a secondary entry into a building was not authorized under the Emergency Management Act or the common law, the seizure of unsecured firearms was also unauthorized.

Finding No. 37: In several cases the searches exceeded their authorized scope by expanding from a search for people or pets to a search for firearms or contraband.

Finding No. 39: RCMP members failed to report to a justice to show that they had reasonable grounds to undertake warrant less seizures pursuant to paragraph 489.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code.  ( this is the big one showing that ALL seizures were illegal)

Finding No. 46: Overall, the RCMP's communications approach to the High River flooding crisis was ineffective and resulted in a negative impact on RCMP emergency operations and reputation.

Again I suggest you read it all for yourself. This was not a whitewash as some have suggested but rather a thorough investigation of what actually happened in High River.  

A couple of other points: First, to blow my own horn, I sort of nailed a lot of this, mainly on the AEMA back in September 2013 with this post:  I took a lot of heat for that at the time from many who said I was completely wrong about AEMA not giving police any special powers to seize property (guns). Strangely all of those people are silent today.

The other thing is that as much as I like to dump on the PC gov't here in Alberta; this was NOT the fault of Solicitor General Jonathan Denis or the Alberta Government. In fact Denis when he first learned what happened wrote a letter to the RCMP asking for details and clarification on the seizures. He has taken plenty of grief over this and frankly does not deserve any of it. I alluded to this in my Sept 2013 post but wanted to state it again because once again he and the gov't are getting dumped on. Did the PC's try to play politics with this and smear the Wildrose Party as lawless gun nuts? Yes they did and should be called out over it, but in the end they were not responsible for the RCMP's actions.