- Associated Press - Friday, December 11, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Cranston man sued his city’s police department on Friday after it refused to return two guns that police seized from his home after a check on his wellbeing.

The federal lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island on behalf of Edward Caniglia, alleges that police violated his constitutional rights to due process and to bear arms by keeping the guns, which he lawfully owns.

Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist would not comment on the case, citing the lawsuit. But he said his top priority is to maintain public safety, “especially as it relates to the release of firearms” that come into police custody.

Caniglia’s wife called police on Aug. 21 and asked them to make sure he was OK following an argument, according to the lawsuit. They went to his house and told him they would confiscate his firearms if he did not go to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

He was taken there by an ambulance and a doctor discharged him.

While he was there, police seized two semiautomatic pistols, according to the lawsuit.

When Caniglia tried to get the guns back, police told him it is department policy not to return guns seized in such situations without a court order.

The ACLU’s executive director, Steven Brown, said there is a need for “carefully crafted regulations” about guns, but that Cranston had set its own rules.

“As the country works to address issues of community safety, it must not do so at the expense of due process and fair application of the law,” Brown said.

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