10 December 2009

First, Disarm the police...

I made a joke about disarming the police first if a gun ban came to the US, but that isn't as much of a joke in Britain. It seems that British police are equally anxious to keep firearms off the streets and, for the most part, see no way to do it except by leaving their guns at the station.

There was a story a couple of months back where British armed police (CO19) were sent to a London neighbourhood in response to gangland shootings. Armed patrols were sent to estates in Tottenham, Haringey and Brixton. While the tactic had been deployed “for the best of reasons”, according to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson; “however, I believe that unfortunately there has been a failure to appreciate that this could look like a significant change of policing style".

I found this US News & World Report story--Disarming News: Why Bobbies Have No Guns (3 February 1998) that pointed out:
According to a survey by the police officers union, the Police Federation, 4 out of 5 British cops do not want to be armed. Today, 95 percent of officers in England and Wales never carry firearms, and on average police nationwide open fire on only half a dozen occasions a year. In the 30-year history of the Thames Valley Police, a southern England force with 2 million people in its district, not a single round has ever been fired at a human.

Weighing the risk. No one doubts that career criminals remain armed. And so, to outsiders, the British bobby's rejection of firearms may look foolhardy. Yet even officers who have seen handgun mayhem support the policy. Chief Constable Charles Pollard was the commander in charge during a 1987 shooting spree in the village of Hungerford, where a man gunned down 16 people. "The risks are far greater with routine arming of police," says Pollard. "If we arm up, criminals will arm up more." Senior police officers also argue that routine arming would end "policing by consent"--enforcing the law with the public's cooperation and respect.

A Story from Gloucestershire showed that the public had a negative attitude toward armed police:
The sight of policemen openly carrying guns has sparked fears among some city residents.

Reports have come in of armed police officers in Tesco car park off St Oswald's Road and during a recent rugby match at Kingsholm.

Director of Gloucester Emergency Accommodation Resource, in Southgate Street, Brian Jones, which offers help to the homeless, said: "I was concerned to see two police officers with handguns in full view walking across Tesco's car park recently.
"There was clearly no emergency and they were in no hurry.

"I do not expect to see armed police walking around in this country – I am very concerned."

Another concerned resident said they were surprised to see armed police at a recent rugby game.

"There were two policemen carrying sidearms during the Gloucester versus Ospreys rugby match at Kingsholm recently," he said.

"I have no idea why they were there or how long they were staying but they had no sense of urgency – they were just standing there watching the game."

A mother, who wished to remain anonymous, also called The Citizen to complain.

She said: "I was walking through the city centre with my 11-year-old daughter and two policemen wearing those blue boiler-suits were coming towards us.

"My daughter said 'look at those policemen, they've got guns'.

"It was not a pleasant sight as I was always proud of the fact that our police didn't carry guns."

I said in my post about rights that some rights that:
the US tends to make a great deal of rights. These rights impose the value system where they originate: the European liberal tradition, in particular Anglo-American liberalism. One finds that rights are not as much of an issue in other countries as they are in the United States.

In particular, some people do not see "gun rights" as a good thing.

It is even more interesting to see that the place where the US received its concept of rights, does not share a similar concept of "gun rights".

I prefer a disarmed and peaceful society to an armed and violent one.

That is a much better right.