I’m opposed the routine arming of police on philosophical and moral grounds. I will save my arguments for another day, but for now I will list three simple reasons:
- Walter Scott
- Michael Brown
- Ernest Satterwhite
A note to non New Zealanders: NZ police are not routinely armed. They wear stab proof (not bullet proof) vests and are are issued with pepper spray. In some districts, some police may be issued with tasers. Police do have access to weapons if the need arises, but as they are kept in securely locked compartments and removal must be justified, they cannot be used “on the spur of the moment”.
11 Apr, 2015 at 5:18 pm
I agree with you for the reasons you list
11 Apr, 2015 at 8:02 pm
Quite possibly that could work in New Zealand -where there are few guns. In the US there are almost as many guns as there are people and police regularly encounter thieves and gang members and violent criminals who are armed. As much as i do not agree with the culture or availability of weapons in the US, I could not envision police being without those weapons. it would be open season on police if they could not react immediately and quickly with the threat of deadly force. Even here in Canada, we have had numerous policemen shot on duty by armed, violent criminals and those numbers would swell if police could not shoot back. The urban environment is also difficult for police dealing with violent criminals. There are 8 US cities that have a population greater than all of New Zealand and a number of those have many times the population of NZ.
Anyway, I agree with you Barry but think it is too late for that action in the US or Canada.
11 Apr, 2015 at 9:13 pm
Gun ownership is not insignificant in NZ. There’s an estimated a million guns in NZ (and it has to be an estimate because guns aren’t registered here). That puts our gun ownership at 23 per hundred people, compared to 30 in Canada and 90 in the US.
It’s not a matter of it could work here, it does work here, which is why the post is titled “Don’t arm the police”, and not “Disarm the police”.
Every now and again the discussion of arming the police pops up. and the examples I gave are good reasons why we should not go down that path.
12 Apr, 2015 at 2:00 am
I would only argue with the inclusion of Michael Brown on the list.
He robbed a store
He used force to commit that robbery
He was seen wearing clothing that matched the description broadcast
He struck the police officer who stopped to question him
He resisted arrest
He attempted to take the officer’s pistol
He attempted to turn the pistol toward the officer’s body
He was charging at the officer when he was shot and stopped.
These facts were established to be true and actual by the legal system.
And let’s not forget that your examples — both of them that remain — and even if you include Brown are statistically rare events. That would be like saying “because some men rape, all men should be put in chastity belt.” I’m not a fan of most law enforcement, more accurately the laws they have to enforce, the fact is police brutality and wrongful death is a very rare event.
Are you willing to trade more violent crime for fewer police shootings?
Because that what would the result.
12 Apr, 2015 at 2:57 am
The horse has already bolted in the USA. I’m not suggesting that American police should be disarmed, particularly as America has a strange fascination of guns. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, police are not armed. Arming them would not reduce violent crime. It would however increase the risk of innocent people being killed by police.
However, I would disagree that police killings (justified or not) are rare in the US. Official figures are hard to come by as they are not kept, but the FBI records about 400 “justifiable” police homicides a year, and according to this Website there could be as many as 1000 police shootings resulting in death each year.
In NZ there have been a total of 27 fatal police shootings since 1941. That’s approximately one death every 2.7 years. Admittedly NZ is much smaller than the US, but if we were to have the same rate of fatal shootings as the US, there would be 14 such events each year – almost 40 times the current rate.
Those are not statistics I want to see here.
24 Apr, 2015 at 5:00 am
In the last decade the number of innocent people shot by police in the U.S. has reached 5,000 which exceeds the number of soldiers killed since the inception of the Iraq war. Part of the problem is that the police are so poorly trained in the use of firearms but my biggest fear is the increasing militarization of the police as a result of incorporating military personnel, tactics and equipment into the police force.
25 Apr, 2015 at 11:58 am
I am guessing that one of the problems in the US is that some police forces are very small units, perhaps with limited resources for training. We have one unified police force for the whole country, which means it is approaching the size of the po;ice forces of America’s larger cities.
Perhaps also. the fact that our police have never been armed, has resulted in less of a “them and us” attitude between the police and civilians.