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  1. #1
    Rocket Dog WalOne's Avatar
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    Question To arm our Police. Or not.

    This morning's leader from Alex Braae's The Spinoff is this well written and objective piece on the pros and cons of arming our Police.

    Contentious in parts, it deserves our close attention and inclusion into a wider conversation. Personally I'm not for routine arming of Police, but from the perspective of one whose father was shot in an armed robbery I'm for tighter gun controls. Are you?

    All frontline Canterbury police have been told to arm themselves by their District Commander, reports Stuff. The order followed a shootout involving police, in which a man allegedly opened fire on police and was shot twice. It is important to note that the order is regional, temporary, and being issued while police hunt for a second suspect. Police minister Stuart Nash was quoted in the Newstalk ZB bulletins this morning, saying that general arming is not on the horizon. However, the episode has raised the conversation – should it be?

    That's one argument made in an interview Police Association boss Chris Cahill gave to Morning Report yesterday. Mr Cahill said police were seeing more and more incidents involving firearms, either being in the possession of suspects, presented at officers or actually fired. The data that came up in the interview didn't necessarily point to that conclusion, though Mr Cahill stood by the claim, saying the data was flawed. But his wider point was the same as what the Police Association have been calling for, for many years now – that there needs to be tighter gun control and registration, and that police should have access to firearms at all times.

    The first change being called for is allegedly being blocked by gun enthusiasts who are against tighter regulation. There have been various political skirmishes over it. It's a strange one though, because New Zealand doesn't have a widespread culture of people in cities owning guns – just an estimated 16% of all households have a gun. The overwhelming number of them are shotguns and rifles rather than handguns, which heavily implies they're for hunting or used by farmers. It obviously only takes one gun in the wrong set of hands, but if as Mr Cahill asserts it's often hardened criminals holding that gun, it's not clear what effect new regulations would have.

    The second – armed police – is picking up much more attention. It goes against the idea of policing that many New Zealanders hold as ideal. The debate comes up in some shape or form almost every year, and while police policy might inch towards it (having firearms in most police cars, for example) it never quite goes outright. Then again, when that change came in, it was hailed by a Police Association representative as a step towards general arming.

    But one thing that shouldn't be forgotten in the move to have all officers be armed is that the training they undertake isn't necessarily to the level it should be. The Armed Offenders Squad, for whom being armed is a core part of their job, undergo extremely rigorous selection, outlined in this North and South feature. Generally speaking – but not universally so – the AOS have been able to assess when not to shoot. That might not necessarily be the case for every officer, and adding guns into situations where they wouldn't otherwise be can lead to unpredictable outcomes. And given the government's recruitment is being offset by large numbers of departures, a lot of these cops will be very inexperienced.

    The other aspect of this that can never be ignored – policing isn't applied equally to all citizens of New Zealand, and having generally armed police could exacerbate bad outcomes. That's a point made by Morgan Godfery on Māui Street – that it's overwhelmingly likely that armed police will mean more dead Māori people. You can accept that police officers don't want to shoot people, but also accept that it's overwhelmingly more likely that more people will be shot when they shouldn't have been if all police are armed. That's the experience that has been seen in various taser incidents since they were introduced.

    Nobody would deny that police officers face serious dangers on the job. But New Zealand has extremely low rates of gun deaths, both involving police and otherwise, compared to the rest of the world. For a lyrical outline of why that matters, and why not having generally armed police is a crucial aspect of that, read Eric Crampton's essay on The Spinoff from 2017.
    Last edited by WalOne; 01-03-2019 at 06:14 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member piroska's Avatar
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    Look at the US, didn't do much to stop crime there, did it?
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  3. #3
    Superanuitant Poppa John's Avatar
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    I aggree with you in part. I think more people are shot by police (for dubious reasons) than there are police shot by people.

    In NZ it would seem that mostly gang members have small arms as well as long guns to be used for other than genuine hunting. PJ
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  4. #4
    amateur expert dugimodo's Avatar
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    In the incident in question they shot the guy, clearly they had guns available when needed. I'm not sure I see the benefit of carrying them around permanently.
    The worry is that it escalates things, if the police are always armed will that mean criminals will feel the need to always be armed as well?
    If armed criminals becomes the norm won't police be more inclined to shoot first, ask questions later in the interests of their own survival?

    These are the questions that worry me, and I've not seen much in the way of arguments to make it seem ok. In the US where hand guns are common they don't really have a choice but to arm the police, it's a different situation from here.
    do we really want to move towards that?

    I've seen a few incidents on police shows where police seemed very jumpy and inclined to pull a gun on people at the drop of a hat (and who can blame them in some contexts really), I don't want to be pulled over for speeding and have an officer approach with one hand on his gun.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    If the police are armed the criminals will think they need guns which will make the general public think they require firearms to protect themselves. Next thing it will be the same as the US. I don't think that we want that.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    A lot of criminals already have guns and use them. The police certainly do need to have suitiable weapons available to protect either the public or themselves.
    In a perfect world guns would not be required however we do not have a perfect world.
    Unfortunately a group hug does not work however much you may wish that it would.
    Just as there is the old saying that "there are no atheists in foxholes" there is nobody that has been shot at that does not believe it is not a good idea to be able the shoot back.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    From the NZ Police web site, it seems the last officer killed on duty was almost a decade ago, in May 2009 - http://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/h...-criminal-acts - while Police certainly do have a difficult job, the risk to life is statistically not nearly as high as some people make it out to be.

    Additionally, they also carry firearms in cars for quick access if needed. I'm not sure 'on the hip' gun carry as standard is really needed or desirable.

    As an aside, I went through a breath testing stop last night. Interesting thought that every single officer there was carrying a loaded gun.

  8. #8
    Senior Member 1101's Avatar
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    How about having them patrol in pairs, always, without exception . Thats if we are truly serious about their safety.

    If we arm them, more innocents & bystanders will get shot . Just the way it is (has allready happened)
    We'll also have some instances of crims & aholes getting shot when there was no need to do so .
    Add to that the real issue of suicide by police shooting, where the crims and crazies will do whatever it takes to get the cops to shoot them .

    So accept all the consequences if we have them permanently armed .
    And never again accept or put up with complaints & media beatups every time they do shot crims , no more second guessing after the fact.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Digby's Avatar
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    It just needs the police to raid every gang pad, and ever gang house (state house) and search for guns
    Melt the guns and charge them for owning an illegal gun.

    Its not rocket science.
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  10. #10
    Rocket Dog WalOne's Avatar
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    Default Re: To arm our Police. Or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick G View Post
    As an aside, I went through a breath testing stop last night. Interesting thought that every single officer there was carrying a loaded gun.
    Nick, you're from Christchurch aren't you? That's what sparked this thread, Canterbury Police District being temporarily armed
    I have very high hopes that seriousness is a reversible condition.

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