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Arming the police

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, July 15th, 2010 - 123 comments
Categories: police - Tags: ,

In the shadow of recent police shootings we are being presented with the idea of increased police access to firearms as a virtual fait accompli:

Police should have easier access to guns by Christmas, Police Minister Judith Collins says. The issue of access to guns was raised after two Christchurch policemen were shot and seriously wounded yesterday. Dog-handler Senior Constable Bruce Lamb, 51, and Constable Mitchel Alatalo, 39, both underwent surgery in Christchurch Hospital last night after being shot while carrying out routine inquiries in suburban Phillipstown yesterday morning.

“The time for talking has stopped. We’re now at nine police officers shot in two years … It’s unacceptable,” [Police Association president] Mr O’Connor said. “Whatever we’re doing now is not working, so certainly we’re going to have more people on the frontline armed.” The officers were unarmed and did not take a Taser from their vehicle with them but Ms Collins said easy access to a gun may have helped them.

Police can have guns with them, kept in a box in their vehicle’s boot, but Commissioner Howard Broad is looking at a policy change where they could be kept within hand reach in the vehicle. “We should have a policy from police by Christmas,” Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand. There would be no need for a law change and it was an operational matter for police.

According to the above the changed proposed is from guns locked in the boot of the car to guns “within hand reach” in the vehicle. Other coverage puts the issue differently:

The present policy allows for police to be armed, depending on the level of risk, with authorisation from superiors. … “These [shooting] situations that are occurring, many are surprise events. An ambush if you like,” said Mr Broad. In these situations, there could be weapons such as handguns immediately available to police officers.

“At the moment, those weapons are either held at the police station or held in one of the supervisor’s vehicles. It’s quite a big step to actually withdraw and go and get weapons and return to the scene of an incident. We are looking at a situation where those weapons would be available to officers on frontline duty with their vehicles, held in secure facilities, but available to them. “Now, it’s a judgment call for our officers, but I back the judgment of our officers.”

These accounts differ in detail, but what is agreed is that police will be getting easier access to firearms. This doesn’t require a law change. And it’s likely to be done by Christmas.

I don’t think such a change should be made without significant public debate. And I for one am opposed to any such proposal. I’m opposed for four reasons.

First objection – It won’t make the police any safer. Anyone mad enough to shoot at a cop (or anyone else for that matter) is not going to be deterred if the cop is armed. The move is being justified by reference to “ambush situations”, but carrying a gun doesn’t stop you from being ambushed, it doesn’t make you any less likely to get hit. Better protective gear does that.

As it happens I’m not alone in this opinion. And here I salute the honesty and character of Senior Constable Bruce Lamb who should certainly know something about it, don’t you think?

The police dog handler shot in the jaw in Christchurch yesterday is deeply upset about the loss of his dog Gage, but does not think it would have made a difference if he had been armed at the time of the incident. … Mr Lamb had access to a firearm in his police truck, but chose not to pick it up when he went into the house.

Second objection – It will make the public less safe. More guns means more bullets means more people getting hit. It’s not rocket science. From the second article above:

The Police Association welcomed the move, but gave warning that it would ultimately mean more people getting shot.

Credit for acknowledging the truth, but then:

Greg O’Connor, the association’s president, said: “If these officers had shot someone [yesterday] there would be a massive outcry in the media about why did the police need to shoot them and that’s where we just need to grow up as a country.” New Zealanders needed to stop “getting squeamish” about firearms and “get squeamish” about officers getting shot, he said.

I find the causal attitude to increased civilian deaths horrifying. If it’s all the same to you, Greg, I will remain “squeamish” about people getting shot, and I refuse to “grow up” about it. If I thought that carrying guns was going to make police safer there might be a debate to be had here, but see above.

Third objection – The argument that there has been a recent upsurge in police shootings that justifies this escalation is rubbish. This post is already too long, so I’ll simply direct you to the excellent No Right Turn.

Fourth objection – Escalation is a bad idea. If guns become more visible and are used more frequently, then of course the serious criminal element will respond in kind. No one ends up any safer, the general public are considerably more at risk, and New Zealand has lost another stubborn vestige of its innocence, never to be regained. How safe are the heavily armed police in America?

123 comments on “Arming the police ”

  1. Carol 1

    It seems to me that this more-access to guns proposal is just a vote-getter that detracts from more important issues – or maybe deliberately keeps other issues off the front pages.

    • joe bloggs 1.1

      is just a vote-getter that detracts from more important issues or maybe deliberately keeps other issues off the front pages

      I’m not sure of your angle there Carole but, given the rise in firearms offences in New Zealand, gun control laws, public safety and the safety of our police force are pretty important issues to focus on.

      If you look at the Australian experience where all police are armed, since the early 1990’s firearm homicide as a proportion of all homicides has halved, and that continues the general downward trend in firearm homicide that began in the early 1980s.

      This published paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology has more detail:

      The big issue is how to get guns out of the households – particularly unlicensed guns and handguns

      • Lew 1.1.1

        So much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start.

        For one thing, we don’t have a problem with firearm crime in NZ. We just don’t. We have a lot of guns and relatively liberal gun laws, and very slack enforcement and we’re still way behind most comparator countries.

        For another the Australian situation is wildly different to ours. Very weak firearm regulation pre-Port Arthur, followed by a draconian crackdown which cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars just to buy back a fraction of the firearms declared illegal (not to mention the additional costs of enforcing this). All this on the background of a much, much higher underlying violent crime rate, partly due to powerful organisaed crime interests, much more powerful than those we have here, and widespread police and official corruption (also absent here). It’s arguable that Howard’s costly actions were justified in order to bring the number of firearm homicides down to a little less than double our present rate. There’s no credible argument to be made for that here.

        One thing we can agree on, though: the biggest issue is control of illegally-held firearms, and that that’s where resources ought to be concentrated. This was a major recommendation of the Thorp report in 1997, not implemented, and the Jan Molenaar case illustrates what happens when you revoke licenses (making outlaws of previously law-abiding gun owners) and then fail to follow up.


        • Carol

          Thanks, Lew, you gave a much more detailed reply to joe bloggs than I could’ve done. Though it did seem to me that fire-arm control is not the biggest problem NZ is facing right now – well certainly not in the form of needing to arm police more.

          At the moment there’s starting to be rumblings, throwing doubt on previous optimistic pronouncements of recover from the financial crisis. Focusing on hyperbole about the need for police to get armed and tough on crime is a diversion.

          I also wonder if, in times of uncertainty, the posturing of a tough daddy state, claiming to be “protecting” innocent citizens from a major evil, makes some people feel a bit reassured.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Coming next on the front page of the Herald: Sexy young she-cop with guns positioned attractively on hips!!!!

    • RobertM 2.1

      Well why not.I’m waiting for that Herald cover. It gives the NSW women cops a look that is either sinister or somewhat sexy. Certainly more body armour is not the answer. The Ron Mark vests have ruined the appearance of the men in the policeforce and on women their an attrocity. Whether the police should be everybodies friend, or the friend of the male working class as a matter of policy is somewhat debatable.Whether they really represent middle class interest is somewhat questionable-most emphasis seems to be on policing and suppressing the oddbods not the crims. But maybe with P and more inequality the crims are more serious, harder and looser today. Distance for the police might be useful and a somewhat less visible policeforce that was unobtrustive but more effective might be useful. Being close to the community may make it impossible to do the job properly. Social cohesion should not necessarily be the highest priority if means surrendering to the stupid, the fundamentalists and criminal classes.
      Obviously the police need political cooperation- I can think of half a dozen backpacker bars and polynesian bars of the Alan Duff like consistituency in the Auckland CBD that should have their liquor license withdrawn for obvious longstanding problems of dangerous meanacing street spillover. If John Banks is the police’s friend he is extraoridnarily effective while Andrew Williams administration has largely sanatised Devonport closing the navy beer barns and generally upmarketed Takapuna. In many ways I dislike it and to some it it unfair particularly the sailors but Williams seem to do the job.
      At a certain point I think the police have to show lethal force. The taser is a shortrange weapon of intermediate force. The idea of lock boxes in the boot alluded to by police minister Judith Collins and John Campbell dosen’t really seem the answer. It stops an immediate counter to a threat yet the psychogical propensity of the officer to use the firearm is unlikely to decrease in the 20 blurred seconds he wips the boot open and uses the ever ready key.
      Where the real problem occurs its likely to be a working class firearms or drug issue. I wrote much of the commentary in the nations leading newspapers on rail privatisation and I don’t apologise for depriving Yul Molenear of the job- part of my aim was to remove the likes of him from the workforce because to have a modern rail useful to the public, tourists and business you ahve to get rid of the derilicts that were ruining the scene.

      • Joe H 2.1.1

        Ya gotta love the Red Necks, I agree shoot all the niggers, wogs, dole bladgers dpb’s and homeless beggars, just cannot have those bastions of the righteous white Devonport and Takapuna as being the only place you can live free. I can only hope you break a leg or your neck skiing this winter, best yet a armed street cop gets to mistakenly shot you on the way to the ski field, I feel sure you will thank him or her for that privilege after all the the police were only doing there job, you just happened to be collateral damage. I for one do not want to be the next innocent victim of these dumb cop’s who can shot, kill and never have to face the law they are charged to uphold protect and serve. may you rest in peace Halatau Naitoko. I doubt It.

  3. Butyeahbutnahyeahnah 3

    How long till a memeber of the fuzz gets shot by their own (or partners) weapon?
    I got $20 for your favourite interest group if you think this wont happen with in a year…. Any takers?

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Greg O’Connor, the association’s president, said: “If these officers had shot someone [yesterday] there would be a massive outcry in the media about why did the police need to shoot them and that’s where we just need to grow up as a country.’

    And the Minister wonders why the police are not universally respected, and deffered to, and granted unconditional love.

  5. MrSmith 5

    ‘Mr O’Connor said. “Whatever we’re doing now is not working,’

    So O’Connors solution is hand out some more guns.

    This is almost another Tui billboard.

    • Rex Widerstrom 5.1

      I was just thinking that this is the perfect example of the “We must DO something!… this is something… so we must do it…” line of “logic” but you beat me to it MrSmith.

      As for O’Connor’s “youse people we’re meant to serve and protect is gonna get shot, so just HTFU” line… I’m glad to see that, as I first enraged a copper by saying when I was a lippy teenager arrested for some bullshit that never resulted in a conviction, the NZ police need to realise stuff they watch on TV at the station isn’t real life. They’re not John McClane and the casualties don’t get up after they’ve finished playing the hero and go back to their trailers for lunch.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    But at least the police will be less likely to use tasers which should please the Greens. 🙂

    • felix 6.1

      Aw, he put the “cute” in “electrocute”.

      Creepy psycho behaviour. Careful.

  7. comedy 7

    Any data from Australia regarding the impact of arming the police over there and the incidence of police being shot/having to shoot people ?

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      Given the history, and the different police and gun cultures of the two countries, I’d not think it’d tell you much.

      For instance, the police over there were armed when? How reliable do you think the crime data from that period is? So how are you going to find the impact of arming the police?

      Or do you just mean to compare the current numbers and put any difference down to the fact that their police carry side arms and ours do not?

      But why on earth would you do that?

    • Lew 7.2

      Lots of data from other jurisdictions, but mostly not applicable in NZ. Particularly in the most common comparators — USA and Australia — things are radically different. Higher criminal usage of firearms, higher availability of pistols and other concealable firearms, longer history/more established norm of police being more heavily armed, more compliance-oriented policing strategies leading to poorer police/community relationships, and so on. It’s a methodological minefield. Beware anyone who comes bearing glib statistics of this sort, they’re trying to sell you something.

      Edit: What Bookie said.


      • comedy 7.2.1

        The major concerns in relation to arming/not arming the police seem to be the police shooting people who would not otherwise need to be shot/decreasing the number of gun(and other weapon) attacks on the police.

        It would be interesting to see what the incidence of those events are in our closest neighbour who does have an armed police force and is not too different from ourselves in terms of the populace. The UK would also be an interesting as they still don’t have an armed police force ?

        Or we could just ignore all overseas experience on whether we do or don’t arm the police.

        • Lew

          The point is that it is too different fior useful conclusions to be drawn. It’s interesting to consider, and important to review the experience elsewhere, but that’s about the extent of it. The UK would indeed be more interesting — but they’ll be looking to our experience, since we’re ahead of them in the “guns for everyone in blue” stakes.


          • comedy

            If you proceed down this path then the only way to make a ‘useful conclusion’ is to try the experiment of arming the police and I’m not sure that’s a sensible way to approach the issue.

            Hardly matters anyway as it will be a political decision based on the governments gauge of public opinion.

            On a separate but related note I heard it was Barry Matthews (of corrections and INCIS infamy) who unilaterally axed the ability of the police to carry weapons in their cars during the late 90s and up until that time it had been common practice…. does anyone know if this is correct ?

            • Lew

              Well, if there’s not much useful evidence from elsewhere, then there’s not much. I think the appropriate response here is sober and conservative reflection rather than a knee-jerk search for justifications.


  8. Olwyn 8

    The woman whose son was accidentally killed by police fire last year said this morning on Morning Report that police, if they are to carry guns to the extent that they now do, need to be properly trained. Someone else associated with the police (I have forgotten who) said that the training they received was minimal – more or less a day on the firing range. If the police were to retain the same levels of training but hand out more guns, the result would surely be disastrous. It seems to me that if they are to have guns at all (and there will be occasions where it is prudent that they do) then they should be very well trained in their use.

    • Lew 8.1

      I believe they do a couple of weeks at the range during basic training, and not less than three full days per year, not all of it “live”. Still, that’s not very much for two complex and very different firearms (glock pistol and bushmaster assault rifle). Conventional wisdom is that while the AOS are very well-trained, it’s not a priority for most police and they’re just barely “good enough”. By comparison, most hunters and farmers would have more firearms experience and practice, and though with less-technical weapons in much less complex situations. This would absolutely have to change if firearm deployment was more common.


      • Lanthanide 8.1.1

        They were even recently talking about scrapping firearms training for some officers that don’t need it, or cutting it back to 1 day a year for others.

        • Lew

          Yeah. Senior police and those designated “first responders” to receive more training, others to receive less. This isn’t actually a bad idea under the status quo where most police never need to use a firearm — just division of labour — but it would be a catastrophic policy under a regime where all police have routine access to firearms.


    • loota 8.2

      To have a minimal competency with firearms (and I don’t mean to shoot ducks, but use under huge time and psychological pressure where you may have to shoot someone) you probably need to do an intensive course for several days and then spend a few hours every month training.

      Problem is then, reaching for a firearm will then feel natural as a solution to a lot of situations.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1

        Problem is then, reaching for a firearm will then feel natural as a solution to a lot of situations.

        And which is why the army don’t make good police officers.

        • loota

          That and the job of a soldier is to hunt down enemies of the State. And if soldiers are made into policemen, the people naturally become the enemies of the State.

      • Rex Widerstrom 8.2.2

        Precisely. Anyone else watching these “real life” cop shows coming out of the US ever wonder “WTF?!” when officers routinely pull a gun and point it at anyone they ask to step out of a vehicle, even if the “perp” is, say, a drunk middle aged woman pulled over for a DUI?

        As someone who’s quite happy to “verbal” the police as much as they’re happy to “verbal” me, but who’d never think of assaulting them (not because they’re the police but because I don’t go rounding harming other human beings) I don’t really want resorting to a sidearm to become the reaction du jour to any challenge.

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    Cops have been likely to have a shooter in the glovebox for some years now and it pays to act cautiously whenever you interact with them. You can’t trust some NZ police with pepper spray and you can’t trust them with tasers, the latter regularly being used to get ‘compliance’ rather than as a substitute for lethal force (tasers are obviously pretty lethal too when used repeatedly or on a person of doubtful health).

    So what makes anyone think they can be trusted with openly carrying guns for goodness sake? Cops do lose it, ask Steven Wallaces family. An allegedly skilled AOS member managed to “accidentally’ fatally shoot young courier driver Halatau Naitoko on the Auckland motorway without too much difficulty.

    The temptation is for cops to become judge and jury out of frustration, malice or lack of control. At least if the weapons are kept in vehicles there are a few minutes or seconds to reconsider before blasting someone to oblivion. NZ police are trained to target the upper torso, they do not shoot to disable. The blunt truth is fully arming the police creates a potential executioner in every Police uniform or Hugh Wrights suit.

  10. felix 10

    Then why not just arm all the police all the time?

    Does anyone seriously believe that this is not the ultimate goal of these fuckwits?

    Just say it. Say what it is you want and let’s have the discussion about that, eh?

  11. Pundit X 11

    Actually what the left in New Zealand doesn’t realize (you should get out more) is the extremely high level of gun crime in this country. The level of Police Officers being shot or killed is much higher than in say the UK with a significantly higher population. Its purely speculative as to whether or not this latest incident would have had a different outcome had the police been armed. Arguments for or against arming the police usually become idealogical rather than fact based. The fact remains if your going to ask Police Officers to front up against armed offenders on our behalf then we should be allowing them the opportunity to come out of the situation alive and unharmed, with a good chance of apprehending the offender.

    • comedy 11.1

      I don’t think anyone apart from a fuckwit would disagree with your closing sentence.

    • Lew 11.2

      Pundit X, the initial statement is just bullshit. Our annual rate per 100,000 is somewhat higher than the UK (0.12 murders or attempted murders with firearms, compared to 0.18 here), but we have far higher firearm ownership rates, and much less restrictive firearm laws. The rate is much lower than Australia (and they also have much more restrictive laws), and lower than virtually every comparable country in the world. Firearm crime in NZ isn’t quite a non-issue, but it’s far from a pressing priority. There are a dozen other, more important, law and order issues to deal with, and we ought to be dealing with those first. I wrote about this at considerable length a few days ago.

      As to your last statement: police already do have access to arms when they know they’ll be needed. In the huge majority of cases they’re not. They already do successfully apprehend armed offenders without uinjury in almost every case. When they don’t, it’s a massive front-page news splash. There are considerable costs to deploying arms as a precaution, because it undermines our “community” policing model and will embolden criminals to tool up also. but if you’re RTFA you’d have known that.


    • joe90 11.3

      The level of Police Officers being shot or killed is much higher than in say the UK with a significantly higher population.

      Really, I count 63 shot.

  12. joe90 12

    *Halatau Naitoko, Northwestern Motorway on January 23 2009.

    * October 23, 2008. A woman armed with a gun entered the First Mobile Vodafone Shop in Reyburn St, Whangarei, shortly after 9am. About an hour later she opened the shop door and was shot by a member of the police armed offenders squad, crouched behind a car across the road;

    * September 26, 2007. Stephen Bellingham, 37, shot dead by a policeman in Christchurch about 8.30pm after smashing cars/car windows with a claw hammer. Said to have been on a party-pill binge. Advanced on the police officer with the hammer. Warned but kept advancing. Hit in chest (fatally) and one leg. Policeman said to have fired four shots;

    * August 14, 2004. Haidar Ebbadi Mahdi 37, died from a bullet to the head as he stabbed his wife being held in a headlock in a South Auckland house on Saturday afternoon;

    * April 30, 2000. Steven Wallace, 23, of Waitara, shot after a window smashing spree in the town;

    * July 1, 1999. Edwin Leo, 31, shot near Helensville, Northland, following a car chase;

    * September 21, 1996. James Raharuhi killed by a single police bullet at a service station in Greenlane, Auckland;

    * June 24, 1996. Terence Thompson shot in a Havelock North orchard. Thompson was the prime suspect in the slaying of Constable Glenn McKibbin;

    * November 20, 1995. Barry Radcliffe shot after taking a rifle from a sporting goods store in Whangarei;

    * September 28, 1995. Eric Gellatly shot in Invercargill, after he took over a sports shop in the central city and began firing indiscriminately;

    * July 29, 1993. Larry Hammond died after being shot three times in the Morrinsville police station;

    * November 14, 1990. Members of the anti-terrorist squad shot David Malcolm Gray after he killed 13 people at Aramoana, Otago;

    * October 27, 1990. Paul Melvin Stowers died after being shot in the forehead by a detective whom he threatened with a shotgun in Newmarket, Auckland;

    * March 14, 1986. Benjamin Wharerau shot as he took a hostage in a robbery of a Dargaville bank;

    * June 6, 1985. Kevin David Fox was shot after he killed his wife in a car in Gore;

    * April 18, 1983. Paul Chase shot by the armed offenders squad in a raid on a Petone, Wellington, flat;

    * December 24, 1982. John Edward Morgan shot near Wainuiomata, Wellington, after throwing an axe at police;

    * May 20, 1979. Nicholas Panayi shot by the armed offenders squad outside his Henderson, Auckland, home after a domestic dispute;

    * October 4, 1976. The armed offenders squad shot Daniel Houpapa after he fires at an officer in Taumarunui;

    * 1975. Edward Ross shot by the armed offenders squad as he stabbed his daughter after escaping from a Christchurch psychiatric hospital;

    * April 16, 1970. Bruce John Glensor, holding two hostages in a Wellington house shot by the armed offenders squad when he threatened to shoot an officer;

    * December 14, 1949. Waata Haremia Momo shot in Weedon, Canterbury, after exchanging shots with police.

    * October 20, 1941. West Coast farmer Eric Stanley Graham killed after shooting three policemen and three civilians;

    [Thanks joe90. This list apparently from here. — r0b]

    • joe90 12.1

      Lee Jane Mettam, 37, shot by a member of the police armed offenders squad on October 23, 2008.

      • comedy 12.1.1

        I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make ….. or do you just like lists ?

  13. Pundit X 13

    Stick to the facts Lew I wrote: number of Police Officers shot or killed. As to criminals being emblodened or tooled up – they are already..

    • Lew 13.1

      Well, no. The point is that they’re not. They could be — and probably the best way to ensure that is to arm police, and everyone else in society, so that they feel like they need to.


  14. joe90 14

    You pick the righteous shootings comedy and I’ll pick the murders.

    John Edward ‘Miggs’ Morgan was armed with an axe. Murdered.

    Paul Chase was holding a bull worker. Murdered

    Steven Wallace was armed with a golf club, Murdered

    Stephen Bellingham, was armed with a hammer. Murdered

    Halatau Naitoko was an innocent bystander. Murdered

    • comedy 14.1

      So all the rest are righteous shootings and those listed above are IYHO murders ?

      You are an odd young mannequin.

  15. ianmac 15

    Remember the shootout from several policemen attempting to shoot the dog from point blank range? A running dog might be hard to hit but perhaps the training program should include moving targets instead of those peace-loving passive paper targets.

  16. jcuknz 16

    Collins is crackers …. having guns in locked box in the car would not have helped these officers. They were shot before they could exit the house to get them. To be safe, maybe, maybe not, they would have needed to have approached and entered the house with drawn guns If that was on the cards then the guy in the house could have come at them with one of the other two weapons and we would have had another police fatality. Guns in locked boxes is simply pussy-footing around the situation. We have to decide if we want our police to carry guns all the time or not. and if yes then increase the police budget so that they have adequate and proper training in their use and regular and frequent practice to maintain their skill to use the weapons properly and with care.
    Side point .. if marajana was legal this event wouldn’t have happened.

  17. joe90 17

    I have no problem with Police shooting people who are a threat to others or who present a firearm, the five below were doing neither.

    John Edward ‘Miggs’ Morgan was a childhood friend of mine who was well known to the police as a petty criminal, a nuisance and likable rogue. He was being pursued by a helicopter and when he was spotted on the shingle bank of a river the helicopter landed and the police confronted him. Miggs had one leg, his stump was rubbed raw in his prosthesis and he was only able to hop on the other leg, the only weapon he had was the axe and he was shot after he threw it.

    Paul Chase was shot in his own home.

    Both Wallace and Bellingham were shot for damaging property.

    Halatau Naitoko was shot because the police failed to identify their target.

  18. As always, the debate is about what is happening as a result of policy. Why do we have more crime and violence in NZ (the World)? I think that it is probably because of the world that has been created where community has been demolished and there are a few ‘winners’ and many ‘losers’.

    Who wouldn’t be angry in a society where the rich live very well and the poor – well we know how they live. It ii no coincidence that crime is greater where there is poverty. Any, whilst we ware betting, want to have a wager where the first person shot dead by a policeman will be (after, and if, they all get firearms)? My money is on Northland, South Auckland, or East Coast.

    And whilst we are at it – Maori/ Pacific Islanders are un-backable favorites for the first to be shot.

    Police with guns – admission of policy and societal failure.

  19. Pundit X 19

    Lew, We on the liberal left do two things we are aspirational and we make the mistaken presumption that others think the same way we do and occasionally employ logic. The fact is criminals already tool up as you put it. Even your harmless dope (marijuana) dealer just look at Molinar’s arsenal. It gives them a jump on the rest of us and the poor hapless unarmed Constable who knocks on the door with a search warrant. Armed offenders clearly don’t think rationally, otherwise they wouldn’t be armed offenders. I’m arguing that we need to allow our Police an increased level of protection given the very clear changes in our society. When I go to work I expect to come home again that night and my partner expects to see me. Why we on the left feel that this is an unreasonable expectation for a Police Officer may go some way to explaining why we are currently in opposition.

    • Lew 19.1

      PX, this is just the availability heuristic talking. Jan Molenaar and the events of this week come rapidly and vividly to your mind because they’re highly salient, have been highly propagandised, and you assume they’re typical — or if not typical then representative. They’re neither. Both are statistical outliers; you can tell that they are because they receive such massive volumes of official and public attention. Compare other jurisdictions where only a fraction of actual police murders, let alone attempts, even get reported in the media or commented on by the government. Getting this assessment wrong isn’t really your fault — or anyone’s — it’s just a function of the environment in which we live. People are bad at assessing risk.

      The reality is that society is not changing “very clearly” as you put it. There may be a gradual shift, or the slightly-elevated rate of such incidents recently may be a statistical anomaly. Too soon to tell. The prudent course of action here is to take a precautionary, conservative, measured response derived from public debate and official deliberation. That means no knee-jerkery. That’s all I’m really suggesting. As I say, I’m not altogether opposed to the police having greater access to firearms, but it needs to be a policy decision framed and considered properly, not an ad-hoc populist move based on an emotive response to a highly-publicised near-miss.


  20. Pundit X 20

    Lew, No I have seen first hand very rapid change take place. I lived on one of London’s front lines, All Saints Road Notting Hill for twenty years. There was a lot of dope around and punters would come from all over London to score. It was all very chilled until crack cocaine came along in the eighties. Almost overnight things changed, suddenly big money was involved and with that the appearance of guns. I witnessed two homicides and after giving evidence in one moved out of London. For crack read P and the changes that is bringing to New Zealand including what appears to be a level of organised crime the police and government seem powerless to deal with. Finally someone invented a drug that was as bad as our parents said they were.. As a visitor here since the eighties and now resident I would say change has come and quite rapidly too.

    • Lew 20.1

      Mmmm, gotta love that out-of-country anecdata as a basis for policy change.


      • comedy 20.1.1

        MMMM gotta luv the pomposity of the reply compared to the account of some first hand experience.

        • Lew

          Come on, chap, you think we should be setting national crimefighting policy on the basis of the “I reckons” of someone from London? Why not set it on the basis of experiences from Susan Couch? Harjinder Kaur? Louise Nicholas? Tame Iti? There’s a reason we have deliberative processes in civil society.


          • Pundit X

            Actually Lew I’m an American who married a Kiwi, Lived in London, visited New Zealand regularly since the eighties, and who now lives here. As a photojournalist has seen first hand the effect of gun crime throughout the world. We do have a problem and do need to protect both the public and the police. Looking at the experience of others and the changes taking place in our own society might help. There’s nothing like a touch of xenephobia when you start to lose the argument is there?

            • Lew

              It’s irrelevant who you are or what your country of origin is. No individual and their own subjective experience is a substitute for a good deliberative policy process. That’s what we’re lacking, partly because the discourse is dominated by people saying “OMG, it’s like South Central up in here” without a damned shred of evidence to support that assertion (because no evidence does).


              • QoT

                Why am I reminded of Bill Hicks’ excellent “UK crime: Last night, two Hooligans knocked over a dustbin in Shaftesbury” routine?

  21. Bill 21

    Nobody else seeing the package deal; the increasing of the coercive force of the state while diminishing the agency of citizens?

    Arm the police and give them new powers to prosecute citizens who have knives and air rifles.

    Take away the right to moral imperative as a defence for carrying out unlawful acts.

    Continue to have the msm manufacture a culture of apathy in relation to police shootings and state coercion in general. (Compare the reaction to the shooting of Steven Wallace in 2000 and the shooting of Stephen Bellingham in 2007…or the way the media exonerated the police over the shooting of Halatau Naitoko…someone has been ‘learning lessons’.)

    These things are not necessarily connected in a direct sense, but they are indicative of a trend ( and I’m sure you could add many more items to the very truncated list of examples) that will see any backlash against further inroads of the corporatist agenda that much more muted and difficult. Not that that’s coming any time soon, thanks to the evisceration of the left in NZ.

    • butnahyeahnah 21.1

      So true Bill, so very sadly, true.

    • Draco T Bastard 21.2

      Yep, just what I’ve been thinking. If the police carry guns permanently then do I get to carry one as well to protect myself from them? Because it’s a certainty that I, or someone very much like me, will need to at some point in time if we continue down the Police State road that we’re presently on.

      • comedy 21.2.1

        What are you doing/planning to do that makes you think the police will be shooting you ?

        • felix

          Probably something outrageous. Like refusing to talk to them and walking away.

          • comedy

            I hear they only baton you and perform 30 minutes of frottage for that kind of offence.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Just being a normal citizen who happens to disagree with the way politics is going. They already arrest people who protest and isn’t that much of a stretch to see them using guns to do so.

  22. Jim Nald 22

    I happened to have RNZ on yesterday afternoon and I thought Mary Wilson on Checkpoint conducted a very sharp, probing interview:


    Listen particularly from 2:29 onwards

    Mary: “… but more access to firearms won’t make a blind piece of difference in situations like these. The officer still has to make that judgment”
    Superintendent Dave Cliff (sp?): “They have to make the judgment …”

    • jcuknz 22.1

      What would help would be for the particular drug , I can’t spell the word 🙂 if it was either legal or relatively so as in Colorado where you can use it for medicinal reasons. Then there wouldn’t, well less like to, have been the confrontation that happened here. The occupants of the house would have known they simply had to present their medical certificate instead of the rifle. We would be spared the cost of taking the guy to courst and I guess the subsequent holiday at Her Majesty’s expense, actually at our expense as taxpayers.

      I guess I should mention that I gave up tobacco in 1974 and have not tried any other mind altering substances since. A few years ago I experienced an overdose of painkilling medication following an operation and that made me even more convinced I don’t want to experiment with anything.

  23. Tiger Mountain 23

    Thanks for cheering us up Bill, I have had some similar thoughts too about the increase of state powers and lethal devices. Eventually additional powers and weapons get used, ‘because the cops can’, plus it saves them time from all that boring community liason and negotiating in a tight spot. Just zap’em.

    And who or what will be the targets? Well people that have, or the police consider to have, been involved in unlawful activity (this group includes Fabregas4’s nominations above). But some might be surprised at the attitude a number of cops have towards legitimate protest and resistance actions by otherwise law abiding citizens. The number of times on union pickets I have seen the cops turn up and automatically head into the bosses office. Their default position is “protest bad, shitstirrers’ rather than “how can we help these people exercise their democratic rights safely’.

    Moves such as open arming of the police are being implemented using citizen conerns (legitimate or not) about “criminals, drugs and disorder’, but such citizens may well regret not paying a bit more attention to the issue.

  24. butnahyeahnah 24

    Capcha is dealing so that’s like almost an order from on high for further comment.

    If cannabis was legal none of this would have happened.

    If the police needed search warrants instead of a scratch and sniff test, this would have never have happened.

    If any government of NZ had followed scientifically proven policy in the last couple of decades, this would have never happened.

    • comedy 24.1

      Yes it’s everyone else’s fault apart from the the chap who shot the police dog, shot an officer in the face, shot another officer in the leg and had a stash of unlicensed firearms in his possesion.

      • Butyeahbutnahyeahnah 24.1.1

        No, you don’t seem to be able to read and understand English, Comedy.
        There is a central theme running through that last post which you seem to have missed.
        Will you take me up on my bet above?

        • comedy

          And you don’t seem to appoint the blame where it’s due, most cannabis users/growers are a pretty peaceful mob and not given to shooting people in the face this chap was clearly a thug of the first order.

          And no I don’t believe there’s any point on wagers between pseudonyms on the internet.

          • Butyeahbutnahyeahnah

            Would he have had to hold illegal firearms to protect his crop if it grew wild?

            Would the five O invaded this mans privacy forcing him to defend his liberty if cannabis was legal?

            Would he be able to make living (or support his life style) from the proceeds of selling/growing cannabis if it was legal?

            It’s time to take the blindfold off, this is a crime of prohibition and nothing more.

            Oh, and I will happily email to the Editors proof of my donation to whatever special interest group you like, removing any worries about “psedonym”, all you have to do is man-up and put your money where you mouth is.

            I nominate N.O.R.M.L. as my specail interest group.

            • comedy

              It is not a crime of prohibition it is a crime of shooting someone in the face, someone in the leg and killing a police dog…… your defence of this action as he was only trying to protect his stash doesn’t cut it with me.

              Oh and I have no problem with the decriminalisation and medicinal use of marijuana.

              And I don’t do bets on the internet.

  25. Thomas 25

    The country has spoken overwhelmingly in favour of arming frontline police, according to latest national polls…good logic & common sense seems to have prevailed here, but can that be translated into action from Judith Collins or does she need more!!!! time to think about it…hope another officer or more don’t get shot in the meantime while unarmed & defenceless.
    I have been listening to discussions on this subject this morning on radio live & have honestly heard some of the most idiotic, irrational & illogical callers protesting the idea of arming our frontline police & denying them the tools of trade they obviously need.
    I wonder how some of these people would feel & reaction if they were in the situation of looking down the barrel of a gun while knowing they themselves were unarmed & defenceless.

    • comedy 25.1

      I disagree Thomas I don’t think the public has spoken overwhelmingly, while I am a strong supporter of the police I don’t personally want to see them walking the streets with handguns/rifles as is the case in Australia.USA and most of Europe.

      I’d be comfortable for all police to carry tasers on their person and have access to firearms but that’s just me, what I’d like to see is some more comment in the media from front line officers as they’re the ones with the most to gain/loose in relation to being armed.

    • lprent 25.2

      There is only one poll that counts. The ‘polls’ are not an affirmation of policy – in fact they have zero constitutional effect.

      If the NACT idiots want to put this in policy, then they should make a policy and carry it through for a real poll – the 2011 election.

      Basically you’re a complete fuckwit for even saying that the polls have any relevant meaning

    • fraser 25.3

      “The country has spoken overwhelmingly in favour of arming frontline police, according to latest national polls”

      what poll is that? – might have missed it but all i saw was a tv based self selecting poll – which doesnt count if we are talking evidence

      • Ron 25.3.1

        Probably referring to last night’s Campbell txt in poll. 76% said arm th cops.
        Which is why there is a difference between a democracy and a referrendum.

    • Ron 25.4

      “but can that be translated into action from Judith Collins or does she need more!!!!”

      Yes, mate, she does need more.

      She needs to look at evidence and facts and make a considered decision.

      I don’t have much time for Crusher but at least she’s not making a kneejerk reponse (followed by lots of exclamation marks) and is looking to investigate whether arming police is a good idea.

      That’s the difference between being a bloke down the pub and being a Minister of the Crown.
      Contrary to what some people believe her job is NOT to respond to every stpid idea that comes up (backed by TV polls) but to look at the issues and weigh the facts before making sensible policy.

      • Lew 25.4.1

        Deliberation before action? Making decisions otherwise than on in the immediate aftermath of emotionally-charged and highly-propagandised freak events? Unpossible!


        • Pundit X

          There is nothing freak event about the trend of Kiwi offenders to shoot first when confronted with possible arrest. It is an upward trend. But please don’t take my word for it make an OIA request and find out for yourself. But if the left doesn’t get to grips with the issue ‘sensible sentencing’ will. Offenders with firearms in other OECD countries tend not to want to add attempted or murder of a police officer to their sentences. What you are calling a statistical anomaly when looked at comparatively is a very worrying fact for the New Zealand Police Force.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Lew already pointed you at the facts. The number of people shooting at the police hasn’t changed.

    • jcuknz 25.5

      I don’t doubt that you are correct Thomas about the poll … but the problem is that ‘the public’ is usually pretty simply minded and base their opinions of what they see on TV and read in papers when a few hawks blather on and ignore the common sense of what I and Buty have been writing. If the police hadn’t been required to approach the house then nobody, including the poor unfortunaate dog, would have been shot.

      • Butyeahbutnahyeahnah 25.5.1

        Buty – I like that. Where were you when I was thinkig up a handle?

        [lprent: There is nothing stopping you changing. If you don’t change the e-mail then your identicon will remain the same. ]

    • Joe H 25.6

      The one holding the gun is a policeman dressed in Ninja gear acting like Rambo, Lets hope the smell of my shit scares him I was only walking to da shop no I don’t have ID on me and this little girl is my Grand daughter and I was only stopping her from running out onto the road, when ya shot me cunt.

  26. tsmithfield 26

    I think this is largely a health and safety issue for police. To be fair, it is very easy for us to pontificate on what the police should or should not be allowed to do. However, we are not having to deal with some of the people and situations they face in their line of work.

    I think there are a number of issues that need to be addressed with respect to police health and safety in this respect.

    Firstly, I think the police should have ready availability of firearms. I don’t agree with police carrying firearms. But they should certainly be available in their vehicles. Along with this they need comprehensive and ongoing training in the use of firearms. As the saying goes, one shouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

    Secondly, they should be equipped with bullet proof rather than just knife proof vests.

    Thirdly, they need very high quality intelligence so they are better prepared for situations where guns might need to be carried.

    • Tiger Mountain 26.1

      Smithy, the unlikelihood of your ‘thirdly’ ever being so is one reason some of us are so concerned at full arming of the NZ Police.

    • jcuknz 26.2

      A vest wouldn’t have helped in this situation … head and leg wounds from the reports I’ve heard..
      Apart from the poor dog. The handler must be feeling terrible, quite apart from his own injuries..

    • Joe H 26.3

      I can only laugh at the idea that our police force is “very high quality intelligence so they are better prepared for situations” my experience is they are new youthful or junior on the fount line or older with high stress levels high blood pressure and diabetic, who’s feeling safe now. Supposedly they all are learned in the art of negotiation How is it they get so wrong so many times then.

  27. Thomas 27

    Well comedy I heard 3 former frontline officers voicing their views today & 2 out of 3 were in favour of arming frontline police, the last was from Australia & he said the guns are basically a deterrent in the first instance & the cops with guns are not going to be running around like Wyatt Earp…you can’t take on an elephant with a peashooter.

  28. Thomas 28

    Iprent listen here, the polls are!!! a positive indication & don’t try to tell me otherwise, no question about who the real fuckwit here is.

    • fraser 28.1

      which poll are you talking about? the one from campbell live last night? or close up?

      can you point to an actual statistically sound poll on this subject?

    • Joe H 28.2

      Reveal yourself Thomas are you one of those who wish to run around NZ shooting people as judge and jury, just to save tax payer $. I think you maybe an under achieving Policeman.

  29. Thomas 29

    tshithfield, okay so you think the idea is just to have the arms available in the police vehicles…just in case they might need them.
    So in the recent Christchurch incident do you think that would have worked…like the cop calls at the door of the house, the criminal says ”hang on a minute mate I’ll just go & get my gun”..then the officer replies, okay then just give me a minute & I’ll go out to the car & get mine”

  30. Thomas 30

    So you don’t think that frontline officers should carry firearms all of the time, but just have them available in their vehicles, just in case they might need them eh.
    So lets refer to the recent situation in Christchurch where 2 unarmed officers were effectively shot, & both were wearing bullet proof vests mind you…the criminal hit unprotected areas didn’t he.
    Anyhow would you like to imagine an officer knocking on the door a a house & a criminal opens the door & asks the officer…”Just hang on a minute while I get my gun”….& the officer replies “Okay then I’ll just go out to the car & get mine”

  31. michaeljsavage 31

    If i was a cop – or one of my family was a cop – i would want to have the best means of defending myself. I dont blame them for wanting to be able to defend themselves.

    I dont like the thought of cops carrying guns – when in Aussie its a freakout to see them with pistols on their hips. At Singapore airport for the first time, i remember being freaked out seeing guys with automatic weapons. Its generally foreign to our culture.

    I remember visiting the home of a business colleague – he was a gun collecter. He offered for me to hold a (i think) dirty harry type magnum thingie pistol. I remember feeling physically ill and very insecure holding the thing and couldnt get rid of it quick enough. Im not a pacifist .. but it felt very very bad.

    The thing that really concerns me – is that it might be a little bit like the arms race – arm the cops and the bad guys will arm themselves to compensate. Is it a deterrent …. possibly first time up …. but i think like most wars – it may only escalate the matter.

    Might it not be better to invest in martial arts training of an advanced sort – and also have armed backup to selected instances where there may be deemed to be a chance of armed reaction from people?

    This is no easy one to answer frankly

  32. vto 32

    The more guns there are in existence the more people will die. Simple.

    Unfortunately I suspect that this shooting will be the one to break the camels back. Armed police here we come.

    oh yay

    I’m going back to the boondox

    • Bored 32.1

      Thanks VTO, its really all just a microcosm of the Mutually Assured destruction scenario…my question around this is in reality have the crims become so armed and inclined to use their armament that the police need equivalency?

      Should the case be that the cops do need arming why continue the escalation? Surely we need to foment de escalation? Arm the cops today and I predict more cops will get shot, and we may all end up carrying side arms.

      • comedy 32.1.1

        The cops should completely disarm and while we’re at it get rid of those fast police cars and move them onto mopeds that will be sure to solve the boy racer problems.

        • Joe H

          So true, the boy racers will be solved when NZ legislates to have under25’s drive lesser powered cars. Oops those cops in fast cars are under 25 think about it they drive like manic boy racers too but with flashing lights.

  33. randal 33

    much of the crime committed in new zealand is pointless and random and wrecks people and their lives for not very much.
    dont give the cops guns.
    give them canes like in pakistan and India so they can dish out some random pointless summary justice and claw back some respect from the nincompoops who dont care about who they hurt or what the outcome of their actions nad rely on teh justic industry to watrerdown and ameliorate the seriousnees of their crummy beahviour.

  34. Seti 34

    The police currently cannot set effective cordons, nor enter the scene of aggravated robberies because of insufficient access to firearms. They must wait for a supervisor or CIB car to arrive, which is seldom soon enough to contain the offenders. This was one reason Navtej Singh bled to death on the floor of his liquor store. Since agg robs are almost a daily occurence for this reason alone all police incident and traffic cars should be equipped with firearms.

    And on the odd occasion when someone runs amok, ala David Grey, Raoul Moat, Martin Bryant, et al I want the first cop on the scene to negate that threat, not sprinting ahead of me to safety.

    • loota 34.1

      I’m uncertain here: are you saying that having a couple of standard coppers be able to pull out guns on the spot in order to immediately enter the scene of an aggravated robbery is going to save lives or cost lives (maybe their own)?

      And you are saying that in a David Grey situation, a standard copper with no actual operational firearms experience pulling up and pulling out a .223 out of the boot is going to help the situation and not increase the risks to himself and to bystanders?

      Methinks the situation is a bit more complex than you are portraying.

    • Joe H 34.2

      Doo even when the guns arrived they let him bleed, let the peasants die us coppers gotta look after or safety 1st fuck the public Die dam you die.

  35. Thomas 35

    Seeing cops with pistols on their hips makes me feel secure & safe, law abiding citizens generally have no worries.
    You say that arming the police might lead to an arms race with the crims arming to compensate, possible to some degree but many of the crims & drug dealers are already well & heavily armed already anyway, not only to repel the police but due to crims & druggies in other gangs etc. & skilling the police in martial arts would never be any matched for a crim presenting a firearm.
    You are also right in saying that there is no ‘easy’answer, & although it may not be ‘easy’ for the powers that be to say yes to arming our frontline police, that is what they need to do.

    • Joe H 35.1

      ‘law abiding citizens generally have no worries.’ When the guns are being fired no ones generally safe I ‘m sure Halatau felt safe when brought to a halt by police action, I’m sure those in the cars around him felt safe too when shots where being fired, I’m sure all NZ generally had ,has no worries that innocents are being shot and killed. Righteous Law and Government will always be underarmed against those that oppose it, it is how and why the law is respected. If the police want respect then it needs to stop its own bully boy wants and work with what it has. I myself have stopped my association with many a policeman or woman in a social setting as they tend to act as the spoiled brat, and bully. If they can be that at the local running club or swimming pool when not on duty who needs to know them in any other official setting. Of course my views tend to be a bit more liberal than theres, just another thing that seems to make them rant.

  36. loota 36

    Seeing cops with pistols makes you feel safe and secure?

    You’re into the illusion of safety versus actual safety, then?

    The police have tasers and pepper spray now, they did not have these powerful weapons just five or six years ago, now you want even more.

    Would seeing cops with automatic weapons, like they have in Thailand or the UK make you feel even more secure? Why should we not have police officers routinely armed with MP5’s or AR15’s like they do throughout Europe and the Americas? Or are you going to start pushing for that in a few years’ time when its shown that arming every officer with glocks and .223s aren’t making us any safer.

    And one more question – you have seen the list of innocent people who have been killed by police firearms, yes? Some of them killed by police on specialist firearms squads? Do you really think that a rank and file officer with minimal firearms training and experience who is not on one of those specialist squads but has a gun is really going to keep you safer?

    Police already have much greater access to weapons than they did a few years ago. Lets consider further increases very cautiously.

    • comedy 36.1

      I’ve only seen one innocent person killed by police firearms in the lists above and that was the armed offenders incident.

  37. Thomas 37

    Police with pistols, as well as having the tools to protect themselves would be more able to protect law abiding citizens like myself, especially if under violent assault from weapons or knives etc.
    I don’t think we can ‘yet’ quite compare ourselves with places like Thailand, the UK, Europe or the Americas so let’s not get excited about the imminent possibility of police here routinely arming with automatic weapons, the smaller arms on the hips are what’s needed now, & let’s also not worry about what the situation will be in another 5-6 years, we may still find that the glocks & .223’s are adequate then.
    Maybe the police might have greater access to weapons than a few years ago, but apparently not enough given the recent situation in Christchurch.

    • loota 37.1

      So tell me Thomas, why did the police not have time to draw their tasers to incapacitate their firearm wielding assailent in Chch? That’s right they had left their tasers in the car. Along with the police firearms which were also in their car.

      So not having greater access to weapons is irrelevant, they had additional weapons right there in their own police vehicle.

    • Joe H 37.2

      Thomas I think you should seriously think about changing your associates if they carry weapons and knifes. The law abiding citizen is unlikely to ever to met this crazed criminal you are so desperate to protect us from. Truth though many of us are likely to fall victims to members of our own families or neighbours. In these horrid incidents present police procedures work well. It is unfortunate that there will and always has been mad killers out there and the best preparations and plans will not stop them. It is the life that this killer will kill not just innocent victim but that that victim may be Police person to. It is why soldiers serve and police protect, it is what makes hero’s and young men and women love. It is life’s passion. In truth Thomas you may be policeman but also coward.

  38. Thomas 38

    You seem to have destroyed your own argument here in saying that the police did not have time to draw their tasers in the recent Christchurch incident, as they had left their tasers in the car along with their firearms, when I have been arguing they should be readily armed when approaching these situations…guns on hips as well as tasers if you like.

  39. William Joyce 39

    We must be on guard against the coercive powers of the state.
    All over the world police forces are becoming paramilitary units. Usually under the guise of some necessitating pretext – “more armed crims” or “an immanent terrorist threat”. One can’t help but wonder if there is not a “constabulary-industrial complex” not unlike the military-industrial complex. Boys who want toys and the people who enable them.

    That’s not to say that there is not a need to protect those who serve. We owe such a debt to those take up the role of enforcing the rules we set. We play in the playground and they watch the fences.

    But it is not in our interests to give them carte blanche.

    What sort of country do we want to live in?

    I do not want to live in a “gun-culture’.

    1. That means that people do not have the right to bear arms. I would rather that it was a privilege given to those who are proven/qualified to be responsible users, proportional power to their needs and with in set limits of use, storage etc. This requires restrictions on ownership, sale and type. But this needs to be enforced. We are quite lax in this area. (My brother had been living out of the country for 15 years before the police came looking for him to see if he still needed his license!).
    OMG, slug-guns that have the firepower of bullet based weapons. Who the hell fell asleep at the switch to allow them to be sold without restrictions? Customs, police, cabinet?

    2. License the owner AND the weapon. Yes, this is a big task and has been in the too hard basket. That’s why succeeding governments have been content to license only the owner. It’s cheaper.

    3. The police use an escalating scale of response to an incident. We want to put as much distance between the incident and resorting to firearms. Once firearms are resorted to (by either party) then a whole new set of rules apply. (Too big to discuss here – I have written on this at http://bierkeller.blogspot.com/2008/10/police-shooting-of-woman-in-whangarei.html)

    This is achieved by making it less likely that either party resorts to firearms. Restrictions as outlined above and barriers to easy access for the police. We don’t need them to be more accessible. Resorting to firearms in our police culture should considered, unhurried and by well trained professionals. Not in the hands of some hormonally-charge, pimply-faced recent graduate from police college because the experienced and seasoned have perf’ed off to Queensland.

    That means that there is a grey area between the extremes of no armed police and armed police. It is in this grey area that the greatest amount fluidity occurs, the greatest amount of wisdom and training is required but that the risk occurs a risk that cannot be eliminated only managed.

    If our goal is to resist becoming a gun-culture then we also have to accept that police may get hurt and some will be killed. Whichever way we go, this will always be a risk to the police as long as there are firearms in the community. It only takes one licensed or illegal.

    If the statistics change and the risk increases then go after the guns (ruthlessly) before arming the police.

    3. That leaves the problem of the illegal weapons. We have to accept that there will always be illegal weapons. All we can hope for is a sinking lid approach by ensuring security of those that exist for genuine owners, restriction of those available (less outlets, less weapons, greater license checks)

    To do all this requires political will and adequate resources (funding & personnel). It is easier to live in the black and white world of the extremes, of the cheap solution, than to manage risk.

    We have to resist the temptation to live in the extremes, to develop policy on the back of overreaction, ratings-driven manufactured hype of what may be statistically anomalous events, or the pooling of collective ignorance by talkback callers.
    (Mental Health Warning: never listen to talkback in the early hours the level of irrationality will drive you nuts!)

    It’s time that policy in New Zealand was tempered by the advise from science group(s) set up to advise government – social scientists, statisticians, ethicists etc etc. Not ad hoc TV3 polling or talkback outrage.

  40. Thomas 40

    I really do wonder though if the so-called scientists, statisticians & ethicists etc can always get it right on these matters, can they always make rational decisions, I mean think it through in their own minds rather than lose themselves in all the mind-boggling data they have in front of them.
    The recent Christchurch incident where 2 unarmed policemen & a police dog were shot tells me the police need the tools to respond, but not sitting in their cars though.
    It might be different if it was a situation that could not happen again, but it can & will…so bully to to the statisticians, but I suppose these people have to try & justify their salaries somehow.

    • loota 40.1

      I think the investigation into the incident will probably reveal several areas completely unrelated to weapons access that officers could improve upon in future, changes which may have ameliorated the negative outcomes of this particular incident.

    • William Joyce 40.2

      The scene commander stated on TV3 and Prime that it would not have made a difference if the officers were armed.
      Surprisingly, Broad and Collins, within hours, said that this was an example of why they need to make firearms “more accessible” to police and that this had been in the pipeline for some time.

  41. Thomas 41

    Well that’s a new angle to your line of debate eh, sounds like a lost argument to me & I’m not really buying it, but nothing will detract from the logic of arming the police….nothing much more they could have done in the way the police approached that house apart from phoning the occupants to say they were on their way….with guns in the car just in case.

  42. Thomas 42

    It seems like Judith Collins & Howard Broad have been listening to me, common sense has prevailed.

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