TOPIC: Should police carry guns in New Zealand?
MAIN CLAIM: Police should not carry guns.
With all the recent tragedies related to police brutality and police corruption is it really okay for police officers to be carrying guns? Police brutality can be described by the Law Dictionary as the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. Currently in New Zealand police do not carry guns but there have been discussions among people about changing this. Instances such as the shocking assault on Waiouru highway patrol officer Bruce Mellor have the community talking about the need for frontline police officers to have access to firearms. Despite this, police carrying guns would most certainly contribute to a more violent culture within New Zealand. If police officers don’t have guns, then they can’t use firearms against citizens. Also, police can’t have their own guns used against them.
The use and easy access of guns by the police and citizens definitely contributes to a stronger culture of violence and more violent crimes. For example in the Americas alone, the homicide rate by use of firearms is 66% compared to any other type of homicide mechanism. A police officer’s job is to maintain order and keep the peace within a community. Police are a community service and should be treated as such, they are not the military and do not have the important training needed in order to make a life or death decision. In fact, countries where the police don’t carry guns have a better police- public relations and lower gun crime. In the USA alone this year there has been 569 people killed by the US police, this is astonishing. It seems that these police officers are so eager to defend themselves rather than attempt to de-escalate the hostile situations they are placed in. As a community we should feel protected by our police forces not worried that they will turn against us. In order to do this gun control needs to be taken extremely serious and police need to turn to other, less deadly tactics.
In America especially, protests and anger revolving around the current police tactics have provoked discussions around the ins and outs of policing in the US. This is a non-issue in countries such as England, Ireland, and New Zealand where police officers do not carry firearms. In Manchester, England for example, there have only been 2 instances of a citizen being shot by a police officer in the last 40 years. The chief constable of the greater Manchester police has stated, “The whole way that we train officers is that the absolute last resort is to use your firearm. When you get into a situation, you assess the situation, you give yourself other options. And it starts from a position, always, that the best weapon is their mouth.” This is an extremely important point. It is crucial that police can think of and turn to other options to help the situation, rather than go straight toward the most deadliest solution.
Apprehending a suspected criminal does not have to be so violent and dangerous. In Iceland police officers do not carry firearms even though it is legal for their citizens to carry them, yet still there is less violence. Even in places like Norway gun violence is decreased because police officers do not carry guns on their person but instead in their vehicle. Outcomes that end so violently and often in death are definitely avoidable. According to to thinkprogress.com, in 2015 alone and within the 31 days of March more people were killed by police in the US than people killed in the UK over the entire 20th century. These statistics are crazy. An obvious factor that can influence such drastic findings is that citizens in most countries where police carry guns, and especially in America with it’s lenient gun owning laws, citizens can also carry or own a firearm. Still, this much violence is definitely avoidable and there many other tactics police can use to de-esculate any extreme situations. Like I stated before, in Iceland the police do not carry guns even though it’s citizens are able to. Despite this, gun violence is decreased. To me it seems that the influence of the police not carrying guns is beneficial for the community and contributes to a more peaceful culture.
Living in a peaceful and non violent society is important for every person’s wellbeing. One major step that can be taken to achieve this is to find as many ways as possible to decrease gun violence all around the world. Although it is difficult to find a common ground on such a complicated topic, it is clear that the excessive use of guns, in America especially, is extremely damaging and encourages a level of violence in society that is not necessary. Luckily in New Zealand, our police force has the right idea which has been proven by many statistics related to police – public relations. Overall, there are many reasons why the police here in New Zealand should continue to not carry guns, with the safety of our people being the number one reason. Hopefully, this will influence countries around the world.