The air-waves and cyber-waves are fair buzzing with the debate on whether or not ‘to arm our police’. Everybody and his maiden aunt has a definitive view.
On Sunday morning, the BBC fielded its usual ‘balanced panel’ to discuss the matter. We had Mohammed Anzar, described as not just a social media commentator, but ‘a Muslim social media commentator’; a genuine Mus-i-Twit, or should that be Mus-i-twat? Douglas Murray – you’re waiting for me to say ‘a Christian social media commentator’, but no such luck, Douglas is Director of a non-partisan think tank, which promotes human rights, tolerance and greater cohesion among the UK’s ethnic and religious communities, and the well known ‘shock-jock’ John Gaunt. Dotted around on various video screens were more talking heads – and not one policeman.
The debate flowed this way and that – we must remember the number of people in the USA who have been shot because policemen have guns (let’s not mention Pakistan, eh); de Meneses, Hillsborough, policing by consent, increasing the number of guns on the street, every well worn cliche that has been trotted out on every blog. What everyone was agreed on was that ‘the police themselves don’t want to be armed’. That they were all quite sure of.
All present could correctly quote the 82 percentage of police who had said they didn’t want to be routinely armed. Nobody wanted to mention when that poll was carried out. So I had to look it up.
2006. Six years ago. Isn’t it about time someone asked the police themselves what they think? They might have changed their minds in the meantime. Enough has happened since 2006.
Personally I can’t see what all the fuss is about – I live in a country where all the police are armed; we don’t have mass shoot outs in the street as a daily occurrence – nor do we have officers in padded teddy bear suits waddling between Panda car and street disturbance. We have some exceptionally good looking girls and men in thin summer shirts and excruciatingly well cut trousers who happen to have a gun in a holster. If we are stopped driving our cars, we don’t have to get out with our hands above our heads and stand spreadeagled over the bonnet; we are politely approached and asked to produce our documents – exactly the same as in England. We share tables with them in the local cafe for lunch and don’t shiver with fear. I’ll grant you that the CRS are a different kettle of fish; if they appear we vanish as fast as possible – we know damn well that if you throw rocks at them or petrol bombs you are liable to get shot. Nobody takes the piss out of the CRS.
It’s all very well asking the Muslim Twitter head what he thinks, those who are financed by shady think tanks can fret about the human rights of ‘victims’ all they want, shock-jocks can court popular opinion till their ratings go sky high; I don’t see how there can be any debate before asking the police.
If they chose to be unarmed, we cannot force officers to stay in post if we insist they are armed. If they chose to be armed, we can have a debate about whether we agree to be policed like that. Perhaps we don’t, and we will run the risk of the police leaving the force in droves.
What we cannot do is make a decision and then force it on them.
They are the people who have to daily face the scum who live by the gun – their’s should be the first opinion, the most informed opinion, sought. Until that happens, I suggest the rest of us retreat to our armchairs and play solitaire or something.
Go on, ask a policeman!