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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Should UK police carry guns?
Rising gun crimes have meant that in one part of the UK police officers are routinely wearing firearms while on foot patrol.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Nottinghamshire police took the decision after a series of shootings on two of the city's estates, sparked by rival gangs of drug dealers.
The police say the break from tradition is about stopping gun violence becoming the norm, and preventing murder.
But does the UK's police force really need to be armed? Will this measure combat violence on the streets? Or are the more traditional unarmed 'Bobbies on the beat' more effective in controlling gun crimes?
David Norsworthy, Texas, USA
The deterrent argument is the same pathetic one used by the likes of the NRA. Do people over here actually think that in those countries that have armed police, crime involving weapons is less? There is no such thing as a deterrent to crime, just preventative measures.
Yes, they should carry guns.
I wonder what the statistics are on how many armed robbers in the US actually use their guns as opposed to over here. I should imagine that a greater number of US criminals feel "compelled" to use their guns as they know they face police officers who would much rather shoot them than arrest them.
Our forces are trained in the use of firearms, many having served in Peacekeeping missions and are mature enough to know what they are handling. There is no reason our police are not. Take the war to the criminals do not let them take it to us. Why should the criminals have all the sayż it is time our police were given the authority and ability to fight back. Society must change its views and stop being soft on crime.
Martin Cox, UK
Not all police should be issued guns as my experience of some officers has been that they are just legalised bullies. Only selected and outstanding officers should be offered the chance to carry side arms. Not only should they show skill in its use but show impeccable integrity and have the correct attitude of what a police officer should do and be. You might find a few of them like this out there ... not many.
Many criminals carry guns now and are unafraid to do so due to the PATHETIC sentences handed out to criminals in general. I think that if you are intent on carrying a gun, then it is not unreasonable to expect to face armed police and maybe get shot dead. You carry a gun, you know the risks involved. The police would look laughable going up against an armed gang with a whistle and a baton!!!
As for the old argument, that Police carrying firearms will lead to more shootings and accidental deaths, if Police follow procedures there shouldn't be a problem. If they don't follow procedures then they are accountable for their actions, and bound by the Law's of Britain. In my opinion, Nottinghamshire officers have taken the right course of action.
Lee Shephard, UK
Of course the police should be armed. Not only can they defend themselves when defending the citizens but we are not allowed to defend ourselves any more. The criminals have all the rights and the law-abiders have none. Give all the police guns and then perhaps we could have a bit more peace in the country.
Yes, it is a move in the right direction that the police have reclaimed their basic human right to self-defence. Now how about the rest of us, or will the police continue to stop everyone else from defending themselves against criminals?
Guns made America great. The first thing we did when we freed ourselves from the tyranny of King George, is install the Bill of Rights. The 2nd Amendment gave us the right to bear arms so that we wouldn't be oppressed by a government that might suppress liberty.... like nationalising industries...stuff like that. It has worked pretty good so far!
Why does the government continue to believe banning things works? Ban bombs, they still get used. Criminals are those people who do not obey the law, so banning something tends to mean the criminals wind up being the only possessor. The pointless bans on many things should be repealed, the right to use force should be given back to the people, and thus reducing the power of both the criminal and the need for police.
We here in Switzerland have 20 million guns and 7 million citizens.. our homicide rate is LESS than in the UK!
Our Police is armed so are the law abiding citizens.
Maybe you guys and gals in the UK are just not mature enough?
Andy Stratt, UK
Its not surprising that UK criminals use guns more and more, knowing that citizens have been unarmed and most police are too. British people have a funny idea that if you make something illegal it just vanishes! Pandora's box was opened centuries ago and you can't close it now. The police are just catching up with reality.
Tony Hague, UK
If the police can have guns to protect themselves from dangerous criminals, can we have guns too, to protect ourselves from dangerous police officers?
I am very proud of the fact that British Police officers, in the main, are not armed. The British Police should not assist in the escalation of firearm usage, which of course is the obvious knock-on effect. The British have always been more tolerant when considering individual freedoms, which makes us different. Lets not join the arms club, we don't need it.
If a criminal has a gun he is going to use one anyway, not wait for a piece of legislation to be passed. People are going to be less likely to tackle a Police Officer with a gun than one with a US Issued Truncheon. I worry what Planet some of you are from.
No, they shouldn't be armed. Here in Australia where the police do carry sidearms there are numerous fatal incidents every year where nervous police shoot dead offenders who are armed with knives, axes, sticks and stones and the like. The majority of these people could have been handled without the use of lethal force had the police not had easy and immediate access to firearms. Many times I have thought that if we had had a British Bobby on hand many of these often ordinary people displaying temporary antisocial actions would still be alive and back with their families.
Margaret Carre, UK in Belgium
I do not think it a bad idea to arm police. After all, why should they be defenceless against an armed criminal with their lives at risk? No job is worth that. However, the governing problem here is deterrent. Armed police will not achieve this. Let us face the facts.... the only deterrent is fixed, non-negotiable life sentences and the death penalty as the final nail in the coffin.
"IF guns are outlawed,
ONLY outlaws will have guns."
The Meadows estate (one of the two where the armed officers patrol) is opposite my office. The more the police deal with the criminal low life that infests parts of this estate the better.
Hugh Davidson, UK
Wake up Brits! You've abdicated your rights to self-defence by giving your firearms to the crown. Now only the criminal element have firearms and you're defenceless against them. Now you expect the Police to protect you without giving them the means to do so. I say you get what you deserve for abdicating your rights. Good Luck!
In the US where gun ownership is almost universal the crime rate appears to be steadily falling. In the UK where you're not even allowed to shout too loudly at a criminal, crime is steadily increasing. Perhaps arming our police and citizens might just provide that critical deterrent to crime.
Of course police should carry guns.
Over here they need war type of weapons because the
criminals have better guns then the police. Come on I can't believe you
don't let the police carry weapons to defend themselves. You can't be
that far behind.
Craig Karp, Texas
As a police officer at one time I carried a gun every day. The continuation training was appalling, almost non-existent. In many cases now it hasn't improved.
Personally I would like to see more armed coppers around but until proper and efficient training packages and venues are created it shouldn't happen.
It all comes down to a matter of personal responsibility on each officer's behalf. We have seen far too many people killed by the police in situations that may well have been talked down (i.e. offenders with toy guns). My concern is that there are too many officers out there who will start to feel like John Wayne and get a little trigger-happy. I agree with 'Kate' that guns should remain in the minority. After all the corruption in the Met in recent years are we now to trust them with guns?
I grew up in the UK and I now live in the US. The gun situation here is verging on the insane. I believe that to arm "bobbies" would indeed be an escalation of an already deadly problem. If they are armed then why would criminals want to match them? This is a never-ending cycle. It keeps getting worse.
I have always been proud of the fact that guns are not a part of the culture in the UK. Equipping all policemen with firearms is only asking for the kind of spiral of violence that I witness here in the States every week.
The wearing of firearms by British police officers in one part of the UK is a move in the right direction, coming as it does when unarmed "bobbies on the beat" have not always been able to check the growing armed crimes. It will certainly be a deterrent. This decision will help the law and order machinery curb gun violence, murder and other crimes. The streets will now be a safer place.
The police officers should, however, exercise extreme care and use the weapon sparingly, only when there is a genuine threat to the lives of the citizens. A situation should not arise when the protectors of the law turn trigger happy!
Where I live, I have more chance of seeing Elvis coming down the road towards me than a policeman on foot, armed or otherwise!
Surely this is a bad move. If the police carry firearms, then others will also feel the need and this will lead to an escalation in the prevalence of weapons on the street. I have visited many countries where the police are armed as a matter of course and I genuinely feel that those officers are less approachable because they carry a sidearm. You just don't feel as comfortable speaking to someone - no matter who they are - when you know they hold the power of life and death in their hands.
Graeme Miller, England
It is interesting to note that the Government's pledge to rid the county of legal handguns to make our land a safer place has actually resulted in an increase in gun crime. Will the PM now admit his error?
I can only agree with what has been said here already. Tougher control of firearms needs to be promoted and maintained. A serious reduction in black market and unlicensed weapons is needed to clamp down on an escalation in gun crime.
Peter Haslett, Australia
We are now seeing an armed police force in the UK 'by the back door'. Surely Parliament is the only place to decide if the British 'Bobby' should be armed?
The Police seem to believe they can operate outside the rules which govern the rest of the country.
Ironic isn't it? The Government spends millions in
compensation for the confiscation of
thousands of legally-held hand-guns, on
the basis that this will prevent a recurrence
of Hungerford or Dunblanbe and thus make the
Now they plan to arm themselves anyway, why?
Surely the streets are safe????
NO. It wouldn't be a deterrent, it would be an escalation. However, I do believe that there should be an armed and highly trained response unit in touching distance of all areas - pretty much as there is now.
22 Oct 00 | UK
'Armed' police on the beat
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