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Should the Police Be Armed?

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  • Pages: 5
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  • Category: Police

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There have been quite a lot of controversies over the issue whether the police should be armed or not. Nowadays, police officers in most of the countries are armed when they are patrolling. However, police officers in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Falkland Island and Norway are literally unarmed, except for those who are committed in airport security and anti-terrorism work. In countries such as China, the United States and Russia, the media often adduce issues on power abuse and misuse of authority by the police. Hence, people tend to call for a reduction in police’s reliance on force technologies. Nevertheless, in a rapidly changing society, where heavy crimes and terrorism remain pressing issues, people have different perspectives on this matter. The objective of this concern is to find out the advantages and disadvantages of arming the police and I will highlight in favor or against it in my conclusion.

Five weeks ago, there were two female police officers being killed after being seduced to check on a bogus burglary at a house in Manchester. After this incident, Toy Rayner, the former chairman of Essex Police Federation said, “How many have to die before arming is considered?” Even film director Michael Winner, founder of the Police Memorial Trust made a point on the importance of arming police officers in the United Kingdom. If the two police officers were armed, they might have had the ability to defeat the offender and the tragedy would not have happened. Self-protection is essential for police officers and arming is surely one way to enhance it.

Police officers have to deal with dangerous offenders occasionally. If they are not armed, undesirable and dangerous situations may result. On the other hand, with armaments, they can protect themselves. According to ‘Gun crime doubles in a decade’ (Whitehead, 2009) and ‘Gun crime trembles as weapons and drugs flood British’ (Bamber, 2002), gun crimes almost double in the decade to 2008, while the rise in London gun crimes has tripled. Something must be done to equip the police for this. Countries with police unarmed are also more likely to be threatened as they may be seen as relatively feeble. In other words, crimes are more likely.

There was once an online survey about this issue being held and almost 80% people agreed that the police should be armed. They believe that it can both secure the public and the police officers. Besides, society has ruled that firearms are the most effective ways of protection. The public will feel safer when they see armed policemen, as they know that efficient and effective help will be offered if they are in danger.

Meanwhile, there are gangs in every society. They may always involve in violence and fights. An armed police force can intimidate them so that authority can be imposed easily. As there is a rise in gun ownership, risks to the frontline police officers have increased. The police should have the right to exercise self-protection. The number of injuries and deaths of the police caused in crimes is likely to decline they are able to equip themselves better. People should cite it as a means of self-defense instead of an active involvement in violence. This is shown by the fact that most armed police officers have never fired their weapons throughout their term of service referring to ‘Q&A: Armed police in the UK’. If being a policeman is a safer, people will have a higher incentive to apply for this occupation, and, in turn, Society will be safer with a larger and stronger police force.

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks of arming the police. The public often criticizes police officers for abusing their power to exert violence on unarmed civilians. Oliver Sprague, the Amnesty International’s Arm Programme Director, said once, “We are worried that this could be the start of a slippery slope – towards further arming of the police, or towards a situation like that in the US where Tasers have been widely misused and people have died.” (Taylor, 2007) Cases police officers abusing their authority towards inappropriate target, assaulting and harassing citizens are presented in the article of ‘Police officers and abuse of powers: the list’ (Laville, 2012). Moreover, when the police are being armed, they may become overconfident and narcissistic. Some of the police are truly malicious and may use their guns to terrorize civilians. For instance, in 2006, Tsui Po-ko, who was a police officer in Hong Kong had committed a number of serious offences, including murders and bank robbery.

Furthermore, accidental errors may occur when the police are armed. Although there are exhaustive trainings for firearms officers, aberration may still happen. This will take innocent lives, either intentionally or unintentionally. From the book ‘Shooting to Kill: Policing, Firearms and armed response’, there are a number of cases of mistaken police shootings. Last but not least, introducing guns on the street may increase the number of crimes, as it can be a trigger for gangs to bring guns onto the street.

In conclusion, although there are some drawbacks of arming the police, considering its advantages, I still believe in this proposition. Just imagine if you are being plundered, will you hope the police officer to chase after the plunder holding nothing but a baton? No, you will not, because you know without a gun, he has not the slightest chance to stop or even intimidate him. Besides, it is nonsense to expect survival in a gunfight without any armaments. The job of a police officer is very hazardous. From one moment to the next, he does not know what will occur. They risk their lives to protect us and they should have the right to protect themselves. With frequent firearms training and examination on mental conditions, the misuse of weapons can be avoided. As people often say, “Prevention is always better than cure.”


[ 1 ]. Whitehead, T. (2012, September). Police should be routinely armed in wake of latest tragedy, say campaigners. The Telegraph. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9551667/Police-should-be-routinely-armed-in-wake-of-latest-tragedy-say-campaigners.html [ 2 ]. Whitehead, T. (2009, October). Gun crime doubles in a decade. The Telegraph. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6438601/Gun-crime-doubles-in-a-decade.html [ 3 ]. Bamber, D. (2002, February). Gun crime trebles as weapons and drugs flood British cities. The Telegraph. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from

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