Darroch Ball
Sensible Sentencing Trust.

The only difference between someone who is in favour of arming police and someone who isn’t is the situation they are in when you ask them the question. I hazard a guess, their minds would be changed if a gang member pointed a gun in their face during a carjacking, or if their son or daughter had to pull over a gang member’s car during a routine traffic stop carrying only a taser and being shot at with an AK47 – just like Matthew Hunt did.

The unfortunate reality is that our police officers are dealing with those kinds of ‘situations’ on a daily basis now. 

In conversations, I’ve had with the president of the Police Association Chris Cahill he told me that ten or twenty years ago the main issue for officers was the increasing use of knives being pulled on them. Over the past few years, the number of firearms being pointed at them was going through the roof.  Most of these incidents went unreported.

It is only now that the public is seeing the end result of a lot of apathy and inaction from successive governments. Not only are firearms being pointed at officers but the triggers are now being pulled. It might seem to some that a strange switch has been flicked and all of a sudden we are seeing shootings nearly every week – but this has been an inevitable and obvious outcome to anyone who had being paying attention all those years ago.

There is a big difference between wanting police to carry weapons and police needing to carry weapons.

Numbers of assaults on officers, firearms being presented and pointed at officers, and firearms being discharged at officers have all gone through the roof.  And now members of the public are being pulled into this mess more and more. 

The fact of the matter is that our frontline cops are now so far behind the threat level they are facing that they can no longer effectively do their job. The equipment they carry and wear has not materially changed in the decade since it was knives that were the problem. I’m surprised WorkSafe haven’t stepped in already.

Cahill recently said that officers are increasingly feeling unsafe on the job. How can they do their job properly if they are feeling unsafe? Seventy per cent of them feel they need to be armed. So who is resisting and why?

This is now a matter of giving them the equipment they need to protect themselves and protect the community – not some ideologically driven debate it might have been a decade ago. Our cops are being shot at and they are being killed. One of the reasons these coward criminals shoot at police is because they know they have no ability to shoot back. 

Will it stop all the shootings we are seeing in our communities? Probably not. But we need to understand that we have already crossed that Rubicon. There is no going back – not even a gun register or asking gangs politely to hand their illegal guns back will reverse this trend. 

Our police need to be able to do their job with confidence and certainty. That means not only being permanently armed but being properly trained to handle those weapons too. They need more numbers on the frontline, more resources, and they need specific anti-gang units.

Labour is in total rigor mortis when it comes to gangs and the increase in firearms incidents. They think that announcing another reactive ‘drug and weapons bust’ is them coming down hard on gangs – newsflash, it’s not, it’s just called enforcing the current law.

No one in New Zealand wants our country to be in a position where our police need to be armed. But the reality is that they now need to be. 

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We Need to Arm Our Police – There Is No Going Back.
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