Saturday, March 21, 2015

No Guns for Cops

Just watched a video of a cop shooting dead a mentally ill black person who wouldn't put down a screwdriver.

And I've read all the predictable defenses. "Hey, a screwdriver can be deadly"!  "If you don't do what a cop tells you to, expect to get killed" blah, blah. ( I guess the implication of this line of reasoning is that  mentally ill people deserve to die.)

How about this as an alternative? No guns for cops. Or at least they don't get to carry them on a regular basis.

No, it's not a crazy idea.  Other countries do this, including  Britain and New Zealand

  And no, it does not result in a rush to murder cops.  Why not? At least two reasons. First, the police do have other kinds of weapons to deal with threats (such as tasers). Second, and perhaps most significantly, there are very strict gun controls.   So the police are safer.

And how do the police feel about this? Turns out, they are overwhelmingly in favor of staying unarmed.

Of course, in American, a common argument against gun control is that, in its absence, the government will use military force against its citizens.  And yet, in Britain, it is this same concern that led to an unarmed police force. According to the BBC:

"When Robert Peel formed the Metropolitan Police there was a very strong fear of the military - the masses feared the new force would be oppressive."

  So, you see, there is more than one way to address concerns about a militarized police oppressing its citizens.  One is to arm the citizens, and the other is to disarm the police.

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