Saturday, February 25, 2012

Firearm Usage by Police in the United Kingdom



Police use of firearms in the United Kingdom has been a slow, controversial[4] and developing process as senior officers wanted their forces to still have the "British Bobby" or Dixon of Dock Green effect on the community.[4] During the Second World Warfirearms were only carried while protecting 10 Downing Street and the Royal Family, but police were given many firearms in case of invasion.[4] They were never taken on general patrol, partly because a revolver was usually issued without a holster,[4] as holsters were in short supply because of the war.[4]Training for the Webley & Scott Revolvers usually consisted of firing six shots and to pass, it was required that three shots had to be on target although loading of the actual weapon was not taught.[4] In 1948, after the Second World War Concerns were aired by the Home Officeof the police forces role of another war or nuclear attack,[4] to combat this it was decided that some of the forces would be loaned Sten Gunsby the Ministry of Defence and a number of Lee Enfield No4 Mk 2s. These, along with revolvers and ammunition, were kept in secret depots around the United Kingdom so every force had the weapons close and could get access to them when and if the time should come.[4]
Historically, officers on night patrols in some London divisions were frequently armed with Webley revolvers. These were introduced following the murder of two officers in 1884, although individual officers were able to choose whether to carry the weapons. Armed police were rare by the turn of the century, and were retired formally in July 1936. Although, after the Battle of Stepney in 1911, Webley semi-automatics were issued to officers. From the 1936 date on, firearms could only be issued by a Sergeant with good reason, and only then to officers who had been trained in their usage.
The issue of routine arming was raised after the 1952 Derek Bentley case, in which a Constable was shot dead and a Sergeant severely wounded, and again after the 1966 Massacre of Braybrook Street, in which three London officers were killed. As a result, around 17% of officers in London became authorised to carry firearms. After the deaths of a number of members of the public in the 1980s fired upon by police, control was considerably tightened, many officers had their firearm authorisation revoked, and training for the remainder was greatly improved. As of 2005, around seven per cent of officers in London are trained in the use of firearms. Firearms are also only issued to an officer under strict guidelines.[5]
In order to allow armed officers to respond rapidly to an incident, most forces have patrolling Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs). ARVs were modelled on the Instant Response Cars introduced by the West Yorkshire Police in 1976, and were first introduced in London in 1991, with 132 armed deployments being made that year.
Although largely attributable to a significant increase in the use of imitation firearms and air weapons,[6] the overall increase in firearms crime between 1998/99 and 2002/03[6] (it has been decreasing since 2003/04, although use of imitations continued to rise)[6] has kept this issue in the spotlight. In October 2000, Nottinghamshire Police introduced regular armed patrols to the St Ann's and Meadows estates in Nottingham, in response to fourteen drug-related shootings in the two areas in the previous year.[7] Although the measure was not intended to be permanent, patrols were stepped up in the autumn of 2001 after further shootings,[8] after which the firearms crime declined dramatically.[9]
As of September 2004, all forces in England and Wales have access to tasers, but they may only be used by Authorised Firearms Officers(AFO's) and specially trained units. The Police Federation have since called for all officers to be issued with tasers, with some public support.[10]
In 2010, following the serious injury of an unarmed officer in a knife attack, the chairman of the Police Memorial TrustMichael Winner stated that he had put up memorials to 44 officers and that he believed, "It is almost certain that at least 38 of those [Police Officers] would be alive had they been armed".[11] In response, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Peter Smyth said, "A lot of police officers don't want to be armed. We don't want a call to arms, I don't think that's necessary."[12]
Police Federation surveys have continued to show police officers' considerable resistance to routine arming. In the Federation's most recent (2006) Officer/Arming survey, 82% of respondents were against the routine arming of police, although 43% supported an increase in the number of officers trained and authorised to use firearms.[13]


Unless people have sufficient faith to dis-arm, there will be no disarmament.

Any collective movement in the direction of peace is always predicated on acts of faith: someone decides to run a definable risk by behaving faithfully rather than fearfully.

Absent faith in disarmament, people will (if law permits) arm themselves in ever greater numbers.

The experience of British law enforcement embeds a value system that is essential for Civilization, whereas Americans' passion for firearms -- whatever near-term benefits may accrue -- inclines the United States toward barbarism.

In my view, the 2nd Amendment should remain intact but it should be read literally: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Read literally, a citizen's right to bear arms derives from the prior political need/mandate to maintain "a well regulated militia." 

Since The Founding Fathers were uniformly opposed to the maintenance of "standing armies," they perceived need for well-regulated citizen militias which could be quickly mustered in time of menace. 

Outside the overarching domain of "a well regulated militia" there is no constitutional authorization that individuals have a right to bear arms.

The stated intent of the 2nd Amendment (embodied at the outset of the amendment) is that arms-bearing citizens be integrated first into "well regulated militias."

Furthermore, prior integration into "well regulated militias" was the contextualized intent of the Founding Fathers as well.

"Security is mostly a superstition.

It does not exist in nature,

nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

-- Helen Keller

(1880-1968) Blind-Deaf Author

Source: The Open Door, 1957

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