By Geoffrey Churchman
The list of countries that have police forces whose members do not routinely carry guns is a short one: Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and New Zealand. But it seems the Jacinda government wants to remove NZ from that list.
There’s been really no need for it here because of the very low level of gun violence (see earlier posts), and there’s still no need for it. But last year’s mosque shootings by one lone lunatic visitor (possibly with an accomplice who provided some coordination assistance) presented the Jacinda government with the golden opportunity of introducing the sight of armed police to the public: all frontline police officers throughout the country were instructed by (fortunately now retired) Police Commissioner Mike Bush to carry guns while on duty for several weeks.
It seems likely to become the permanent scene before much longer.
Why? Because armed police are more intimidating, and this government has swiftly been moving NZ from a liberal democracy to an authoritarian state where political opponents and their views are not tolerated.
According to this webpage, each year about 1,100 people a year get shot dead by Police in the U.S.; dividing that by 66 translates to a population equivalent of about 16 per year in NZ.
NZ’s actual figures until last year have been nothing like that, but according to this article on the Sccop website, in the first 6 months of Bush’s Armed Response Teams (ARTs) launched by police last October, three people have been shot dead by them; doubling that would mean 6 annually, still a way short of the American statistics — but it needs to be remembered that in America, handguns are extremely widely carried by criminals, drug dealers, gang members and others. That is not the case in NZ.
According to this article on the Newshub website, these 6 months of the country’s routinely armed police officers saw them used most often for traffic stops instead of armed offenders or serious crime.
‘The six-month trial of Armed Response Teams (ARTs) was launched by police last October, with former Police Commissioner Mike Bush saying they’d be focussed on crimes that caused “significant risk”. But data obtained by Newshub Nation shows they largely did the work of normal police.’
“One of the concerns, when these teams were introduced, was they would be an introduction of armed units into routine policing by stealth, and looking at the data that’s emerged those fears seem to be realised,” says former police officer Tim McKinnel.
In the Scoop article, People Against Prisons Aotearoa spokesperson Emilie Rākete is quoted as saying: “The police are killing people who didn’t have to die. The Armed Response Team trial has given police permission to shoot first and ask questions later.”
The photo below shows what the New Normal in Jacindaland could well be: a policeman wielding a semi-automatic assault rifle (which Jacinda & Co. made illegal for everyone else last year) in April in Wellington during Lockdown with no apparant reason. We do not want to see poorly trained cops running around with guns on Rambo-style power-trips.