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Forums > Social Discussion > Police and Lethal Weaponry

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Sethis
Sethis

Pooh-Bah
Location: York University
Member Since: 16th May 2005
Total posts: 1762
Posted:I was wondering why police ever carry lethal weaponry around. I know it's much more common in the states than it is here in the UK, and I was musing about it.

Out of curiosity, what situation do they actually think will happen where they will be required to use lethal force? Say someone is mugging someone with a gun (the mugger has the gun, rather than the other way round wink), and the police intervene. Are they going to shoot the guy? Why wouldn't tasers stop him? Hell, tasers would work in just about every situation I can think of, and rubber bullets would work in most of the rest.

I know I feel very intimidated by police carrying either pistols or automatic rifles... It would be so easy to accidently kill someone. Why take the risk? And if we've outlawed capital punishment, then surely there is no ethical justification for killing crimminals at the scene of the crime, with no trial?

The police always seem to me to be members of the community, helping to solve problems and look after residents to the best of their ability. As soon as they pick up asault rifles though, then they become these impassive killing machines that you're afraid to go near or look at. That isn't a helpful transformation to make, in my opinion.

Any opinions?


After much consideration, I find that the view is worth the asphyxiation.
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Zauberdachs
Zauberdachs

enthusiast
Location: The village of Edinburgh
Member Since: 28th Jul 2004
Total posts: 220
Posted:I suspect that gun crime is so low in the UK that if there were only two or three extra cases that would lead to a shift of 30% or 40% increase in gun crime.

I mean a gun crime in this country hits the front pages of the national newspapers.


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spiralx
spiralx

veteran
Location: London, UK
Member Since: 1st May 2002
Total posts: 1376
Posted:There were 81 gun deaths in 2002, compared to 816 in Canada and 30,242 in the US. Adjusting for population that gives ratios of

1 (UK) : 17.2 (Canada) : 69.6 (US)


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Zauberdachs
Zauberdachs

enthusiast
Location: The village of Edinburgh
Member Since: 28th Jul 2004
Total posts: 220
Posted:That's like a whole town getting wiped out every year.



But what exactly does "gun deaths" mean? does it mean deliberate shootings or accidental deaths?


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Stout
Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada
Member Since: 12th May 2004
Total posts: 1872
Posted:I was fairly alarmed when I read the statistics for Canada, so I did a little research....Those stats include death by suicide too.

Of those numbers 18.5% were homicides in Canada, whereas 38.5% were homicides in the U.S. I couldn't find anything on how many actual shootings there were ( not involving death )



Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:Sorry but I don't accept "well those crimes don't count, they were done by criminals.." which is essentially what you're saying :P

There are plenty of illegals in the US as well, that is an entirely different issue, and I'm sure a decent percentage of our crimes are committed by those aliens, that doesn't mean I'm going to smudge them off the statistics and say they don't count.

Written by: spiralx
Lots of unsubstiantiated assertions there! And besides, you're 33 times more likely to be murdered in Washington than London, or 8 times more likely in New York.



According to the numbers its down to about 3. something NY vs London... regardless, our numbers are dropping, you'rs are climbing.

As the article said if you read it, geographical and cultural elements play more of a role than weapon availablity, as through most of the 200 year study there were no weapon laws in either of the cities.

As for the US vs Canada thing, yes Canada's may include suicide.. But many US states do not have a difference between assault and battery laws. Which means simply yelling at someone, or threatening them in any ways is considered assault, and thus a violent crime, regardless of whether or not any physical contact occured. Like I said before, they're just numbers, and statistics can and will be skewed whichever way people want to read them.

It does *not* however change the fact that the US's crime rate is dropping, and the UK's is raising.

I don't believe that the *weapons* are the problem, society and the media is the problem. Fight the cause of the crime not the tools.


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FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:Lurch - I was very surprised about the number you quoted.

Crime rising in Europe is a fact, nobody can deny that. I do not know enough about the reasons, but to put this on "Jamaicans" or the "Eastern European Mafia" would be diffamatory... no? wink It's not necessary a racial problem, it's a social problem. And as in many fields, the state is only trying to cure the symptoms, rather than the cause... To fight crime effectively the social environment has to improve!

But this is not in the interest of those in power. We need to need them, as it's the justification of the system (as it is today) and the aim is to remain...

But all of this is "off topic", no?

The question is, whether the police should carry or not. I would like to see a de-escalation of a conflict, rather than it's aggravation, therefore I'd say: no...


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spiralx
spiralx

veteran
Location: London, UK
Member Since: 1st May 2002
Total posts: 1376
Posted:Written by: Zauberdachs

That's like a whole town getting wiped out every year.

But what exactly does "gun deaths" mean? does it mean deliberate shootings or accidental deaths?


Both of those plus suicides I'd imagine. Probably half the US numbers are suicides, haven't got the figures to hand but the number is at least as large as the number of murders, possibly higher.


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spiralx
spiralx

veteran
Location: London, UK
Member Since: 1st May 2002
Total posts: 1376
Posted:Written by: Lurch
Sorry but I don't accept "well those crimes don't count, they were done by criminals.." which is essentially what you're saying :P


No I wasn't confused I never said they didn't count, I said that they didn't support your hypothesis.

What I said that was the majority of the additional deaths were due to the influx of Yardie gangsters and the associated rise in black youth gun culture. This is true - do a search for Operation Trident who are tasked specifically to deal with black-on-black crime.

You made the link between the banning of handguns and the increase in gun crime, I gave a different explaination which is backed up by the figures. Unless you think that the Yardies suddenly came over here with their guns because of the ban?

Written by:
According to the numbers its down to about 3. something NY vs London... regardless, our numbers are dropping, you'rs are climbing.


That's true, NY has gotten far safer over the last decade or so. I believe Washington DC murder rates are still climbing though?

Written by:
As the article said if you read it, geographical and cultural elements play more of a role than weapon availablity, as through most of the 200 year study there were no weapon laws in either of the cities.


I believe I might've said that at the end of my post. I'm not saying the US should ban guns tomorrow, that'd be a right mess given your society. But given that gun ownership doesn't do anything for crime long-term, I don't see that that is a reason to argue for them *shrug*

Written by:
As for the US vs Canada thing, yes Canada's may include suicide.. But many US states do not have a difference between assault and battery laws. Which means simply yelling at someone, or threatening them in any ways is considered assault, and thus a violent crime, regardless of whether or not any physical contact occured. Like I said before, they're just numbers, and statistics can and will be skewed whichever way people want to read them.


Truly.

Written by:
It does *not* however change the fact that the US's crime rate is dropping, and the UK's is raising.

I don't believe that the *weapons* are the problem, society and the media is the problem. Fight the cause of the crime not the tools.


Again as I said, the long-term causes of crime trends are tricky to pin down. Saying it's "because firearms were banned" is very misleading indeed.


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jeff(fake)
jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 15th Apr 2005
Total posts: 1189
Posted:I think we all accept that there are situations where arming the police is appropriate, but how about the innappropriate situations.

Immediatly after the London bombs there were police everywhere (quite rightly) with some very heavy looking weapons. It looked like a recipe for a tragic mistake and unnerved the public. I'm suggesting that the level of police arming was wrong in this case as it increased the level of danger that the public was under.


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Zauberdachs
Zauberdachs

enthusiast
Location: The village of Edinburgh
Member Since: 28th Jul 2004
Total posts: 220
Posted:Written by: Lurch

It does *not* however change the fact that the US's crime rate is dropping, and the UK's is raising.




It doesn't, you're right. However I think crime rates always fluctuate. It rises over five years and then it goes down over the next five years. The truth is the UK crime rate and gun crime rate is consistantly much lower than the US. Even with the increase we still have a lot less gun crime. A hell of a lot less.

Therefore I would suggest that the fact worth holding onto is that despite ups and downs our gun policy works better.


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Birgit
Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 27th Jan 2005
Total posts: 4145
Posted:http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_tot_cri_percap
br>
crime rates.

just to get my little German point of view in again, we've got armed police (though not heavily), and the crime rate is both below the UK and the US.

My theories:

1. Germany are still catching up both on gangs and neds/chavs, and on having lots of expensive equipment on us (mobiles, ipods etc) that people will then steal. Same applies to things like date rape. Though the statistics are 1995-2000, so there's not that much of these around anyways.
2. While the US police is armed, so are the civilians, which has a potential of more crime.
3. While UK citizens are generally extremely unarmed, so is the police, which doesn't help because the criminals are not those 99 or so % of the population that says "oh, sure, it's forbidden to have a knife, so I'll leave mine at home".

Interesting bits:

Assaults per capita: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_ass_percap
br>kind of like what I said above, imo

Burglaries per capita: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_bur_percap
br>Here US is below UK, probably due to more alarms, neighbourhood watches, people living in guarded places... and the potential of the house owner having a gun scaring burglars off?

Females prosecuted per capita:
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_fem_pro_percap
br>Interesting one... has the potential to say a lot about how society perceives women. Though I don't think I know enough about it to interpret well.

Murders per capita:
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_mur_percap
br>all 3 nations performing quite well here internationally

Very interesting bit:

A highly technological country like Japan manages to score quite low on every single aspect of crime. What's different there? I'm sure it's lss armed police (or population) than people's attitude, as I've pointed out in other threads...

(all figures from http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/stecfor.html)


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FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:Well I am surprised to find India at the very bottom of the (total crime) list... However I think that one reason for Japans low crime rate is the socio/cultural background of this country, where ethics and obedience still play a high role in society...

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ducky2108
ducky2108

A little bit of a board whore
Location: Glasgow
Member Since: 18th Dec 2005
Total posts: 147
Posted:Also, to say the crime rate is rising is a bit misleading. These days, being a group of kids chatting on a street corner is seen as a crime. All these ASBOs kicking around could be counted in the statistics. I can also be down to (and the police freely admit this) this amount of beaurocracy that has been cut, meaning they can now process more crimes. And you have people reporting as crimes things which previously would have gone unreport.

Of this last example, the best example is mobile phone theft/loss. It's often necessary to report to the police the "theft" of a mobile phone to get anything out of the insurance companies.


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FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:I want to point out at one thing: Over a millennium or so Europe has achieved more or less general safety (in some areas more in some less), the US have a completely different background and armament of the public was just necessary, as the government couldn't keep up protection to remote areas...

Currently (no question) Europe is facing challenges from both, "locals" and immigrants. How to deal with it? IMHO surely NOT by stepping back in time and arming regular citizens, surely NOT by empowering the military with regular police-powers and duties, or by gearing up the police.

Crime is a problem - of society - IMO it's testing the failure (on this very individual) and corrective measures are necessary. But those measures cannot stop with plain incarceration/ punishment, not with only curing the symptoms while the causes remain.

If someone breaks into my house - I leave him alone as far as possible, someone holding a gun to my head for my wallet? Let him have it! Attack of wife and family definately is a extreme case in which I defend and even disregard my own safety - but apart from this I let go...


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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:I think you guys are misunderstanding the use of handguns over here for self defence.

Every state is different, but they're all pretty much the same. In Oregon for instance I can only use lethal force in the defense of a human life. Myself or a 3rd party. There is also a 'duty to retreat' clause. Which means I have the legal requirement to run away if I can. However if I can't, as in I'm cornered, or my running puts someone else in danger, that changes.

For instance, if I am home alone, and someone breaks into my house, and I can exit through the back door without confrontation, technically and legally speaking I'm supposed to do that. However, if someone else is home, say I have a neice or something taking a nap in another room. There is no way in hell I'm going to run away to leave a criminal alone in my house with a child.

Now say I was sleeping, in my bedroom cornered, and someone broke in. "Tactically" I should never exit the bedroom. The "propper" response would be to barricade myself in the room. (call 911) Announce that I have a handgun, and if they attempt to enter the bedroom I'll consider that a deadly threat and they will be shot. If there is noone else in the house, or if they are in the bedroom with me, I have no qualms with that. Insurance will pay for whatever they take. A VCR isn't worth a human life....

Now as for shooting someone when they have a knife. Like I said before, they've done many many many studies over 'how close is too close.' Well trained officers (and civilians of course) can draw and fire at a target 7 yards away in 1.5 seconds. At that same 21' it takes the average adult 1.5 seconds to get to you. Which means if they have a melee weapon, be it a knife, axe, machete, tire iron, whatever. They will be on you before you can defend yourself. Even if you do get one shot off their momentum will still carry them into you, and probably do whatever damage they were going to do... Personally I'd rather get in a gunfight than a knife fight... But to each his own.

http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Tueller/How.Close.htm


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jeff(fake)
jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 15th Apr 2005
Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: Lurch

I think you guys are misunderstanding the use of handguns over here for self defence.



I thought we were talking about the arming of British police... confused


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Patriarch917
Patriarch917

I make my own people.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Member Since: 2nd Oct 2005
Total posts: 607
Posted:We were, but it was suggested that a police force ought to be at least as well armed as the criminal, which spun us off into criticising American gun laws.


jeff(fake)
jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 15th Apr 2005
Total posts: 1189
Posted:T'was a subtle hint to Lurch and the others. Can we get back on topic please, guys.

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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:Those defense laws still apply to officers, they just have a little more leeway as they cannot/should not "run away" when confronted.

Sorry but the topic of whether police should be armed seems to be settled, however the discussion isn't over. I like my guns... In fact, I think I'll go shooting today just for you guys wink


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Sethis
Sethis

Pooh-Bah
Location: York University
Member Since: 16th May 2005
Total posts: 1762
Posted:Hey, pop off a few rounds for me at the paper target. No worries.

Just don't try killing anyone wink

Written by: Lurch

Personally I'd rather get in a gunfight than a knife fight




I know this is wandering off topic again, (but it's my thread tongue) but I have to ask: Why? I'm honestly confused as to why you would prefer to be in a shoot out than a hand to hand fight. Surely you are much much much more likely to die accidently with guns than you would with knives? (we're assuming from the word "fight" that intimidation/running hasn't worked or isn't an option) Also, aren't bystanders more at risk with guns?


After much consideration, I find that the view is worth the asphyxiation.
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pounce
pounce

All the neurotic makings of America's lesser known sweetheart
Location: body in Las Vegas, heart all a...
Member Since: 10th Jan 2003
Total posts: 9831
Posted:ah that's the common misconception though. the actual hit rate for a gun fight is suprisingly low, even among trained police. i don't have the stats on it, but i'm sure lurch could find it for me wink a hand to hand knife fight can be much more lethal.

I was always scared with my mother's obsession with the good scissors. It made me wonder if there were evil scissors lurking in the house somewhere.

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FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:Written by: Lurch

Personally I'd rather get in a gunfight than a knife fight




I'd rather get in NO fight in the first place. Problem with carrying a weapon in the first place is that none of the opponents are trying to solve the issue with words only. IMO conflicts escalate, when weapons are having a part in it...

Lurch, you know what sensation it is to "carry" (a lethal weapon)... how would you describe it?


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pounce
pounce

All the neurotic makings of America's lesser known sweetheart
Location: body in Las Vegas, heart all a...
Member Since: 10th Jan 2003
Total posts: 9831
Posted:i don't think it's the presence of a weapon that influences people to not solve their problems with words. it's just plain stupidity. weapons or no, those are the people who will get into a physical argument every time.

I was always scared with my mother's obsession with the good scissors. It made me wonder if there were evil scissors lurking in the house somewhere.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:In a random 'gunfight' out on the street (basically never happen) but if it *does* happen, among untrained people, most will shoot as fast as they can, using the wonderfun 'spray and pray' technique that is so common among the badguys. Which means A: they probably aren't going to hit anything, especially if I'm behind propper cover or past about 15 feet and moving, and B: they'll run themselves out of ammo long before I will.



That said, a gunfight will usually have one of 3 results.



1: you aren't hit (most likely)

2: Hit, but not lethal (second most likely)

3: Hit and dead



In a knife fight... Well.... knife fights are not pretty..



Unless you're a martial arts expert, you *will* get cut. That is basically a given. Which means more than likely, you're going to come out of it severely injured, if not dead in the end. You have to remember that for Police, and for the average joe, the hand to hand up close fighting is the most dangerous type of fight you can get yourself into. With knives, no "strike" will instantly stop someone. At least not one that you're going to be able to pull off. Depending on your 'style' (slashing vs stabbing) Stabbing is going to be your best bet for a quick end. Slashing oddly enough is what most people default to. If you slash someone, (unless you get an extremely lucky shot) its not going to drop them. And chances are it's going to take them at least a few minutes to bleed out enough to put them out of the fight. Which leaves them plenty of time to injure you the same... Most knife on knife fights end in a draw, with both people heavily injured or dead in the end.



Basically, in a gunfight, chances of my not getting hurt at all are a lot better. In a knife fight, both of us are going to be injured, probably heavily, and if I survive chances are i'll have some pretty fun scars, and probably disabilities as a result of it...



Now to relate it all back to police... the large majority of confrontations take place within 10 feet. With a significant chunk of those within four feet. Now officers are always taught, (as are any other gun savy people) to be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Which means they are not going to shoot at a guy standing in front of a crowd. That said, due to the stress and just the nature of a fight, even among trained officers there is only about a 15% hit ratio. If i'm just fighting with joe blow criminal he's going to be much worse than that.





Edit: ignore those numbers for right now, I'm doing a little more research I'm not at home right now so I don't have my normal materials, so they might be off a bit

EDITED_BY: Lurch (1140935254)


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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:Written by: FireTom
I'd rather get in NO fight in the first place. Problem with carrying a weapon in the first place is that none of the opponents are trying to solve the issue with words only. IMO conflicts escalate, when weapons are having a part in it...

Lurch, you know what sensation it is to "carry" (a lethal weapon)... how would you describe it?



Ummm... I'm sorry, but how does having weapons remove any moral or ethical responsibility to end the dispute peacefully? If you think you don't have that duty merely because you have a weapon on you, you are probably a sociopath and should be nowhere near weapons. The presence of weapons dissolves the situation far more than it escalates it. In fact I know many people who carry firearms, including police officers while off duty, and all of them are far more likely to get into fights when the do NOT have their weapon on them, simply because become much more docile while armed.

Levels of force must be progressed through the same as any other situation, the only difference being you have the ability, if needed, to defend your life with lethal force.

As for what it's like to carry weapons? The only "weapons" I carry daily are knives, they don't give me any 'sensation,' they are not a source of power. They are comforting however, and I feel naked without them. And no, I have never been forced to use one in self defense, nor would I unless I absolutely had to to save my life.


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Sethis
Sethis

Pooh-Bah
Location: York University
Member Since: 16th May 2005
Total posts: 1762
Posted:Well, I guess I'm just confident that I could defend myself more or less effectively against a single attacker armed with a knife rather than a single attacker with a gun. smile

There are ways of more or less instantly disabling people that are non-lethal. That's what I see as preferable to shooting people.

And curiously, your figures don't seem to coincide? You say the majority of situations take place at a range of 4-10'... why then is the hit ratio 15%? Also, your previous figures on CCWs vs Guns at certain distances (21'?) is slightly contradictory about the argument for carrying guns. If the vast majority of times your attacker is going to be within 21' and armed for close combat then why is it a good thing to have a gun? Surely it would be more effective to pull out your baton at that range?

Do you see (when the hit ratio is 15%) why I don't like officers with automatic rifles in tube stations? If they get into a melee fight, the weapon will get in the way. If they have the opportunity to shoot, then it's much riskier than if they simply chased after them with a taser.

(Note: I noticed your edit, and thought I'd add that if the figures are significantly different then I'll change what I've quoted as well smile)


After much consideration, I find that the view is worth the asphyxiation.
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I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.


BansheeCat
veteran
Location: lost
Member Since: 29th Jul 2005
Total posts: 1247
Posted:Like Stout, I have to say I am glad I do not live in a heavily armed society!

For the simple reason that judging by the amount of times I managed to hurt myself using just attempting to use my freakin' swiss army knife, for the purposes it was theoretically intended for-- I think it is reasonable to assume that alot of unintentionally harmful incidents occur when people are carrying dangerous weapons. Accidents, misfires, children getting access, harm to themselves, and to others. I am sure there are stats out there to back me up, someone has probably listed a few already...

If swiss army knives are so damn dangerous to the inexperienced, I can only imagine what damage I could do with a gun.Yikes! And the swiss army, I dont even want to consider the damage they could do with those things! ;-)

I realize that police and military receive training, but I still would not want to rely on that preventing harm in many volitile rapid and unpredicatable situations where guns get used simply because they are there, and that is what they are trained to respond with...


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onewheeldave
Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: Sethis

Well, I guess I'm just confident that I could defend myself more or less effectively against a single attacker armed with a knife rather than a single attacker with a gun. smile

There are ways of more or less instantly disabling people that are non-lethal. That's what I see as preferable to shooting people.




It's worth pointing out that generally, anyone who feels any kind of confidence in their ability to deal with a knife attack, is likely to have a very unrealistic view of knife attacks.

If attacked by someone who knows how to use a knife, the chances of remaining unhurt are very low; if attacked by someone who has no idea of how to use a knife, the chances of remaining unhurt are, unfortunatly, also very low.

Knives are deadly even when simply thrashed around wildly.

(I'm not saying you are naive when it comes to knife attacks, but I've noticed that many people who've got martial arts training tend to have dangerously unrealistic expectations of the feasibility of 'dealing' with a knife attack).

I fully inderstand why Lurch would prefer, if conflict was unavoidable, a gun conflict to a knife-fight- it sounds as though he is trained in gun use; presumably he's not trained in knife-fighting and, even if he were, appreciates that in knife-fights there are rarely any winners.


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Sethis
Sethis

Pooh-Bah
Location: York University
Member Since: 16th May 2005
Total posts: 1762
Posted:So why is Lurches confidence in his ability with a gun any different to my confidence in my ability in close combat?

I didn't say I was going to be unhurt, or that I could perfectly deal with any situation involving somone waving a knife. All I said was that I would be more confident facing a knife than a gun, because I've had some training on how to deal with knives in a fight. I haven't, however, had any training with how to deal with guns in the same situation.

I'm aware knives are dangerous. I'm aware that guns are dangerous. Winners don't appear much in any fight, to be honest... shrug


After much consideration, I find that the view is worth the asphyxiation.
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FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:Written by: Sethis
Winners don't appear much in any fight, to be honest... shrug



Best quote of the entire discussion!

Rather than retarding into a hostile society where everyone is scared of the next and therefore polite doesn't sound appealing to me at all.

Lurch, I have little experience with guns and I can close shoulders with the majority of people who I met and also have experience, to say that (especially) a (lethal) gun gives one the sensation/ feeling of power/ control and superiority (to an individual extent).

Also you do not want to imply that youngster gang member will be less likely to solve a conflict with words than with guns (if they carry)... but maybe all of them are sociopaths?

I prefer an unarmed society! - Maybe you spend some time in the "old" world and you might know what we are all talking about. I thoroughly receive positive remarks from US-citizens who spent some time abroad... (and guess they are not just out of manners, but based on hard facts)...


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink


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