Anti-gunners love Britain. Guns are banned! Not even cops have guns! Hardly anyone’s shot! Comparing Britain to the U.S. is like comparing chalk and cheese. The U.K. is, for the lack of a better word, a police state. It’s the most surveilled country on earth. The right to remain silent is dead (see: “adverse inferences“). They have non-criminal anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs). And so on. When confronted with the latest police state intrusions on individual liberty, the common response is “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.” As far as I can tell, the country is a lost cause, freedom-wise. Right. So. Here’s an American Anglophile’s anti-gun agitprop [via pro.org] . . .
Reports continue to be released in an attempt to get an exact number of how many people have been shot and killed by [American] police in recent years.
It’s a problem they don’t have in Manchester, England, where the number of deaths in the last 40 years is two. Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police, believes that the the number is the result of a radically different approach toward guns and mental health than we have in the United States.
“The whole way that we train officers is that the absolute last resort is to use your firearm,” he says. “When you get into a situation, you assess the situation, you give yourself other options. And it starts from a position, always, that the best weapon is their mouth.”
The vast majority have to use their mouths, or at least not firearms, because only 209 of the 6,700 officers in Manchester’s force are armed. Fahy doesn’t believe that Manchester is particularly safe or small; it’s a busy English city with a population of 2.7 million people, dangerous situations and encounters happen every day.
Sure. The American way to police the populace is to clear leather, shoot first and ask questions later. Or … not. In 2011, blogger Jim Fischer counted 607 Americans shot dead by police that year. In 1996, there were 45 million police/civilian interactions. Using these rough numbers, we can hardly conclude that American cops are trigger happy. Especially considering the dangers they face.
Which cops in Britain don’t face because guns are banned (more or less)! It’s gunbantopia! Only maybe not so much . . .
This is not to say that Manchester — or England as a whole — doesn’t have its fair share of problems, particularly with race. In 2011, major protests followed the shooting of a black teenager in London. But the proactive community approach seems to be helping.
“I think by the form of neighborhood policing that we use, we can be very active in dealing with community tension,” says Fahy, noting that tensions with the Muslim community are especially high. “Being proactive gives you a chance, but I wouldn’t want to say that the British police has had huge amount more success [than the US].”
Yes, about those 2011 race riots. You may recall that disarmed London citizens were helpless against looters, arsonists and the usual rabble that capitalizes on “civil unrest.” Here’s a little refresher [via wikipedia]:
On 10 August, in Winson Green, Birmingham, three men – Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shahzad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31 – were killed in a hit-and-run incident while attempting to protect their neighbourhood from rioters and looters . . .
A 68-year-old man, Richard Mannington Bowes, died on 11 August after he was attacked while attempting to stamp out a litter-bin fire in Ealing on the evening of 8 August . . .
In London, between Monday afternoon and the early hours of Tuesday, 14 people were injured by rioters. These included a 75-year-old woman who suffered a broken hip in Hackney.
In Barking, East London, 20-year-old Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli was beaten and then robbed twice by looters emptying his rucksack.
There’s plenty more, including 186 injured police officers and five police dogs. Rioters set over 100 serious fires (eight fire engines had their windscreens smashed and two fire cars were attacked) leading to property damage which remains to this day. Ah, but that’s the price of safety! True enough. A police state is far safer than a free society – right until it isn’t. Speaking of which . . .
Did you catch that bit about tension in Manchester’s Muslim community? Seems the somewhat disarmed UK police have something of a terrorist problem. In fact, the somewhat disarmed UK police are actually tooling-up. Which is a bit of a problem, in that they don’t have enough “qualified” armed police. No matter. They’re drafting-in retired police marksman to fill the gap.
Of course, the UK’s approach exists within the context of a public that is much less attached to guns, or at least in a country with stricter gun laws, which Fahy acknowledges. But rather than trying to change a culture, simple reforms could change the types of situations that American officers face.
“Realistically, you’re not going to change the gun culture in the US. But it’s more about the way police officers have to deal with incidents where people may be carrying weapons, and there should be other ways of dealing with that, other than shooting them dead.”
Condescending git, I say. And yes, Americans are “attached” to guns. Mostly because they don’t want their country to become the black hole of liberty that the UK has become. And continues to become. Even as its police proclaim that their [supposedly] gun-free touchy-feely approach to law enforcement makes them a gun control paradise. Which it isn’t.