Since March 2019 the NZ Police have routinely been seen carrying firearms on regular duty, and the Police Commissioner even directed all officers to carry despite any evidence of further need of them. To look at why police carrying firearms is a bad idea lets take a detour over to the good ol’ US of A and their gun culture.
The first stark difference in attitudes between the USA and NZ (and most other nations too) is that in america guns are intended to be used on people. Self Defense is the name of the game, and if the bad guys all have guns, then sure, the good guys need guns to, right? well, step back and ask yourself what are firearms for in NZ? hunting, target shooting, sport shooting, competition – nowhere on the list do Kiwi’s place self defense. That’s just not what we’re about, we do not want firearms used on people. Period.
The second stark difference is around Pistols. The vast majority of gun deaths in the United States are by pistol because they are cheaper, easily concealable, convenient, and quick to draw. Only a fraction of a percent of their gun deaths are caused by rifles because they are the opposite of every feature of pistols listed above. In New Zealand we already have strict controls around pistols because outside of some competition there isn’t really a legitimate use for them once you take self defense off the table.
So why then are police allowed to not only have access to, but open-carry firearms during regular duty? That sends a message that firearms are in fact for use against people, which goes against everything Kiwis accept about firearms. And on top of that, in an environment where the government is ramping up hostilities against gangs over firearms while simultaneously arming officers, it certainly looks like a lot of aggression and abandoning of principles by the government and police of New Zealand in an effort to force compliance, or else.
No, the police officers shouldn’t open carry on duty. Yes, they should have access to firearms when required. No, we shouldn’t be promoting this idea that they are to be used on people – that’s what authoritarian dictatorships do and that’s not NZ. Yet?