“I would prefer to live in a society where police normally work unarmed,” said Johannes Knutsson, a professor of police research at the Norwegian Police University College. “It is a very forceful and symbolic sign to the citizens that this is a peaceful society.” - NY Times, 7/25/2011
I'd prefer to live in a society where chocolate cake didn't have calories, where every cute young thing found me irresistibly attractive, where disease/accident/age did not impinge upon our lives....
BUT WAIT...those things aren't possible! (Or at least pretty darned unlikely, and should they occur, likely to come with all kinds of interesting consequences).
An unarmed police force has consequences, with the only real variables being the speed and frequency with which those variables pop up.
A society sends police officers, whether as enforcers of societal norms or as officers of the peace, into tense situations where they must deal with persons of varying rationality and ethical considerations that are frequently untroubled by the niceties of legal concerns...i.e., the criminals and the crazy.
They deal with the general public as well, but just as firemen spend most of their time training for and responding to fire and rescue activities, police officers spend most of their time interacting with the naughty among us. And the naughty are not known for their religious adherence to the rules of engagement.
A well-screened and well-trained officer, equipped with a reliable firearm, is able to deal with a far broader range of issues and adventures than an officer equipped with merely a smile and a good line of patter.
It's 5-6lbs of "what if" carried around on a daily basis that, like a fire extinguisher, make the difference between a bad situation and a horrible situation. Between a dead/injured officer or innocent member of the public, and a live/uninjured one.
So when I see an allegedly educated sort wandering about prating the wonders of an unarmed society with an unarmed police department, it makes my head hurt - for verily, the nimrod celebrates the joys of humans as wolves hypnotized into sheephood in a world with no shortage of wolves - with the occasional "didn't take", and emasculated sheep dogs incapable of swift defense.
In such a society, with such a police department, all that is left for the citizens is to wait while the bodies pile up as the rare "designated users of force" are contacted and eventually show up. Conversely, an armed police department and armed citizenry severely inhibits the ability of an armed crazy to take out large numbers of individuals through the use of firearms - as every law-abiding armed citizen and police officer carries with them the ability to communicate "stop that" with great authority.
"But facing a man carrying multiple guns and ample ammunition, there was little he could do. " says the NY Times of the single police officer present at the site of the Norwegian tragedy, regarding the suggestion that if that police officer had been armed he could have intervened, and brought the horror to a screeching halt.
That, my friends, is fatuous bullshit indicative of vast media ignorance. A single person, armed with a single-shot derringer *might* have brought such horror to a halt. A police officer with brains, a wee bit of luck, training and a standard service pistol...would have rather better odds, particularly if not wearing some sort of "shoot me first" indicator (say, a uniform).
It's not the number of firearms or the quantity of ammunition in most cases. It's the skillset, the equipment, and the courage of the officer that can save the day.
A boojum with 4 rifles and 6 pistols and 250 rounds for each just has more crap to haul around - s/he can only fire one at a time effectively, will need to reload, and weight is not the friend of your average boojum...hauling all that mass about slows a person down and makes them more vulnerable, not less.
The NY Times, apparently, needs to send it's reportorial staff to some kind of "how not to appear a biased and blithering idiot while reporting on firearms" (or "reality 101") course. Grrr.