In a little-noticed move, a small number of police officers are now routinely carrying sidearms while on patrol in parts of the mainland UK. . . .
It’s a sight that once would have been unthinkable. In this corner of the Scottish Highlands – an area with one of the lowest crime rates in the UK – the officers showing up to a relatively workaday disturbance are armed.
Although every police force has a firearms unit, for decades it has been an article of faith that in the mainland UK, almost uniquely among major industrialised nations, the police do not carry guns as a matter of course.
But with little fanfare at first, a policy of routinely allowing specialist officers to wear sidearms as they walk the streets of Scotland has come into being. . . .
Meanwhile, an anti-gun activist in Scotland opposes police carrying guns. From the UK Daily Record:
. . . Dr Mick North lost his five-year-old daughter Sophie when killer Thomas Hamilton struck at her school.
The anti-gun activist has slammed Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House for suggesting armed bobbies could have stopped the massacre.
At a force summit in June, the country’s top policeman highlighted the mass murder of Sophie, her 14 primary 1 classmates and teacher Gwen Mayor as a reason why units should not spend “an extra five, 10, 15, 20 minutes” arming themselves.
Dr North said: “I can’t see how any armed police would have stopped Dunblane.“It took 15 minutes until any police officer arrived at the school when the incident was all over in three minutes.” . . .
Some notes: I agree that it is very doubtful that police could have arrived quickly enough to stop the attack at Dunblane. But does that mean that there won’t be a few other times when speed might save some lives. Of course, my response is to speed up response time to these tragedies by getting rid of gun-free zones, not by disarming even police. It is hard to see any benefits from having police being disarmed.