On February 18, The Washington Post highlighted five countries where “officers are unarmed when they are on patrol” and suggested that unarmed officers “have saved lives–exactly because they were unable to shoot.”
The five countries cited as examples were Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, and New Zealand.
The WaPo quotes Northern Michigan University Associate Professor Guomundur Oddsson’s explanation that “the practice [of using unarmed police] is rooted in tradition and belief that arming the police with guns engenders more gun violence than it prevents.”
Curiously, in Norway, many blamed a “flawed police response” for Anders Behring Breivik’s killing of 77 people at a Norwegian summer camp in 2011. Seventy-seven victims is nearly three times the number of people killed in the heinous Sandy Hook Elementary School attack, yet the WaPo cites Norway as an example, explaining that “the tradition of unarmed police officers has proven to be stronger than the fear of terrorism.”
The news outlet also points to an incident where two British police officers were shot and killed in 2012, but he equivocates by quoting Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, who stated, “Sadly we know from the experience in America and other counties that having armed officers certainly does not mean, sadly, that police officers do not end up getting shot.”
The WaPo did not cite France, where unarmed police officers arrived at Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7 only to be forced into fleeing for their lives by attackers who were armed.
However, what the WaPo did say is that the key to making unarmed police a reality is “low inequality and a strong welfare system.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.