Some of you will be inconvincible – and I have a lot of sympathy with you. I write this from San Diego, California, where the sight of a policeman with a holstered weapon is commonplace, though still deeply disconcerting for people like me.
But having just returned here from San Bernardino, and being greeted on my way back with the video of a terrorist knifeman in London, I regret to say I may be falling into the “more armed police” camp.
I’ve resisted it the temptation for some time to claim that Britons and their police should be more readily armed, but I can’t help but feel that following the spate of stabbings in Israel, the terror attacks in Paris, the San Bernardino shooting, and now the stabbing in London – that we are at a sea change moment in terms of our security.
And I know it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. If we make the decision to arm more, if not all police in potential terror hotspots like London, there’s no going back.
But when I watch, as I have, repeatedly, the video from Leytonstone tube station last night, I shudder with fear at what might have been, should the attacker have had a more serious weapon himself. You can see from the video below that a police tazer fails to subdue the attacker, with one member of the public forlorning stating, “Didn’t work” in the background.
Part 2 Wats goin on mate pic.twitter.com/dgnlsI1sow
— #UnoMyStyle (@BigTobzsf) December 5, 2015
You can also both see and hear police attempting to deal with the man, struggling to control the active situation as members of the public lollygag around the knifeman. Why the station hadn’t been immediately evacuated… why the alarms weren’t sounding… why the police were at such a distance while the public were within feet and inches of the knifeman – these are questions that will have some satisfactory, and some deeply unsatisfactory answers:
It was immediately after the event… not long enough to evacuate the station?
Maybe, but you can see the bloody mess on the floor before the barriers. Why were people still allowed through barriers? Why weren’t they shut down? Where are the station staff forming a line to stop and protect the public? It’s a far cry from the first responder behaviour in San Bernardino where an officer could be heard telling frightened members of the public: “I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure”.
The police were trying to keep the public back – there weren’t enough of them to apprehend the man and keep people safe.
I wish that were true but it’s not, from what we can see anyway. Members of the public appear to be walking freely near the man, with one even attacked and seemingly stabbed while the police shout inane threats at the knifeman. This is bad policing. Even though it was quick, it was sloppy. They got pretty lucky. Their first instinct should be to stop the man in his tracks by any means necessary. In reality, this was the kind of policing that Jeremy Corbyn wants.
And I know – for all intents and purposes it is better to have a live suspect than a dead one (although I am somewhat less sympathetic if I’m being honest). But it’s clear at least to me that one member of the public was hurt while police were on the scene, and this is totally unacceptable.
Because what springs to mind, when comparing this attack and the San Bernardino one – is what if the Leytonstone stabber had a rifle? With the police shouting, “Please stop!” the man could have gunned down dozens more, rather than stabbing just one more as he did with his knife yesterday.
“But Raheem, you can’t get rifles as easily in the UK as you can in America!”
Sure, not as easily. But if anyone wants to challenge me to obtain some pretty serious weaponry on a modest budget in London – you’re going to lose.
We saw what happened in Paris and Brussels, in terms of weapons being recovered. We saw what happened with a cache of shotguns being recovered in Italy. What did that nice Mr. Farage man call the current situation? Oh yes, “the free movement of AK-47s”.
Luckily, as you and I both know, there’s a small body of water between Britain and the continent, that keeps us ever so slightly more insulated from these problems. But again – gun crime is up – especially since our police got all politically correct about it.
Sure, we can speculate until the cows come home about what attacks might occur in Britain, and what the repercussions are of police having weapons. But so far, those of us who have warned about terror attacks on our own soil, those of us who have warned that our security is being threatened by those with greater allegiances to foreign actors than to Britain, those of us who are unapologetic about trying to protect our way of life have been proved correct.
And yes, I understand introducing guns would be altering our way of life – or perhaps we should be returning it to how it used to be, where free born Englishmen could more easily have firearms with which to protect themselves. Either way, our way of life will be changed one way or another by terrorism. I tend to err on the side of protecting ourselves first, rather than protecting the rather more ambiguous idea that we are not as barbarous a society as our much younger friends across the Atlantic.
We have imported barbarism. Now we must face it down.