Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

NZ police get it right on guns

2 comments
Police shooting on Te Ngae Rd near the Redwood Shopping Centre. Photo/ Ben Fraser
Police shooting on Te Ngae Rd near the Redwood Shopping Centre. Photo/ Ben Fraser

It seems to have been a fortnight of violence.

America is in the most volatile state I have ever seen after police shot African American men Philando Castile and Alton Sterling - both have sparked outrage with many people claiming there was no need for them to be shot.

Then came the five officers shot and killed by Micah Xavier Johnson in Dallas.
And since then there have been protests in most states that have often spilled over into violence.

Many Americans seem to lack trust in the police force that is supposed to protect them, which in turn puts officers on edge.

While all that is half a world away, we have seen two people shot by police in our own county this week.

Nick Marshall was killed in Hamilton on Tuesday night and on Thursday night a man was seriously injured in Rotorua after being shot.

It's unusual to hear of that in New Zealand. Police shootings are few and far between - as they should be.

New Zealand has a reputation as a relatively safe country, and most of the time that is true.

With two shooting in a week I have heard mutterings about whether our police should have guns.

I think the balance we have now is the best way to go forward.

Police officers put their lives on the line often to keep our cities safe and they need to be able to defend themselves.

Police have assured us officers opened fire in Rotorua after pepper spray and attempts to Taser the man failed.

They need another option when all else fails - and that's where guns come in.

The fact they tried the other non-lethal options first gives me confidence our police see guns as a last resort and will do all they can to avoid using them. In saying that, perhaps American police could take a leaf from our book.

I think police should try pepper spray or Tasers before resorting to guns.

If you have a gun strapped to you at all times you are more likely to grab it and use it when you are in a tricky situation.

In New Zealand guns are safely stored in the boot of police cars. That means there has to be a conscious decision to get them out.

If they are going in to a situation where they think there could be weapons, they will meet somewhere first to arm themselves or call in the armed offenders squad.

I'm glad our police have access to guns and can get them quickly if they need to.

But I do not think they should carry guns on them all the time.

I wonder what would happen if police in America tried the same thing.

Yes, there is more of a gun culture in the States meaning they may find themselves facing armed offenders more often, but surely it is worth a trial.

We need to do all we can to preserve lives.

It is up to the courts to decide if someone is guilty or not.

Guns should always be a last resort.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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