COMMENT:

I suppose the first thing to recognise is that the police squads in their shiny new Holden SUVs and their guns are not a trial - this the future.

And as much as some, and I suspect that number is nowhere near as high as it once was, may see this as a slippery slope, or the beginning of the end, or the end of a sort of innocence, the reality is it's been coming for years. And in many respects you could mount a pretty good argument that it's actually not a moment too soon - and should have been enacted a long time ago.

There is much irony in this move as well. The gun squads are a response to growing gun crime, the growing number of gangs, and the growing number of violent incidents our cops have to face.

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And that is happening against a backdrop of a gun buyback. One can assume that the police, in their day-to-day dealings of increased gun violence, are doing so with people that perhaps haven't got around to giving their weapons up at one of the many buyback shows they've put on for just such an action.

Could we suggest, in fact, that the only people who have given up their guns are law-abiding sports people, who never bothered the police, never caused any trouble and certainly never sat on the internet getting radicalised?

In theory, and this of course is where the buyback has gone so hopelessly wrong, the police should not be launching armed squads because all the bad weapons have been collected up and destroyed: wasn't that the point?

Anyway, here's another simple reality: anyone who's travelled knows this day was always coming. On the streets of Sydney, London and Los Angeles the police are armed and have been for so long that they must have looked on in wonder that we still let our constabulary walk into danger with some handcuffs and pepper spray.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush announce a trial for armed police in special vehicles to be on regular patrol in the main centres. Photo / Will Trafford
Police Commissioner Mike Bush announce a trial for armed police in special vehicles to be on regular patrol in the main centres. Photo / Will Trafford

I have the most extraordinary respect for the police. They do a relentless and largely thankless job, and they are in ever increasing danger.

What it must be like to head into lord knows what, on a dark, miserable Saturday night where any combination of guns, drugs, booze and mental instability face you behind a door or a fence.

These people do what we wouldn't dare touch. And a gun, as much as we might like to hope otherwise, is a tool of the job. It is what is required to be effective. And from the dark side of what they're dealing with, it brings a level of respect, if not fear.

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We have lived in a deluded state with a sense that the bad guys are scallywags, and a good reprimand, and perhaps a warning down at the station, fixes stuff.

This is a small world and we are inter-connected in a way we can't escape. The world's dark side is ugly and getting uglier.

The fact we've thought that guns are an unnecessary extravagance has only ever been to the bad guys' advantage.