• Police Armed Response Teams to end
• Armed Response Teams trial: Police warned not consulting Māori could have 'severe' consequence
• George Floyd and the failed US example: Greens call Armed Response Teams trial 'a mess', call to rule it out
• Armed Response Teams: Lack of consultation 'just not on'
I've never held a gun.
I've never fired a gun.
I'm willing to bet that this is true for most people.
I don't go hunting, don't target shoot for sport and don't live on a farm — the only reasons I believe guns should be in the hands of the public.
While living in Australia in my 20s, I was taken aback the first time I saw police on foot patrol in Surfers Paradise with guns on them in holsters.
It took me a while to get used to. They were not Tasers, they were lethal, designed to kill.
Here in New Zealand the police have just ended an armed response police trial with new Police Commissioner Andrew Coster saying the "response teams do not align with the style of policing that New Zealanders expect".
"We have listened carefully to that feedback and I have made the decision these teams will not be a part of our policing model in the future."
The six-month experiment ended in April and involved a group of officers in three regions — Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury — equipped with guns on their hips at all times.
The decision to end the trial came amid revelations that police in the trial teams failed to record their callouts properly on almost every occasion during the first two months of the trial with data from five out of every six callouts missing.
Just on that fact alone it stands to reason the trial was aborted.
The trial was heavily criticised by justice advocates concerned about a lack of community consultation, and that the armed squads would disproportionately target Māori and Pasifika communities.
In documents released to NZME, police were warned that not consulting Māori would have "severe" consequences and that the trial may not produce enough evidence to be adequately evaluated.
So it makes sense the trial was abandoned. It appears it was doomed to fail from the start.
In my view, armed police are not something the New Zealand public needs to feel safe.
Coster has made the right call.
Our police already have access to firearms. Patrol cars have them stored safely, ready for police to retrieve when called upon.
And we have armed offenders squads and special tactics group ready to deploy when needed.
We don't need more guns.