CHANG TAU SIAN of Johor Baru (via e-mail) writes:
I READ with interest the letter, “Stop arming enforcement men” by Silhouette, (The Star, Jan 24).
First of all, there is no Firearms Control Act. Secondly, there is no need to go off the deep end and proclaim our country will become a “cowboy town” due to the issuance of firearms to enforcement officers.
I believe we have more than adequate laws to deal with the misuse of firearms. Penalties range from short periods of imprisonment to the death sentence.
What is more important is the training given to the officers. Over and above the “how” in relation to firearms use, which can be taught effectively during range time, we must ensure the officers are properly schooled in the “when” as well.
Too often, we have firearm owners well-versed in the “how” but with woeful ignorance on the “when”. The number of recent unnecessary shootings by private citizens licensed to bear arms point to this fact.
As long as the officers are trained to understand that a firearm is the last resort, they can be safely armed.
I suggest the officers “internalise” the Tora rule, The Only Reasonable Alternative, for the use of firearms.
For example, if an illegal VCD peddler is running down Petaling Street to escape with his ware, an enforcement officer is not entitled to shoot him.
On the other hand, if the officer is being attacked and in reasonable fear for his personal safety, he is entitled to draw his weapon, display it and issue a verbal warning.
What the officers must remember, apart from the Tora rule, is that the manufacture and sale of illegal goods such as pirated VCDs do not carry the death penalty. Therefore, a VCD peddler need not be shot.
Officers also need to ensure they spend sufficient time in the range so that they can hit whatever they aim at.
Quarterly qualification with issued firearms and minimum round counts should be made mandatory.
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