"Either way, a gun is expected. If a police officer shows up without a gun, he better have Bruce Lee Jackie Chan skills or he's useless."
True in the US, but not where I live (so far). From an article I linked to in the 'other' Newtown thread, I highlight this, mainly because it is a stark perspective on how some of us living outside the US see the issues:
"The debate over arming our (NZ) police officers is once again reignited. Arming our police officers in no sense heads us on a path to becoming to new America. But, all the same, we mustn't forget the deadly force of firearms. An arms race with criminals is the last thing that New Zealand needs, and America has simply proven that is possible. What we must recognise is the importance of the safety of our public defenders, the police force. So we must be cautious with both sides of this coming debate. Firearms are machines, specifically designed to kill. Nevertheless, they also have the capacity to save lives. Firearms in the hands of professionals prevent harm. Firearms in the hands of criminals cause harm. New Zealand does not want the disgusting firearm culture of the States, so if we were to allow our police officers to carry arms, we must do it with caution. Extreme caution.
Thank goodness this is not America. Thank goodness ours is a relatively safe country, not at the mercy of the criminal. Thank goodness our politicians aren't insane, heartless, or at the mercy of equally-insane, and heartless lobby groups."
So in NZ, the majority of police do not carry weapons on their hips, and neither do the criminals. There are exceptions on both sides, such as our 'armed defenders' who are called out on special occasions. The police do not, in general, have super-hero martial arts skills. They mostly rely on their negotiating skills, and the fact that the criminals are usually equally unarmed. The police also now have tasers.
This comes back to what I said in the 'other' thread, that Americans seem to have mostly resigned themselves to internal terrorism. You cannot realise how sad this is if you have never lived somewhere where you don't fear an armed criminal (terrorist) behind every shadow. Maybe this is just the price America has to pay for being so successful, or maybe it is something that can change. But it won't change without a revolutionary change in attitudes and approaches to the problems. I am in no way saying things are perfect here We have very bad problems with domestic violence, child abuse and burglary. But these issues don't involve, on the whole, firearms. And most of the time they don't involve murder. It is so much easier to kill a person (or lots of people) with a firearm than it is with a knife, or cricket bat, or you fists.