Arms and the woman

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 June, 1997, 12:00am

I talked with my friends recently about the issue of women police officers carrying guns and they all felt that female officers should no longer be allowed to carry them.

However, I do not share their point of view. In the first place, experience in Western countries has shown that armed women officers are no different than their male counterparts.

Before they go on patrol, they have to undergo vigorous physical training, shooting exercises and stamina tests.

Even if they pass all these tests, they then have a simulation test to see if they can remain calm in real-life gun battles.

For example, women applying to become FBI agents in the US are warned about the physical tasks ahead of them.

This ensures that once trained, there will be no shadow of doubt that they are capable of combating crime.

I would like those who are sceptical about policewomen carrying guns, to ask if it is fair to leave them unarmed and vulnerable to attack, even when they have shown they are capable of handling firearms. I am not a feminist, but I strongly believe that woman officers should be treated fairly in this respect.

It should not even be an issue about women, but about training.

It is a question of being treated not as a woman, but as a police officer, irrespective of gender, whose job is to fight crime and who has to be given the tools to do that.

A recent report from the Hong Kong Police Force revealed that the average shooting accuracy rates of woman officers are higher than their male counterparts. Moreover, before the introduction of armed woman police, there were cases of gun snatching from male officers by felons.

This shows that safety depends heavily on training, not gender. Some people may think that woman police officers seldom go on patrol alone, so why should they need guns? But there is an old saying, 'Two is better than one'.

Having a capable colleague can be a great bonus. What do those opposed to an armed female officer expect? That she should duck for shelter and watch her partner risk his life, instead of helping out? It is utterly ridiculous and it only exposes the chauvinism of men.

I would also like to point out the physical capabilities of women officers. For many years the physical power and force of women have been seriously challenged. However, fighting crime does not rely on brute force alone. There are always some gangs out there much stronger than you. To beat them, you need intelligence as well as a careful attitude. When it comes to intelligence and caution, I think women are more than a match for men.

Last but not least, having women equipped with guns can help raise morale. It boosts their confidence, because they know that their superiors have faith in their ability. This inevitably leads to a more positive attitude in the fight against crime. I would be interested to know what other readers think about this issue.

KIRK MA Kowloon