Gun swaps 'affect accuracy of police'
A GUN expert has claimed the accuracy of police marksmanship is reduced because uniformed officers rarely carry the same gun twice.
Uniformed officers are issued with a different gun each time they clock on for duty because they are not allowed to take them home. Only detectives keep their weapons.
Hong Kong Gun Club vice-president George Ireland said despite handguns being more standard than rifles, each one would differ slightly.
''Personally, I would say that if you had a different gun each day, accuracy [of shooting] is likely to be reduced,'' he said.
But police denied recent incidents - involving a member of the public being hit by a stray police bullet and a large number of rounds being fired during exchanges - were consequences of this policy.
They said the cost and logistics involved meant issuing officers with the same weapon each day was impractical.
Force spokesman Chief Superintendent Eric Lockeyear said: ''It is just not practical to offer each officer his own gun.
''For a start it would mean having to buy three times as many guns, costing the force millions of dollars.
''Then there would be all the management problems of officers changing shifts or being transferred to different stations.'' He said all the .38 heavy-barrelled guns were maintained to the same standards meaning they had equal trigger pressures, and were all the same size and weight.
Twenty shots were fired by police in a recent shootout with bank robbers in Tsim Sha Tsui and one of the bullets injured a passer-by.
Three weeks ago, 19 shots were fired by five officers at a suspected car thief - five hit him.
There is about one gun for every three of the 22,000 uniformed officers in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force.
Officers are given firearms training three times a year and undergo an annual test.
Deputy director of force training, Assistant Commissioner Peter Webb, said issuing different guns each day was not a problem because they were all identical.
''It is not like a rifle where you have to adjust the sight,'' he said.
Meanwhile, police look set to step up security two months after a sub-machine gun, two revolvers and ammunition were stolen from a Marine Police armoury at Sai Kung. A constable has been charged with theft.