Face Off: Is it necessary for all HK police officers to carry firearms?

Joanne MaSnehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week …

Joanne MaSnehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari |

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Do Hong Kong police still need to carry guns?

Any travel guide, expat forum, global survey or local you consult would tell you Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world. Statistics would back this up, showing local crime rates to be significantly lower than most other cities around the world.

You’ll also notice that all Hong Kong police officers currently carry firearms, and I think they have the right to as their job is to keep the city safe.

The carrying of firearms by police allows officers to create a safety net for themselves and be able to defend themselves in threatening situations where they are faced with armed criminals. Although such incidents are rare in

Hong Kong, the firearms act as a deterrent, preventing many criminals from behaving in a violent manner that could have deadly consequences.

If police were not armed, there would be a higher chance of retaliation when they are dealing with criminals, who could be carrying a gun or other weapon, posing a serious danger to the officers.

What’s more, firearms influence public perception. The presence of firearms indicates that the government is prioritising public security and is also setting the correct tone as to what is acceptable in society and what isn’t. Therefore, residents believe that if their lives were to be in danger, the police would be well-prepared and able to ensure their safety.

Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari, 18, University of Melbourne, Australia

Have you ever heard of a mass shooting in Hong Kong or a deadly dangerous situation which required an armed response? Struggling to come up with more than one example? My point exactly.

In a city like Hong Kong where the crime rate hit a historic low in 2018, it really begs the question: what is the point in arming police officers?

Statistics show there is no need for police to be armed for a drastic response. Last year, the number of violent crimes declined significantly, and there has seldom been a robbery that involved firearms. So why do we need fire to fight fire if there is none to begin with?

Not only is arming police pointless in the context of the city’s safety record, it is also a drain on Hong Kong’s financial resources. With roughly 30,000 serving members of the police force since 2017, giving every officer a handgun costs millions of dollars.

Some people may feel uncomfortable and even unsafe when they see police weapons on display, so it would be better for them to not carry guns on them at all. Perhaps some special officers can be armed in case a situation calls for it, but I don’t think all police officers need to carry firearms.

In conclusion, Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe and well-policed city means there is simply no need for every police officer to carry a firearm.

Emily Li, 15, Renaissance College

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

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