Monday, January 17, 2005

The right to bear arms

The recent shooting of a VCD seller by a Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs officer surely seems a little shocking as reported by the Star. What my thoughts about the issue is not who is wrong or right in the incident. True the person shot was conducting an illegal trade and the officer were entittled to use firearms if situation presented a danger to the officer's safety. Yet the active use of firearms especially in a civilian heavy area must be exercised with caution and not with a trigger happy notion. When several officers are faced with assailants with a bat of which has not been found as to date, surely more restraint can be observed such as stating their intention to use force if the assaulters put up resistance or that a warning shot was first released to show the consequences of their action.

The shots were fired at such a close quarter that after Yeoh Yew Jin was shot, the bullet passed through his body and lodged itself in the back of Chow Heng Khow who was eating nearby. It is a chilling thought that if I was the one in his shoes and happily enjoying a meal and suddenly found a stabbing pain in my back which turned out to be a stray bullet. I would want to be sure that my safety as a civilian would be assured and that the personal wearing the firearm is well trained and level headed enough to be in charge of a weapon as not to cause collateral damage while in the line of duty. How many hours of training and weapon handling have been given to the officers to carry out their duty? How is it assertained that they are fit and clear headedly firing a shot at their target when caught in a tense situation?

I respect the right of the officer to ensure the safety of his being concerning risky dealings with VCD mobsters that are not afraid to use for to cause harm in trying to avoid arrest. We all know that gangsters running the VCD schemes are not shy to use violence with the utilization of weapons and strength in numbers. In dealing with the scourge the department is understaffed to contain the enormity if the situation. Yet judgement of the officers must also be tempered with caution for themselves, for the assailent and also for bystanders, their aim in the heat of the moment is to effect an arrest, not to cause the death of a VCD peddler. Uniformed personals such as the Army or Police spend a huge amount of time and training in the use of firearms and maybe they are the one that should be dutied to the official use of it. It might be hard for two departments to coordinate efforts and it may well be an impracticle exercise. Maybe evaluations should be conducted for officers entitled to use weapons as in how well they can control emotions in a heated situation and performance under endurance. Inquieries are still underway to ascertain the true situation that occured which is still sketchy.

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