An Icelandic criminologist contends that giving police officers more weapons will do nothing to prevent shootings such as the one that happened in Reykjavík earlier this week.
Vísir reports that Helgi Gunnlaugsson, who is also a professor of sociology at the University of Iceland, believes that patience, not guns, is amongst the ways to help prevent violence from breaking out.
“When people start asking themselves whether the police need more firepower, it’s usually on the subject of organised crime, or something of that nature,” he told reporters. “But this appears to be about an unwell individual,” referring to last Monday’s shooting in east Reykjavík of a man who was firing a shotgun in his apartment, and at arriving police. The gunman was killed by gunfire from the Special Unit as his apartment was raided a second time.
“This is a personal tragedy, and the police being armed more would not have increased the security of those present,” he explained, adding that he believed arming police, in fact, can increase the danger of innocent people.
In Norway, as in Iceland, police officers do not carry guns as a part of their daily duties. “Police carrying a weapon is more common in other countries, such as Sweden. Research shows that deadly fire and [gun related] accidents are more common in Sweden than in Norway. Police weaponry does not necessarily mean the same thing as security for police officers and citizens.”
Helgi believes instead that “discussion, persuasion and patience” do a better job of defusing a violent situation than firearms would, adding that he could not say if the police lacked patience during last Monday’s incident.
While police armed with guns is not a popular idea in Iceland, the idea to import tasers has been brought up by police numerous times.