In what may be the most obvious statement on the internet, Brexit supporter and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage recently called for UK police to be armed in order to stop terrorist attacks.
“If we’re going to take this threat seriously we absolutely have to routinely train and teach our police officers, whether it’s a gun or a taser or both, but we have to have armed police,” he said on his LBC radio show on Sunday.
The Government is “not doing enough to protect us from attack,” he continued, arguing that the London Bridge attack would not have been so devastating had the police been trained to use firearms.
“Had that [training police to use firearms] happened, on London Bridge that night those three terrorists would not have got into Borough Market and caused those terrible harrowing scenes,” he said.
Farage’s comments come in the wake of a partial bomb detonation on the London Tube that injured 29 people.
According to an NBC report from earlier this year, ninety percent of London’s police officers do not carry firearms. Only special units are trained to use firearms, leaving everyday police officers with nothing more than batons to keep law and order.
The rationale for unarmed law enforcement, according to NBC, was founded on the principle of “policing by consent” rather than by force. Arming police officers communicates the latter message and supposedly causes more problems than it solves.
“In a free and democratic society, there is going to be a balance between democracy, freedom and openness, and a police state — and none of us want to live in a police state,” said Brian Dillon, former head of the firearms command for the London police.
“Therefore at some point some attacks are regrettably going to hit home, that’s inevitable,” he added. “Not everything can be stopped.”
Farage believes the UK’s reluctance to arm police stems from the government’s misunderstanding of the threat posed by terrorism.
“My view on all of this is that our Government and governments right across Europe have been very, very reluctant to face up to the severity of the problem in front of us,” he said.
“Reluctant in many ways to admit their own mistakes. Because nearly all of this has been caused by government policy either in the last couple of years, or indeed in many cases over decades.”
“We’re constantly playing catch-up,” he concluded.