An officer fires during a training session at Changning District police station April 17.
Over 1,000 cops in Shanghai today began carrying revolvers on patrol in what marks the first day of a new security campaign aimed at improving police response to violent crimes in the aftermath of the March 1 Kunming stabbing spree which killed 29 people and left hundreds injured.
The Ministry of Public Security invested in the firearms and specially designed them for its police force. The police officers qualified to carry them after a training series and examinations on laws and psychology, according to the municipal public security bureau.
The police will carry out routine patrols in densely populated areas like urban centers and transport hubs.
Most police officers in China do not carry guns but instead arm themselves with clubs, pepper spray and handcuffs. Statistics from MPS show that 790 policemen died on duty from 2006 to 2011 in violent attacks or automobile crashes.
Yet, as Foreign Policy’s Tea Leaf Nation points out, a notable minority of people aren’t welcoming the idea of armed police in China. Following the Ministry of Public Security’s April 4 announcement that “front-line” police forces in China would begin receiving intensive weapons training courses, an online poll conducted by iFeng showed that 41 percent of surveyed participants did not support the move, while 59 percent of participants did.
Many have argued that the government’s near-zero tolerance for private gun ownership has kept China’s streets more clear of gun crime than other countries. Violent attacks like the one in Kunming, however, have put others on the fence.
Other cities involved in the campaign for boosting security include Changsha, Kunming, Urumqi and Lhasa, the ministry said.
Xinhua says that the three-month-long program aimed at training policeman in using firearms was launched in March. The training focuses on policemen who are patrolling streets and handling emergences in big cities and county-level regions, it said.
[Image via ECNS.cn]