Police firearms carriage: Are we safer? Are they safer?

R. Sarre

University of South Australia

Corresponding author: rick.sarre@unisa.edu.au

In 2015 in a Sydney, New South Wales court, an offender turned violent, knocking out a prosecutor and having to be restrained by seven police officers. It took five minutes for police to find a pair of handcuffs to complete the restraint. The Police Association argued, in response, that such incidents are among the many reasons police officers should be allowed to carry their weapons in courthouses. He criticised the Chief Magistrate and Sheriff’s Office for continuing to prohibit officers from wearing firearms in court, thereby endangering police and members of the public. The routine arming of police has been debated for decades. This paper will review current themes and trends in Australia and New Zealand regarding not only firearms in court precincts but more generally in patrol activities. Are we safer if police are routinely armed? Are police safer?


Rick teaches criminology at the law school of the University of South Australia.