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Gun owners could help fight terror attacks: UK commissioner

Press Trust of India  |  London 

A police commissioner in the has caused alarm among rank and file officers after she controversially suggested that civilians with gun licences could be allowed to use weapons to defend their community against terrorists.

Alison Hernandez, the Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner, said she was interested in having a conversation with the chief constable about whether ordinary people with gun licences could assist in a terrorist crisis.


The comments caused alarm within the force and prompted a stern warning from a senior officer that citizens should not arm themselves, The Guardian reported.

Hernandez, a former Conservative agent, made her comments during an extraordinary exchange with a caller to a phone-in programme on BBC Radio Cornwall.

The caller, from Bude in north Cornwall, said she was a gun owner and a former firearms dealer and asked, "If there should ever be a terrorist attack, what happens if I and other people try to defend themselves using those guns? What would be the repercussions?"

Hernandez replied that it was a "a very good question" and asked the woman if she would put it in writing so that the chief constable, Shaun Sawyer, could consider it.

But she then said, "This might be some of our solution to our issues."

When challenged by the presenter if she was advocating vigilantism, Hernandez replied, "I'm just saying, let's officially have a look at that and see what would be the implications of it. Let's unpick it a little bit."

"We work with businesses to keep our communities safe. I'd really be interested in exploring that with the chief constable," Hernandez said.

The presenter said he could not believe the chief constable would entertain the idea of the public defending themselves with firearms.

Hernandez said, "I'm sure he wouldn't want to entertain it, but these are times that are challenging and I would like to have an official response on that myself."

Her comments come just days after a suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester claimed 22 lives and an attack at the London Bridge by three terrorists, who drove a van into pedestrians and then went on a stabbing spree, killed eight persons.

The official response to Hernandez' comments came from the deputy chief constable, Paul Netherton, who said, "Quite obviously, a marauding terrorist is the most challenging of circumstances. The police response requires significant professionalism and training as well as firearms capability."

"During these incidents, highly trained police firearms officers and special forces will be deployed to protect our communities," Netherton said.

"Under no circumstances would we want members of the public to arm themselves with firearms, not least because officers responding would not know who the offenders were, and quite obviously they would not have the time to ask. Our message to the public is a simple one: to run, to hide and to tell," he added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 13 2017. 19:48 IST
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