It is instructive that UK Met. Commissioner said recently that shooting to wound is a fiction

Dear Editor,

Allow me one last opportunity to deal with some of the comments of Francis Carryl, the answers to which were clearly evident in the two letters I wrote on the issue of the use of deadly force by the Guyana Police Force. Mr. Carryl asks me to cite the section of the Law that speaks to the issue of deadly force, and makes the simplistic argument that since the Police are trained to shoot to kill, giving life saving attention to those they shot represented a contradiction. Mr. Carryl seem to be living in a world of his own making. Soldiers go into battle in wars with the bloody intention of wiping each other’s enemies off of the map. Their instructions in training is not to wound the enemy, it is to kill them. The fact that the Geneva conventions, though recognizing this as a reality, still demand that those who are shot on the other side and are wounded must be afforded medical attention, also has to be a contradiction, that is, if one were to follow the line of reasoning being advanced by Mr. Carryl.

Any use of a firearm amounts to the use of deadly force. The firearm was not made for any other purpose but to kill. Whenever one resorts to the use of a firearm, one is in effect using deadly force. The decision to shoot at someone is in effect a decision to use deadly force. Mr. Carryl continues to demand that I present evidence that the Police are not trained to wound, when nothing in the section of the laws dealing with the use of force implies or says that. Mr. Carryl looks at words that advises when the Police are authorized to fire, and despite the absence of any phrase or suggestion that corroborates his position, simply leaps to that understanding.

I repeat, police training in the use of firearms focuses fire at the body of the target, not the legs and arms. Examine any such exercise in any part of the world, not only Guyana, involving the training in target shooting, and the point of focus is the area that would represent the torso of the perpetrator. To support this position I beg leave of the newspaper to present a portion of a news article that makes this pellucidly clear. This is from the London Evening Standard last year, and covers the response of then Commissioner of the Met Sir Ian Blair, to the same kind of arguments being postulated by Mr. Carryl as the legal guidelines for Law Enforcement when resorting to the use of firearms.

We can’t shoot to wound

Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent 09.06.08

“Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair today defended the actions of police firearms officers in the wake of the Markham Square shooting, saying the idea of being able to “shoot to wound” was “fiction”.  Barrister Mark Saunders was killed by marksmen at his £2.2million flat in Chelsea after firing a shotgun at passers-by and police.

The 32-year-old fired his gun from the windows of his home into neighboring houses after apparently going on a drinking session in the middle of the day. There were questions over the shooting after it emerged that he had suffered five gunshot wounds and a total of nine marksmen had opened fire.

Mr Saunders’s parents, Rodney and Rosemary, asked why it had not been possible for police to bring the 6 May siege to a peaceful end.  One firearms expert told the Evening Standard that police should explore a new policy in armed standoffs to allow trained snipers in certain situations to wound a gunman before capturing him.

Today Sir Ian said the idea that you could shoot someone in the arm to disable them was not practical. He said: “The idea of being able to shoot to wound is fictional. For a start if you shoot someone in a limb it does not stop them using the other limb to shoot back.  “You are only going to be shooting at somebody who is shooting at you who is posing an immediate threat to you or someone else.”

Sir Ian said he could not comment in detail on the shooting because of the inquiry.  But he emphasized that it was extremely rare for police firearms officers to fire their weapons.  He said: “The Met is called to about 10,000 suspected firearms incidents every year and in the 12 months before Markham Square the Met fired three shots. This is not a gung-ho operation.

“We do not shoot very often but if someone is shooting at us or at other people then the chances are that someone is going to fire back.  “We have to make sure that that level of 10,000 incidents and three shots is maintained. But what we cannot do is to guarantee that somebody who is posing a immediate threat to life is not going to be shot if they continue to do that.”

The IPCC said it had established there were three separate exchanges of gunfire between Mr Saunders and various police officers surrounding the property he shared with Ms Clarke, 40.

Mr Saunders was fatally injured after the third exchange.  Specialist teams stormed the flat and found the barrister wounded. Attempts were made to revive him but he died at the scene”.

I believe that it is futile to respond to the question by Mr. Carryl as to why the Police seek to give aid to those they shoot when they are shooting to kill. That is akin to questioning the rationale of providing medical attention to someone on death row who attempts to commit suicide prior to their date with the gallows. Those who are murky in their understanding of things like these, as Carryl certainly seem to be, cannot be enlightened by the likes of me. I believe that the postulations of Sir Ian Blair, in response to the same kind of argument being presented by Mr. Carryl, more than give added weight to my contentions and explanations. That is my last word in this exchange thread.

Yours faithfully,
Robin Williams

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