Following the Kunming massacre disaster (knife attacks on March 1 at a train station in China's southwestern city of Kunming left 33 people dead and 130 injured) and the recent violent civilian unrest against the Chengguan, The Wall Street Journal reports that over the weekend, more than 1,000 street-patrol officers began carrying 9mm revolvers, Shanghai's Public Security Bureau said. Several other cities across China were set to begin similar programs. Officials said officers are getting training in the largest cities in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan, where Kunming is the capital. This comes over 60 years since Mao Zedong - who famously said "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" - stripped weapons from many police officers shortly after he rose to power in 1949.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, over the weekend, more than 1,000 street-patrol officers began carrying 9mm revolvers, Shanghai's Public Security Bureau said.
Shanghai officers, according to the city police bureau, will increasingly be equipped "to respond to all violence and terror" with a revolver using real and rubber bullets.
It said officers are getting training in the largest cities in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan, where Kunming is the capital.
"They would be able to react more quickly to emergencies if they carry guns on duty," said criminal lawyer Zhang Ping of Beijing Yuandu Law Firm. He said Chinese law-enforcement officers have long had access to guns but usually leave their weapons at station houses.
"I don't know if this is a positive or negative development for Chinese police,"
The move marks one of the biggest policy turns in law-enforcement strategy in decades...
Mao Zedong —who famously said "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun"—stripped weapons from many police officers shortly after he rose to power in 1949.
As civilian gun controls tightened significantly through the 1960s, some basic law-enforcement duty shifted to neighborhood committees run by the Communist Party.
Under Shanghai's new gun policy, police weapons will be numerically controlled and armed officers are required to write a report each time they so much as pull the weapon from its locked holster.
The police statement said selected officers received at least 24 hours of classroom training and 100 practice shots to start, and played down risks that a weapon could go off accidentally or get stolen.
In the past year, 449 police officers died in the line of duty, up 4.4% from 2012, the Ministry of Public Security said.
While the agency's statistics don't make clear whether violence caused those deaths, police in China died on the job at a rate marginally higher than their U.S. counterparts
We leave it to Beijing's police official to conclude...
"Violent crime and the extreme behavior of some individuals have become real threats to public security and people's safety...
From now on, Shanghai police can open fire to stop violent crime if faced with situations like the Kunming attack."
One has to ask, why now? What are officials so afraid of?