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China: Traffic cops get machine guns

Categories: East Asia, China, Governance, Law

Do Chinese street cops need more weapons? [1] On the same day earlier this month that it was reported urban riot police [2] in one southern city [3] were undergoing training [4] to use crossbow [5]s, a new program began in south-central China's Chongqing Municipality [6] which, in addition to handguns and bulletproof vests, would see traffic police [2] there equipped with machine guns every night after nine for the purpose of carrying out drunk driving and traffic violation spot checks.

Sina blogger Zhou Pengan who made the two-city connection above points out [4] that current police firearm regulations make it illegal for machine guns to be used in routine traffic control work. The People's Police—quite different in nature from the People's Armed Police [7]—Wikipedia entry [2] puts the usage limit for lethal weapons at [to] “be used if necessary to stop violent riots, to lessen the overall loss of life, or to subdue surrounded but still resisting criminals. The regulations even governed use of sirens, police lights, and whistles.”

Zhou opines [4]:


As a riot cop, dealing with all sorts of outburst incidents, being equipped with a weapon or two is going to be very necessary for you, but what advantage comes with using upgraded versions of the crossbows our ancestors had in controlling riots? If you hoped to avoid killing people, you'd use tear gas, and it'd be much more effective; if you do plan on shooting people dead, then yeah, guns would obviously be more effective.

The latter news received quite a bit of coverage [8], and no shortage of discussion. Sina [9], via Kaysky.cn, did a poll [10] [photos included] on support for gun-toting traffic police, the response choices for which read:

1) I don't support this. Driving and walking at gunpoint is just too terrifying.
2) I support this. It's in accordance with the law and at the same time establishes police authority and deters crime, adding to citizens’ sense of security.
3) Whatever.


Readers of one post [11] on this at the WHXF bbs left the following select comments:


I'm really deterred! Won't be drinking and driving from now on; if I forget my license? Aiyee, gotta stay alive.


Just declare martial law and be done with it; the streets must be full of the enemy anyway, right?


I suggest they start using mortar fire; citizens will be more reassured.


Forcing harmony through terror


A gun for everyone, that'll be some good “river crab [12]


Besides the Armed Police [7], now we have Armed Traffic Police?

Writes one reader of the report at the NewsSSC bbs [13]:


Harmony [14] comes from the barrel of the the gun [15]…hehe.

And the top comments left at Netease's report [16]:


Haha, anyone in violation of regulations gets shot. Those are some scary cops.

重庆有那么乱吗? 查个车还要持冲锋枪!!!晕!!!!

Is Chongqing so messed up? They need machine guns just to check cars?!? Faint!!!!


Now you know what crime's like these days. Even traffic cops get guns. This isn't America yo, where everyone does have a gun.


They should give each of them a hand grenade too, now that would be some real power!


Anyone who breaks the rules gets shot on the spot