The Chinese, I’m told, have not regularly had armed police patrolling their streets. I’m not sure why that’s odd to me; perhaps my image of the authoritarian state, known mostly for their suppression of anything resembling dissent, includes police officers armed and ready to take down anyone daring to try that whole free speech thing we’re fond of here.
Apparently my image was incorrect, but faced with increasing attacks on the population the Chinese have decided that dealing with a mass machete or knife attack is best done with bullets, not empty hands. Thus, beat cops in Shanghai are packing heat!
They made an odd choice for a police weapon, however. Their new revolver shoots a 9mm round reportedly based on the ancient .38 S&W cartridge, which was somewhat popular when the Brits had colonies in Asia back at the turn of the 20th century. Why such an anemic round? An article in the Wall Street Journal posits that “Chinese ballistics engineers specifically designed the weapon to minimize risks associated with introducing handguns into a society that has little experience with firearms.” I’m not sure that’s good logic, but they seem to like it.
The gun features a thumb safety (on a revolver??), and officers carry one speedloader with live ammunition and another with rubber bullets (probably for crowd control.) The speedloaders are color-coded so the officer can tell which is which. If the previously linked WSJ article is accurate, officers are also required to walk their beat with their hand on their holstered weapon.
(Waitaminute! They’re giving police officers with little experience with firearms a gun that can use lethal and less-lethal rounds interchangeably, and differentiating them only by the color of the speedloader in which they’re carried? I think the results are predictable, don’t you?)
The Practical Eschatology blog has an excellent article with lots of pictures and great links; be sure to follow them, as there is a lot of interesting background information to be had.
-=[ Grant ]=-