A 43-year-old Police Sergeant with 18 years’ service died at the San Fernando General Hospital last night after he was shot with his own 380 Baretta pistol yesterday afternoon while trying to apprehend bandits.
So, if a trained policeman who was fully aware of the danger he was heading towards could have his gun turned on him, then how does the revolver in 82-year-old Ken Gordon’s ankle holster help the Integrity Commission chairman if he is surprised by an assailant?
Is it potentially more dangerous for citizens to be armed?
“People tend to want to protect themselves, families and businesses,” gun advocate and the PM’s national security advisor, Gary Griffith told the Trinidad Guardian. “Having a firearm gives a sense of security in that you have a chance to protect yourself against the criminal elements out there.”
A gun did not keep Sgt Hayden Manwaring safe despite the fact that he has more practice in drawing and firing a weapon than any civilian with a full-time job. And the Sergeant was not caught unawares as most victims would be when bandits show up.
“In the Defence Force, annual testing or personal weapons training is mandatory to prevent negligent discharge,” said Griffith, “which is a basic security measure to make sure you don’t fire off a shot that you did not want to… You have to be able to load and unload your weapon, and point in the correct direction…”
Griffith’s tips would not have saved South African model Reeva Steenkamp who was shot dead by her boyfriend and Paralympic star sprinter Oscar Pistorius on Valentine’s Day.
Licensed gunsmith Barry Kowlessar added: “Being able to defend yourself depends on your training. It must be constant and you must have a proper mindset and be prepared at all times.”
What sort of training will ensure that the gun next to the lamp would not a hazard to the accountant who owns it when a voice says “don’t move” at 3 am? Presumably, Kowlessar got his tutoring from the same school as the fictional CIA assassin, Jason Bourne.
By means of consolation, the men that allegedly shot Manwaring might not have gotten far.
After a massive police search on land, air and sea that included officers from the Southern, Central and South Western divisions, four suspects were held within four hours of the shooting.
So, the next time you want timely justice because a loved one was shot, Mr Live Wire suggests you say the following words: “Officer down.”
Editor’s Note: Sgt Hayden Manwaring was the seventh officer killed on the job since 2002.