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Friday, November 26, 2010

EDITORIAL: Armed agents in [Canadian] airports invite trouble

Good one: "Luckily no one suggested they buy tasers instead."

November 26, 2010
Globe and Mail Editorial

Apparently some hostile travellers have been shouting at Canada’s unarmed border services agents at airports. Some travellers have acted in a threatening manner, and at times assaulted the agents for no reason at all. And so the Canada Border Services Agency is considering arming these agents, though there is no shortage of RCMP and other armed police officers at airports to protect them. It has called for bids on a study of the risks and benefits of putting weapons in the agents’ hands.

We could have saved them the money. (A donation, though, would be appreciated.) It is hard to fathom the purpose of arming these agents in airports. Would they be permitted to shoot people who yell at, threaten and assault them? Or are the guns simply meant as a deterrent, a way to promote respect among the travelling public?

Either way, the notion that guns breed respect is flawed. There are other ways to gain respect. True, some people – a sliver of a minority – may always be hostile to state officials, even to the kindest, smiliest border guard. That still leaves the problem of what to do with the guns. Shoot the hostile? (Luckily no one suggested they buy tasers instead.)

Adding to the number of guns (or tasers) in airports is an invitation to danger. The answer to a nail may be a hammer. But the answer to occasional public hostility is not a gun.

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