CHINA / National

'Police should only shoot as last resort'
By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-12 05:57

The Ministry of Public Security reiterated that it supports the legal use of firearms by authorized police officers to shoot and kill criminals when their lives, or the lives of the public, are seriously threatened.

"Police officers are allowed to legally use guns," said ministry spokesman Wu Heping at a regular press briefing yesterday in Beijing.

He made such a remark in response to a statement made by Zhang Guifang, deputy Party secretary of Guangzhong, provincial capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

At a meeting on the city's public security situation last Tuesday, Zhang urged police officers "not to be afraid of shooting criminals when their lives or the lives of common people are seriously threatened. Otherwise, it would be deplorable for the Chinese police force," he said.

Wu echoed that legal use of guns by police officers is supported by the Criminal Law.

He said confrontations between the police and criminals have been escalating in recent years, as the society undergoes structural changes.

"Police officers often encounter great dangers in face-to-face fighting, and the use of guns is a powerful approach to combat crime."

Ministry figures show that of the 4,548 police officers killed or injured in the line of duty last, 43 per cent were trying to apprehend suspects. But Wu stressed that the Chinese police force have strict rules on gun use.

According to China's regulation on police gun use issued in 1996, officers are allowed to use guns in 15 different circumstances; such as riots, prison breaks, kidnapping, resisting arrest with weapons, and other situations that seriously threaten the lives of common people.

Police officers are required to give warnings to criminals before firing, unless there is no time for a warning, or if the warning may cause more serious life loss.

The regulation also stipulates that the police are not allowed to shoot pregnant women or children, unless they are committing violent crimes with guns, explosives or virulent drugs. Nor can police officers use guns in areas where large crowds are gathered or near stored explosives or radioactive materials.
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