Draft law outlines appropriate use of guns by police officers
China is soliciting public opinion about a draft law that would give police more authority to use guns, as well as outline the circumstances when such use would be inappropriate.
According to the draft, police could use guns after their warnings are ignored if the suspects are seriously endangering national and public security, if they endanger people’s lives or if they try to escape.
In addition, if suspects attack armed police or if armed police are in danger of being attacked, or if the suspects violently resist or block police from legally carrying out their duties, police can use their guns.
“The amended draft law provides a legal basis for police officers to use weapons when handling some emergencies,” said Li Wei, a lawyer from the Beijing Lawyers Association.
“It clearly regulates when police officers can use guns, which will effectively prevent them abusing weapons and will ensure justice,” Li said.
The Ministry of Public Security will be collecting suggestions on its website until the end of this month, and the draft will later be submitted to the National People’s Congress for discussion and approval.
According to the draft, when police discover suspects are pregnant or are children, when the suspects are in a public place, or where flammable, explosive or poisonous articles are being kept, offi- cers shouldn’t use guns.
Moreover, when suspects stop and follow police direction, or they can no longer attack, police should not use guns.
In recent years, some police officers have abused their power and shot suspects, causing heated public debate about whether guns were used in a proper manner.
“Regulating the use of guns reflects humanitarianism and flexible law enforcement,” said Cheng Lei, a law professor from Renmin University of China.
“Such a regulation shows both the necessity to use weapons and the control needed to reduce damage,” said Xiong Qiuhong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ law institute.