'The mere sight of an armed police officer in this country makes me instantly furious and miserable. Sometimes I just have to look away, while I collect myself. Then I hurry off, as fast as I can.
This is instinctive and emotional. But it is not irrational. The reasons for it run deep. I was brought up in a country which was actively proud that its police were not armed.
Now I am told that rural police are to be armed on the excuse that this will guard our shires against terrorism. It is a pretext. It just means that, like everywhere else, our police will routinely have firearms. This will be the end of Britain as it was.
We used to think that other, less happy nations might need to use guns to keep order. We did not. And for many years I returned from travels abroad and rejoiced at this difference between my home and foreign lands.
As George Orwell said, the beer was bitterer and the coins were heavier. And the police were different. They weren't the unapproachable scowling army of the state, they were the police of a free, peaceful population, our allies against crime and disorder.
Then, after an especially long stint overseas, I came back, looked for the familiar constables I was used to, and I found that we now had cops instead. It was the beginning of one of the most profound changes in our society that has ever taken place, one about which we were not consulted, and which was never openly discussed.'
Read more: Peter Hitchens: We need proper constables - not these swaggering gunmen
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