Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Experts oppose Zeman's call on people to arm themselves

ČTK |
2 August 2016

Prague, Aug 1 (CTK) - Most Czech security experts whom CTK addressed yesterday do not like President Milos Zeman's call on common people to arm themselves in order to help fight the terrorist threat, but they agreed that Czech citizens should be more prepared for crisis situations.
People should carry arms so that they can use them if there is an attack by terrorists, Zeman told the Internet television channel of the tabloid daily Blesk on Sunday. Zeman said he had been against an increase in the number of legal arms among people, but that he changed his opinion due to the terror threat.
Ondrej Ditrych, an analysis focusing on terrorism, said if such a call is made by the president, it may undermine trust in the security forces, in the ability of the state bodies to guarantee security of the inhabitants.
He pointed out that the Czech arms legislation is very liberal, including the conditions under which people may carry hidden arms.
According to Ditrych, it has not been proved that more firearms among people would help prevent terrorist attacks.
He also said the divide between those who should arm and defend themselves ("us") and the dangerous "others" is artificial and it may divide society.
Security expert Frantisek Sulc said he does not consider it a problem if more people owned arms legally, but he said this alone is not a solution. "People do not just need to have a pistol at hand, but they also must be capable of using it adequately," he told CTK.
If people are not trained in using arms, they may do more harm than good, Sulc said.
It is primarily the security forces that must deal with defence against terrorism, he added.
Military officer Otakar Foltyn, one of the authors of a book on security affairs, shares this view. "Generally, the calls on people to arm themselves are only the most extreme measure in a situation of a huge threat," he said.
Foltyn said the state should make its armed bodies more effective, markedly strengthen their reserves and give more support for military sports and the preparation of people for crisis situations.
In the recent history, the Algerian government repeatedly resorted to the armament of civilians against Islamists after more than 100,000 people died during an Islamist uprising, he said.
"Luckily, the Czech Republic definitely is not in such a situation," Foltyn said.
Political analyst Josef Kraus, from Masaryk University, supported Zeman's call. He said a bad guy with a gun can only be stopped by a good guy with a gun. Policemen often are not immediately available, he said.
Kraus said many civilians in Israel carried arms and they underwent courses on how to proceed in crisis situations.
Foltyn disagreed with this interpretation, however. He said the number of armed civilians in the Czech Republic is two times higher than in Israel. "And Israel primarily relies on strong state armed forces and only secondarily on civilians who are rather well prepared," he said.
kva/t

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