Last year my daughter and I had occasion to visit an unidentified police station somewhere in Northern Ireland.
We sat quietly in the waiting area whereupon we became unintentional listeners to other visitors’ conversation with the police receptionist as all visitors had to relate their business in a very public manner to said receptionist.
That was an education to say the least as we heard about some woman’s ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s jealousy and tales of visits to the local pub which nearly ended in fisticuffs.
Spellbinding stuff indeed. We have lived a very sheltered life!
Just as we were attempting to make sense of the Kirk Douglas film which was showing in the station at the time, and beginning to doze off, we witnessed something we never thought we would see in a police station (and here we become deadly serious) two men (civilians) walked in, one of them carrying a rifle or shotgun!
CCTV cameras are in operation outside police stations, yet a man with a gun was able to walk in and sit down!
All of a sudden we did not feel at all safe, despite the fact that armed police were in the building, because none of those armed police seemed to know (or care) about the presence of an armed man in their midst.
We could not believe our eyes.
Was he a terrorist? Was he a psychopath bent on random killing? We didn’t know.
We did know that if he were either, we would be completely defenceless.
When we were called into a room by a police officer, the first thing we said was “Officer, there’s a man in the waiting area with a gun.”
We felt it was more important to report this situation first and then discuss the matter that brought us to the station in the first place.
The police officer quickly left the room (he did not go to the waiting area) and soon returned to inform us that everything was alright and the man was there to register a gun (or something to that effect) and that he (the police officer) had “no issue with it.”
I made it clear that my daughter and I HAD an issue with it and I wanted him to take note of this, because he appeared not to care that we had been very frightened by the incident and he was very dismissive of our concerns.
Northern Ireland has known the scourge of terrorism for years and yet a man was able to walk into a police station with a huge gun and no police officer batted an eyelid.
We were more concerned (or so it seems) with the safety of the police and others and ourselves than the police were about our safety.
The police need to put other arrangements in place for gun registration (or whatever it was) instead of subjecting members of the public to fear.