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Officers with guns are not a photo op

GUNS and children are always happy bedfellows, are they not?

Well, possibly not in America, where ­children are 17 times more likely to be killed by firearms than in any other ­industrialised nation.

But hey, if I was a parent I'd ­definitely want my child to feel comfortable around guns. I'd want them to see firearms as a glamorous accessory, a little bit risque, a little bit risky.

Guns don't kill people, after all. Oh, wait, no. If I was a parent I'd want my children to be alarmed by the presence of guns and keep them and guns as far apart as I possibly could.

Sorry, sometimes I get confused. I can only hope that the parents I saw at Hampden Park last week were simply confused too.

At the Commonwealth Games ­closing ceremony there were two armed police officers stationed in the grounds bearing semi-automatic rifles. And there beside them was a queue of parents lining up their children to have a photo taken with the pair, who seemed happy to pose.

One wee chap of about six had the officers kneel on each side of him, their weapons pointing inwards. A dad, who couldn't be fagged waiting, pushed his baby daughter in her buggy into someone else's photo. The child had the good sense to give the side-eye to the rifle barrel mere centimetres from her nose.

Goggle-eyed, I came home and logged into Facebook, where several of my online friends were posing in photos with the same two armed cops.

Armed police on the streets is discomforting enough. Armed police who are happy to mug for photographs are disturbing. I wonder if this is some kind of Police Scotland strategy - to appear jolly and approachable so the public aren't nervous around the weapons.

I want the public to be nervous around the weapons and to stay as far away from these armed cops as is convenient. And I want the armed cops not just to be constantly vigilant but to be visibly constantly vigilant. I'm not entirely convinced that you can be vigilant while prepping your best side for the camera.

If we must have armed police, I want them wearing their guns with body armour and an impervious look.

The kind of look that says: "This is not glamorous. This is not The ­Kingdom, you are not Jamie Foxx. This could cut you in half."

In recent weeks there has been disquiet about armed police spotted on our streets. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says Scotland will never have a routinely armed police force, yet: "In a democracy it is right that it should be a decision of the chief constable and not a political minister or party." Mr MacAskill here seems to not understand the role of a politician, it being his task to speak for the people.

Channel 4 recently showed the ­documentary Kids and Guns, in which American gun nuts take their infants hunting with kiddie-sized weapons. The book My Parents Open Carry, again in the US, has created headlines worldwide for advocating handguns.

Such developments provoke ridicule in the UK. And yet there are people who see guns, perhaps due to their prevalence in Hollywood films, perhaps due to their rarity, as a bit of a lark. As something you'd want your child photographed beside, like the Hamleys bear or Santa.

It's not so long ago that Scottish police were using Facebook as a means to track down idiots posing with weapons. Now it seems there are officers helping create these pictures.

Whether you're for or against armed police on Scotland's streets, there's no argument against a clear code of behaviour for both police and public. Larking about for the camera while armed or admiring the arms falls far short. It's reprehensible, and you can shoot me if I'm wrong.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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