When the news came in about the shootings in New Zealand on 15 March my first thought was: Taihape. Or Pahiatua. Or Bulls. One of those small, dark-shadowed towns that sit alone in the interior of the country, surrounded by hills dense with bush and acres of paddocky grass that gets scraped back to the bone of dry earth in the summer heat. It’s been a long summer, there, New Zealand friends have been telling me, high, high temperatures, and no break in the weather. And yes, I thought, straight away: I can see someone opening fire in one of those places. Having grown up in New Zealand, though a long time ago, and knowing a bit about those remote communities – with their corrugated-iron shopfronts and pub doors flung upon into the evening with the sounds of men’s voices like a raging tide inside in the darkness, the smell of DB and Tui beer and cigarettes, and the utes parked up waiting for them with farm gear baled on the back, a few dogs scrabbling on the trailer – well, I remember guns.
Click here to read an expanded, updated version of this piece in the latest issue of the paper. While in Washington, DC, negotiations over a border wall remain at an impasse, a case is unfolding in a federal district courtroom in Brooklyn that casts President Trump’s ambition in a new light. Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman stands accused of running Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, and trafficking billions of dollars’ worth of drugs into the United States.
Mohammed Yassar Yaqub, a 27-year-old man from Huddersfield, was killed last Monday during a ‘pre-planned policing operation’. Reports of his death suggest that the car Yaqub was travelling in on the M62 was ‘hard stopped’ by firearms officers: the police ambushed the car, boxing it in and immediately drawing their weapons. The few images of the scene which have circulated in the past week show several bullet holes in the car’s windscreen. How Yaqub died is pretty clear. To learn why will take some time.
Last Thursday, Sadiq Khan announced that from April next year there will be 400 more firearms officers in London. ‘Nothing is more important than keeping London safe,’ the mayor said in his first major announcement concerning the capital’s policing. The Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, had asked for more armed police after last November’s terror attacks in Paris. On 1 April, Downing Street announced that £143 million would be spent on ‘increasing the number of specially trained armed officers’. But senior figures in the police are telling the BBC that still isn’t enough.
The National Rifle Association, which likes to describe itself, apparently without irony, as 'America's oldest civil rights organisation', recently held its annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona.