In Impromptus today, I have a note — just a small note — on the Norway massacre. If you want to read a really good post, see David Pryce-Jones, here. In my column, I recall a conversation I had with a staffer at the Norwegian Nobel Institute last year. He told me that the police in his country are unarmed. He said this with some pride. I thought, “It doesn’t seem to me that police ought to be unarmed. What if others do have arms?” But people are entitled to their own ways; societies are entitled to their own ways.
Norway will probably be a different country after last week. This morning, I read the following in a news article: “When word of the shooting came, police drove rather than take a helicopter because the crew of the sole chopper available to them was on vacation.”
That occasioned another flashback: A man who spends a lot of time in Norway told me, about three years ago, “Don’t try to reach a government official at his desk in the summer. It’s impossible.”
In another news article, I saw this: “[The killer’s lawyer] said Tuesday his client was surprised he even made it onto the island without being stopped by police, never mind that he was left to fire his assault rifle and handgun for so long.”
Obviously, the police in Norway have come under heavy criticism from their countrymen, as well as from foreigners like me. A murderer was allowed to hunt down human beings for a full hour and a half, completely unopposed. Everyone else was unarmed. You can kill a lot of people in 90 minutes, if you have guns and no one else does.
But I found somewhat poignant — just a little poignant — the following sentences, in the second article I’ve linked to: “Police spokesman Johan Fredriksen rebuffed criticism Tuesday of the planning and equipment failures, calling such comments ‘unworthy.’ ‘We can take a lot, we’re professional, but we are also human beings,’ he said.”