The killing of two female police officers in Greater Manchester has prompted the usual calls, first for the restoration of the death penalty for police murder and, second, for the arming of the police.
The first can be dismissed at once. The second is more complicated. For while it would be wrong to take such a decision hastily in the wake of the latest killings, there are dangers, too, in stubbornly wanting to preserve the British exception for its own sake. Having an armed police force might deter some criminals, but it does not prevent officers being targeted and killed. Indeed, there is some reason to believe the opposite: that arming the police may encourage criminals not just to carry weapons, but to use them. Police mistakes also become more lethal.