Belgiums ban Police from taking guns home

The battered reputation of Belgium's security forces suffered a fresh blow yesterday when it emerged that police officers have been banned from taking guns home after a spate of suicides involving service pistols.

The ban is part of a pattern. Belgium's internal security service, the "Sûreté de l'État", disarmed almost all its field agents in April after one drunkenly tried to shoot a colleague in the head.

This time, uniformed police officers have been told to leave their guns in police stations at the end of their shifts, a spokesman for the interior minister confirmed.

The minister, Patrick Dewael, acted after learning that the suicide rate among policemen was twice the national average. So far this year 11 local policemen and two federal officers have killed themselves.

In a parliamentary reply, Mr Dewael said a temporary order had been issued on June 21, banning federal police from taking guns home. He said a similar order would follow for local police. Police forces in Belgium lost the confidence of the public after their bungling and rivalry allowed Marc Dutroux, a murderer and paedophile, to imprison young girls. He killed four before being caught in 1996. . . .

It is interesting how gun laws get enacted because of one bad act. Belgium has a relatively high murder rate despite these various bans. I doubt that this ban will have any effect on suicides by police.