There is a decidedly weird fetishization of guns and the possession of guns that characterizes some serving and former members of An Garda Síochána, especially those with a decidedly authoritarian bent. They, and some like-minded
fanboys journalists, are quite obsessed with with the concept of big toys for big boys, and this is never truer than when it comes to the veneration of the UZI submachine gun. First designed and manufactured in Israel during the 1940s and ’50s the weapon was created with one eye on operational requirements and one eye on the perceived need for a domestic supply of armaments for the new Jewish State. It was, in crude terms, an industrial-level home-made submachine gun (and one actually based on Czech designs). Introduced into service in 1954 it eventually became the main personal defence weapon of second-line troops with the IDF, especially vehicle and artillery crews, as well as some specialist units. Since that time it has gone through several variants, refining an originally basic but effective design, until the weapon’s limitations – notably the short and relatively inaccurate range of fire, especially when on automatic – saw it being withdrawn from service with most front-line formations in the 1980s and early ’90s.
So it is rather bizarre to learn that some gardaí are apparently demanding the (re-)introduction of a decades old submachine gun for use by our largely unarmed, civilian police service, especially given its well-earned reputation amongst criminal gangs and terrorists as a murderously indiscriminate “point-and-burst” weapon. Of course this demand ignores the fact that around 25% of gardaí are licensed to carry a range of modern weapons including Heckler & Koch MP7 and MP5 submachine guns, not to mention semi-automatic handguns like the Walther P99C and Sig Sauer P226, all of which are in service. Witness this opinion piece in the Herald:
“RANK-and-file gardai were out in force at the annual Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference this week.
High on the agenda was a motion demanding the reinstatement of the Uzi sub-machine gun for all armed officers.
The weapon was decommissioned in 2012 after garda management deemed it unsuitable for garda purposes. One of the reasons given was the danger of deploying it in a confined space.
Many members of the force are clearly still mystified by this decision. The Uzi was the mainstay of the Special Branch detective unit for more than half-a-century after replacing the ageing and unreliable Thompson sub-machine gun.
With its rapid rate of fire and reliability it was a formidable deterrent and was much feared by the paramilitaries on all sides.
I cannot think of a single valid reason why this weapon was withdrawn from service. The explanation that the UZI was unsuitable in an armed confrontation that might occur in a crowded public space or in a confined room didn’t wash with me.
In 2013 an armed gang shot Det Gda Adrian Donohoe dead outside the Lordship Credit Union in Co Louth. It was a brutal, premeditated and cold-blooded murder that shocked and sickened the whole country.
Det Gda Donohoe previously carried an Uzi, but it had been withdrawn in favour of a handgun. Would he have stood a better chance with an Uzi that evening? We’ll never know, but the thought does occur.”
Yes, the thought does occur: of gardaí armed with submachine guns based on sixty year old designs manufactured for toe-to-toe battlefield engagements blasting away on full automatic at criminals armed with shotguns and handguns, spraying the streets of otherwise quiet country towns with aimed bullets and aimless ricochets. What could possibly go wrong with that?