Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Is the Contribution of Gun Ownership to Police Shooting Unarmed Incidents?

I write this as the protests in Ferguson, MO continue. The proximate cause of the upheaval in Ferguson is that an unarmed, black teen was fatally shot (many times) by white police officers.

This is a huge story, with many layers and facets. This blog post is addressing only the phenomenon of unarmed civilian suspects being fatally--in hindsight, entirely unnecessarily--shot by police officers. My intent is not to excuse or even comment highly specifically on Ferguson, or any one incident. But there is a more general issue, well worth considering.

As much as anybody else, I deplore an unnecessary death. I also believe that being young, male and black unfairly raises one's chances of being the victim by an order of magnitude.

But other countries have racial prejudice within their police forces. There is something different in the U.S. That something is the significant possibility that the suspect may have a gun. It seems very obvious that this fact is going to push police to err on the side of shooting. In fact, police in the U.K. do not routinely carry firearms!!! And yes, it is true: In 2013, U.K. police in total fired fewer shots then one officer fired into Michael Brown.

Trigger-happy, indeed.

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