THE shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is a reminder that civilians—innocent or guilty—are far more likely to be shot by police in America than in any other rich country. In 2012, according to data compiled by the FBI, 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police—409 with guns. That figure may well be an underestimate. Not only is it limited to the number of people who were shot while committing a crime, but also, amazingly, reporting the data is voluntary.
Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero.
Blacks make up 3.5 percent of the population in England—about 2 million souls. Not a single one of them was fatally shot by the British police in 2012—nor was one of the 3 million brown Brits. Why? Because white British cops are less racist? No, they can be as racist as the white cops on this side of the pond. What is missing is in the UK is not the racism but the guns. The problem with policing in the US is that it can go from zero to lethal within seconds. And it is this kind of environment that makes it possible for one white officer in a St. Louis suburb to, in a matter of seconds, shoot one black man (Michael Brown) more times (6) than the entire police force in the UK fired their weapons at anyone in an entire year (there are 31 million seconds in a year).
In Britain, guns are rare. Only specialist firearms officers carry them; and criminals rarely have access to them
Again, enough about race. Let's talk about life. Why will racist US police officers continue to kill young black males? Because the citizens of this country have access to guns, and this justifies the militarization of law enforcement. But what the UK shows so clearly is it's not racism that the main and first danger; it's actually just guns. The solution to this problem does not begin with the NAACP but the NRA.