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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Number of Times the British Police Fired Their Weapons in 2012: Three

Posted by on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 10:47 AM

The Economist:

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.


Comments (38) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Agree. Yes, some people are racist. More people are stupid. Even more people make stupid mistakes on occasion. Guns make stupid mistakes fatal. I do not fear "bad guys" with guns, I fear stupid people with guns, it's just a matter of statistics. Reduce the harm that stupid mistakes and stupid people can do by getting rid of guns.
Posted by rhombus on August 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
spamky 3
What did the cops use to kill the one guy who wasn't killed with a gun?
Posted by spamky on August 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
What's so exasperating about typical 2nd Amendment arguments is that they don't go "sure would be great if we could regulate guns but, alas, 2nd Amendment". Rather, the 2nd Amendment is invoked as an excuse to not defend on merit what is really just a stupid policy preference.
Posted by Alden on August 26, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
#5 said, Black american culture has been a dismal failure.

As of June, 2014, Beyonce and Jay-Z have a combined net worth of $1 billion.…

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 26, 2014 at 11:43 AM · Report this

Reduce the harm that stupid mistakes and stupid people can do by getting rid of guns.

Is it that simple?

I mean if I told you that people who have a chronic disease called Rafism are prone to losing their balance. Would you consider me prejudiced if I were to restrict Rafists from jobs like high rise construction?

Ok, now there is a disease called Racism. If I screened for it, would it not be fair for me to restrict employment to public service jobs that require quick evaluations? Would I not want to make it a part of gun training at the range to see if a person had a proclivity to fire a weapon just based on race?

Since the data show a tendency for this to happen, should we not be filtering racists out of authority jobs?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM · Report this
#6, #7 cont'd

Oh yeah.

, Bono.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 26, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 9
Such a jaw dropping stat, thanks for linking to that article. The headline might focus on last year's total of one, rather than 2012's three.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Gurldoggie 10
I completely agree with you, and it's dismaying that this kind of analysis has been lost in all of the coverage of Ferguson. It's clear that our ass-backwards gun laws are one important cause behind this recent string of tragedies. The abundance of guns in our street leads directly to the dangerous over-arming of law enforcement. The cops in Ferguson are an obvious example, but George Zimmerman is another - a Neighborhood Watch volunteer who felt he had to be armed to the teeth when he went out for evening "patrol." Racism is clearly a huge problem, but it's not confined to our borders. Combine it with guns, and the result is the awful situation we now find ourselves in.
Posted by Gurldoggie on August 26, 2014 at 11:51 AM · Report this
AFinch 11
Well put Charles. This argument, a thousand times over.

Heavily armed citizenry doesn't result in fewer victims, or a more fearful/cowed "government", nor does it protect anyone from state abuse (discrimination or racism). The last serious attempt at that - the Black Panthers - resulted in the police stripping the public of their guns.
Posted by AFinch on August 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM · Report this
So.. 5% of the England/Wales force are authorized to carry guns. I imagine they hardly ever do too.…

In the year that ended March 31, 2013, 6,091 English and Welsh police officers — about 5 percent of the total number — were authorized to carry firearms and did so in 10,996 operations.
Posted by ChefJoe on August 26, 2014 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Fnarf 13
@3, presumably a choke hold, like the one that killed Eric Garner recently in Staten Island for the outrageous crime of selling loose single cigarettes.
Posted by Fnarf on August 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 14
As has been shown over and over again, prevalent guns leads to jack booted government thugs, it does not prevent them.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on August 26, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
I also believe that Charles is completely wrong here. British racism is not like American racism. Black people in Britain do not have 400-year history of slavery like we do; English slavery mostly took place thousands of miles away from England. Most of the black people in Britain arrived from the West Indies after WWII (fewer than 20,000 of them in 1950). There is race prejudice but not nearly the same level of economic, residential, and school segregation and isolation that we have here. Britain is far more separated by class than race; any Brit can instantly tell not only what class you are, blindfolded, but what class you wish to be perceived as. Not so with race -- British black people (and Asian, i.e., Pakistani) speak with the same accents as whites, which is so often not the case in the USA.

The guns certainly don't help, but our iron-clad institutional racism and dysfunctional national myths are at the root of the problem. Black people in the US are excluded from the wider society even when they're not being shot dead in the street.
Posted by Fnarf on August 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM · Report this
@10 gurldoggie says it best, I think.
Posted by bareboards on August 26, 2014 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 17
@15, i only truly understand what it is to be a black American when im in the UK. there as a black african, the white heat on me is relentless. only my US passport can stop it. indeed, black americans are treated much more favorably than black africans.
Posted by Charles Mudede on August 26, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Report this
This argument won't get much traction because it implies there is a concrete action we could take. But that would require us to give up our guns, and it would require politicians to stand up to the NRA. Much easier to cluck our tongues about racism and carry on as usual, knowing there's nothing much we can do.
Posted by matt! on August 26, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
yes, if you want to see a bloodbath and mass killing of law enforcement you enact a nationwide recall on guns.
Posted by ChefJoe on August 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Gurldoggie 20
@15 -
Can't we agree that there is likely more than one cause to this horrendous problem? Even if we agree that racism in the U.S. is qualitatively different from racism in other countries (which I don't think is true BTW) shouldn't we recognize that there is also a gun issue?

@18 -
Amazing right? An issue where one clear solution - reducing the number of guns held by civilians AND cops - seems too obvious to be ignored. Yet here we are, and here we remain: represented by leaders too chickenshit to admit the obvious.
Posted by Gurldoggie on August 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
treacle 21
@14 - True. But England is becoming a dystopian nightmare on it's own as the most CCTV-monitored population on Earth, and one where the Gov't has control of all citizen information (eg. medical records), and routinely fucks it up. Plus, their taxpayer money goes to allow the soi-disant "Royal Family" to live in luxury, while producing little if any value. Not my, er, cup of tea.

Not that I'm in anyway pleased with the USA's nuthouse gun culture, because I'm not. Just pointing out that uniformed thugs can wear jackboots whether or not they carry guns.
Posted by treacle on August 26, 2014 at 1:15 PM · Report this
I'm not sure about the "enough about race" part, but here's my policy suggestion: police can only fire their weapon once in their career. After that, it's a desk job or traffic duty. There needs to be some consequence or some implication that your life must depend on it.
Posted by sense on August 26, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 23
tl;dr cops are racist; only cops should have guns
Posted by Sam Levine on August 26, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Bravo, Charles, Bravo!

It's funny how a fully-armed police force can be so fearful and cowardly. In mainstream popular culture, it's a long-standing tradition to picture the cop as a brave defender of his community. All too often, though, the reality leans towards cops being paranoid that everyone is out to get them and not caring about anything other than surviving their 20 years (or less) "on the job" to get their 75% (or greater) pension for the rest of their lives.

They reflexively cover each other's backs and suffer some truly awful people to serve with them rather than lose the protection of their mutual "brotherhood."
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on August 26, 2014 at 1:28 PM · Report this
lark 25
Good Afternoon Charles,
Your posting was informative. I knew the UK was indeed, far less violent than the USA ages ago. I spent some time there years ago. I recall the Bobbies being unarmed (with a pistol or handgun).

However, I again categorically disagree with your last sentence. The solution to this problem doesn't begin with the NRA. It begins with changing American Culture.

It is positively too short of a space here on SLOG to discuss why that needs to change (culture) & how to. I can say briefly that once Americans by & large find guns to be quite dangerous but carefully considered AND support background checks AND restrict automatic weapons then there might be a discussion. Especially with the NRA.
Posted by lark on August 26, 2014 at 1:29 PM · Report this
There's a saying...if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
The saying means that, when limited, you try to use your one solution to everything. Cops often only have the one 'solution'...the gun. So everything of suspicion looks like a dangerous action that must be solved with the gun.

Give them pepper spray and tazers and you have more solutions, non lethal solutions. Give them cameras to record all actions, obvious one's that perpetrators can also see. Knowing you're on tape changes your actions. That alone is incredibly cost prevented lawsuit pays for the cameras.
Posted by Bigwave425 on August 26, 2014 at 1:54 PM · Report this
All agreed, but I'm not sure a tiny island nation is the best comparison to the US. What about, say, Germany or Brazil?
Posted by Escapee from S. Idaho on August 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 30
@29, you do realize that the UK has a population of 50 million? a sixth of the US.
Posted by Charles Mudede on August 26, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 31
i'll say it again, sloggers: NET GUNS.…

Posted by Max Solomon on August 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
@30, you do realize that your "3" stats were only from England and Wales, right ?
Posted by ChefJoe on August 26, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Report this
Agreed with a lot of this but can you really separate our gun culture from our racist culture? Aren't the codependent on each other?
Posted by j2patter on August 26, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this
@34 Gun culture and racist culture are not codependent.

I'm a liberal and I'm not white and I'm a gun owner. I've lived through racism my entire life, and it took me decades to come to terms with the racists I dealt with as a child.
Posted by CPN on August 26, 2014 at 6:47 PM · Report this
@36, look at a lot of the language around the gun debate. It's not even just America. When the Harper govt shut down the long gun register in Canada the govt talking points where that long guns don't kill people in Canada, thugs in the city kill people (which complete ignore the state that show for a long time there was more shooting deaths in rural Canada and this are most often domestic disputes and are done with long guns).

This talking about need a gun to protect you from the govt is usually bs, dig deeper and you'll see most white people who support weak guns laws do it because they fear the young black man.
Posted by j2patter on August 26, 2014 at 8:16 PM · Report this
@34 That's a good point. Who is it exactly that the (mostly white) gun-o-philes feel the need to protect themselves from? Not other whites, for the most part.
Posted by matt! on August 26, 2014 at 9:05 PM · Report this
sissoucat 39
@17 Charles Mudede

I don't get your exact meaning. Do you mean that :
- in England, black Americans are treated much more favorably than black Africans,
or that
- in America, black Americans are treated much more favorably, than are black Africans in England ?

Could you clarify please ?

Your remark about police harassment in Europe is very interesting. In my European country, as, it appears from your experience, in England, there is far more harassment from the police against non-white people than against white people. Two reasons :

- police are quite officially tasked to be on the hunt for illegal immigrants, usually by moderate-right-wing governments (=something like democrats in the US) as we have now in most of Europe, and in Europe most illegal immigrants come from Africa (Maghreb, sub-saharian Africa) and the Middle East. So everyone not of the whitest shade has a much higher risk of being asked for their IDs,

- blatant racism. I've seen it firsthand : two drunk men fight, the white man started it, but it's the black man who'll go spend the night at the police station - and nothing you'll add as a witness, about the white man's racist slurs (an offense here) and unprovoked attack, will be written on the police report.

Why people of my country feel non-whites have a better time over here than in the US, is that it never degenerates into killings. Never as in, not one racism-motivated police killing a year, and we're also 60 millions.

That difference could very well be down to gun availability as you propose ; surely here there are idiots and racists a-plenty as well, though the criminalization of racist speech makes that a lot less obvious in the public space.
Posted by sissoucat on August 27, 2014 at 1:55 AM · Report this
Lapel cameras and net guns for all (@31, not sure if you're serious, but I'm for it!). Civilians and police. Everyone keeps der gunz but bullets cost thousands. While these ideas might be impractical/unenforceable/somewhat silly, "we've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas" has become a criminally negligent position.
Posted by Beastly on August 27, 2014 at 7:02 AM · Report this
"This talking about need a gun to protect you from the govt is usually bs, dig deeper and you'll see most white people who support weak guns laws do it because they fear the young black man."

Maybe you should get out and meet more people who own guns.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on August 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM · Report this
@ Charles Mudede, I get your point, but and added statistic to post is how many Police Officers in the UK were shot and killed by the public in 2012.
Posted by Rue9710 on August 27, 2014 at 10:39 AM · Report this
@39: Sissoucat!!!

Also, my reading was that his passport saves him from the heat, meaning that once the British know he's American, they treat him better, that Black Americans are treated better in Britain than Black Africans are.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on August 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
the UK also has high immigration and high employment
Posted by alfresco on September 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this

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