According to the New York Times, over the past five years, police officers have killed more than 400 drivers or passengers who were not wielding a gun or a knife, or who weren’t under pursuit for a violent crime—a rate of more than one a week. I haven’t been able to find a comparable figure for other countries, but it is almost certainly much lower, partly because in those nations, the police are sometimes not armed. In London, for example, only about ten percent of the police force is now trained to carry arms.
We Americans are not able to reduce the number of police killings because we can’t curtail the number of firearms that our police carry. If we did, the police would be mammothly outgunned by lawbreakers. As I have reported here before, the firearm ownership rate in the United States is the highest in the world—120.5 guns per 100 people. We have more guns than people. Compare that figure with the number for Canada, 34.7, and the United Kingdom, 4.6.
To wit: until we decrease the number of guns held by the American population, we cannot reduce the number in the hands of police. Too many Americans would oppose a reduction in the number of guns we have because the U.S. is a gun culture. So we are stuck with police killings.
It’s time to change our culture.