Saturday, July 04, 2020

How to Eliminate Police Shootings

How to Eliminate Police Shootings

Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), July 4, 2020, p. A6

In 2010, I suggested a way to eliminate the cost of college. In 2013, it was "How to Totally Eliminate Flood Damage." Earlier this year, it was "How to Eliminate COVID-19."

Today, it's "How to Eliminate Police Shootings."

Iceland is the world’s 15th most armed country per capita. Yet a police shooting in 2013 was that nation’s first.

There were 461 "justifiable homicides" by U.S. police in 2013, but not one in the United Kingdom.

Data from Ireland, New Zealand and 12 Pacific island nations is similar.

How can this be? What are they doing?

Their formula isn't complicated. It turns out that it is virtually impossible for a police officer without a gun to shoot people. (In rare situations, an officer may check out a gun for a given assignment, after which it’s returned.)

Just as a gun in the home is many times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder, arming police apparently creates more gun violence than it prevents.

Doesn't this impose greater risk on those officers? Apparently not. A 2004 survey revealed 82% of British police did not want to be armed, even though one-third had sometimes feared for their lives. Less than one-fourth of Irish police are even qualified to use a gun.

Maybe begin with a community policing trial. Maybe we’d first need to remove the causes of crime, poverty and systemic racism from the U.S. But, shucks, we ought to be doing that anyway.

— Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City

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