Derek Thompson+ Your Authors @DKThomp Writer at @TheAtlantic. Host of podcast CRAZY/GENIUS. Author of book HIT MAKERS. Talker on NPR's @hereandnow and @CBSNews. derek[at]theatlantic[dot]com Jun. 19, 2020 1 min read + Your Authors

I wrote about an obvious contributor to police violence that’s received a shockingly small amount of attention in the police reform debate—guns. 

The U.S. spends 25% less than the EU on police—Greece has more officers per person than Newark, Baltimore, or Chicago—but our police shoot and kill at least 10X more civilians.

Are guns the only factor? No way.
Can you explain the gap without talking about guns? No way.

Research shows that in gun prevalent states:

- civilians kill more civilians
- civilians also kill more police
- police also kill more civilians

An entire ecosystem of human relations is poisoned by gun availability.

What's more, much of the history of police militarization and the rise of the warrior cop in the U.S. can be traced back to a series of mass shootings in the last 60 years which urged—or, one could argue, simply permitted—police units to demand more quasi-military equipment.

In the biggest picture, gun prevalence isn't just an acute threat. It's more like lead poisoning: an accumulating, environmental toxin that makes everyone—the kind, the horrible, the racist, the conscientious—sick with safety-anxiety and quick to solve it with a weapon.

American violence is not a natural deformation. It is a policy choice.

We have all chosen to walk, arm in arm, under the banner of the Constitution, into this hell together. To solve police violence, we have to talk about guns. 

You can follow @DKThomp.


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