An American is at least three times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than a Briton is by a criminal.
The ongoing violence in St Louis suburb of Ferguson seems to have produced much debate in the US. The clashes were ignited by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man which – along with the aggressive police tactics that followed – has left America about the militarisation of the police.
Here’s John Oliver on particularly biting form lamenting the extraordinary amount of military hardware which has found its way into the hands of police who are generally poorly trained to handle it. For example, he makes much of a small New Hampshire town given an armoured personnel carrier to protect its annual pumpkin festival from terrorist attack:
By way of contrast, it has been noted that the police in England and Wales have not killed anyone with firearms in the past two years.
What I have yet to see mentioned though is how the rate at which Americans are shot and killed by the police contrasts with the general firearm homicide rate in the UK.
It is difficult to say how many Americans are killed in police involved shootings because (astonishingly) nobody collects that data. However, the patchy recording of such incidents by the FBI indicates that there were an absolute minimum of 400 of them. There are by one estimate 319 million people living in America. So that translates into a minimum of 0.13 police shooting per 100,000 Americans.
So astoundingly Americans are three times more likely to be killed by a police officer with a gun than someone in Britain is by a criminal with one.