When our British eyes, or European eyes, look at the behaviour of police in some parts of the United States of America, we are puzzled by the relish with which some police there pull out their guns and start shooting. There are many killings by police of civilians and many of those killings are of unarmed people who may be behaving by any standards inappropriately, but not in a way that should lead to their deaths.
In Wisconsin this year a young man, Tony Robinson, what shot and killed in Madison by a policeman. Mr Robinson was darting in and out of traffic, causing drivers some consternation. The officer wanted to prevent this behaviour and had he waiting for a minute other officers on the way to the scene could have helped the policeman resolve the position by taking Mr Robinson into custody and have him dealt with by the courts, who dispense justice.
Instead of waiting the policeman pulled out his gun and shot the unarmed Mr Robinson dead. This kind of incident seems to happen regularly in many parts of the United States. It is as though the police regard themselves as dispensers of justice. They are not. They exist, in the classic phrase, to serve and protect their communities, not to rule them. Justice is dispensed by judges and juries, not by the police.
If you give a man a gun you empower that man and many men responded to that empowerment badly; they become bullies and fail to understand that they are only given the gun to protect themselves and their communities. It takes courage and discipline not to use the gun when other means are available. Often the use of a gun in certain circumstances is a form of extreme cowardice.
These kinds of killings will continue until the majority of people in the United Sates have a more logical and less emotional attachment to firearms. It is very easy (physically at least) to kill an unarmed man by shooting him. It requires courage and discipline to refrain from shooting an unarmed person who is misbehaving.