German police officers fired a total of 85 bullets in 2011, 49 of which were warning shots, the German publication Der Spiegel reported. Officers fired 36 times at people, killing six and injuring 15. This is a slight decline from 2010, when seven people were killed and 17 injured. Ninety-six shots were fired in 2010.
Meanwhile, in the United States, The Atlantic reported that in April, 84 shots were fired at one murder suspect in Harlem, and another 90 at an unarmed man in Los Angeles.
I love these kinds of stories because they’re so simple in what they’re trying to imply, yet how quickly they fall apart as a narrative. The clear objective of them is to show how wonderfully marvelous Europe, European government control, and enlightened Europe is, and how backwards and gun-oriented we are in the US.
People are free to make bad decisions in the US. And once deadly force is used it’s deadly force, whether it’s one round fired or one hundred.
“Our police officers are no thugs in uniform,” Lorenz Caffier, interior minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said at a press conference Tuesday.
“It is gratifying that the use of firearms by police officers against people is declining,” Caffier added.
It’s gratifying only if there is a lack of crime that necessitates fewer violent encounters. Otherwise the police could be running away or ignoring crime, especially in Gastarbeiter neighborhoods.
There’s a joke about the difference between heaven and hell. They’re the same, except different nationalities have different professions. In heaven, the English are the cops, the Germans are the engineers, the Italians are the cooks, the French are the lovers, and the Swiss run everything. In hell, the Germans are the cops, the English are the cooks, the Italians are the engineers, the Swiss are the lovers, and the French run everything.
Thing is, there’s little comparison in those statistics. The German police deal with a mostly homogenous, aging society that for the most part doesn’t have that much crime. There’s also the argument that they lost a lot of alpha males and their genes in WWI and then WWII, so they don’t even have the risk-taking types who end up skirting the line and becoming criminals anyway. The US has a naturally more volatile society, but we have a more free society. We have multiple ethnic groups (and as posted recently, we even have illegal criminal invaders), we have a vast, free country that leaves people to their own ends to a greater degree than Germany.
Ultimately, a few criminals and the regrettable, tragic losses of life that come from conflicts with the law that aren’t resolved well are a small price to pay. See, there’s a reason the “Germans are the cops” line applies to hell.
F.A. Hayek dedicated entire chapters in The Road To Serfdom explaining why the worst get on top in a socialist system (slightly less so in other systems) – because ultimately, such a system is totalitarian, and desires control. A system which makes for a pacified society ultimately leads to the violence at the hands of government authorities and police as per in Germany’s not-too-distant past. Otto von Bismarck’s socialist state that began offering government benefits set the stage for a government with more and more and more control.
Ultimately, many of the instruments of government control were already in place by the time things got far worse.
American law enforcement, where some 150+ officers were killed in 2011, and a greater number of criminals were killed, even when spread out over 300 million people, looks like a large number. Assuming that American cops kill ten times the number of officers killed, we could guess there are some 1500 people killed by law enforcement each year (a few internet searches couldn’t pull up a real number, so I’m just making that up based on a 10:1 ratio).
Just because I’m making numbers up, let’s assume it’s more like 5,000 per year. Totally made up number. It will still take 1200 years of 5,000 per year to equal Germany just from their famous years, and that’s with Germany’s lowest estimate. More than likely it’d take some 2400 years, and that’s not including East Germany’s actions for 40 years, the actions of the Kaiser or Bismarck before a decidedly anti-freedom Austrian made Germany’s police famous.