For all the talk in Gun-control Nation about whether we should let legally qualified individuals walk around with guns (read: CCW), the shooting of a young Black man in a town adjacent to where the George Floyd trial is taking place, reminds us that we grant CCW status to more than 800,000 men and women every day.

              I’m talking about sworn officers who work for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, all of whom go around on and off duty carrying guns. And while we’d like to believe that these men and women are armed because they constitute the ‘first line of defense’ against crime, sometimes this ‘defense’ becomes an ‘offense’ when an officer thinks she is using her Taser when she actually pulls out her Glock.

              The cops will tell you that they need to carry guns because the people they go up against are also armed. They will further tell you that because the bad guys are all carrying guns that being a cop means that you’re always facing the risk of getting shot.  Like the NRA says, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

              Let me make it clear that I am very, very pro-cop. I have sold hundreds of guns to cops in my gun shop, I conduct lethal force exercises for local, state, and federal cops, what cops do is very important and very difficult to do. That being said, talking about how, when and where cops use armed force is a discussion that needs to be based first of all on some facts. And here come the facts.

              From 2010 through 2019, a total of 1,627 cops died in the line of duty, an average of 163 fatalities each year. This decade-by-decade number has been steadily declining since the 1920’s, when the average number of cops who died in that decade was 252 per year. In other words, while being a cop certainly isn’t as safe as being, say, a school-bus driver, the job has gotten much safer over the years.

              It should be added that of those 162 officers who die each year while working the job, roughly one-third of them get killed because they get into a confrontation with an armed individual which they lose.

              If it hadn’t been for the Pandemic, 2020 would have been the safest year of all. The overall fatality number jumped to 264, but 145 deaths were caused by complications from Covid-19. Take away the on-the-job deaths from the virus, and the number of fatalities while wearing the blue uniform drops to  119 – the lowest yearly count of all time.

              What isn’t mentioned in these reports, however, is a very serious medical risk from policing, suicide risk. In 2019, at least 228 active or former cops pulled the plug on themselves, a number which isn’t included in the data above. Unfortunately, suicide continues to carry the same stigma with cops as it carries with everyone else. Now let’s get back to the issue of cops, criminals, and guns.

              The Washington Post has been keeping tabs on how many people get shot by cops and since 2015 the number appears to be roughly 1,000 every year.  Our friend Frank Zimring has written a definitive book on this issue and he finds the WaPo data to be reliable as well. So, between cops who get shot and individuals who are shot by cops, we wind up with somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 deaths every year.

              The Minnesota town where the shooting occurred on Monday isn’t a particularly nice and quiet place. The assault rate is twice the national average, rapes are three times the national rate. So, the cops in Brooklyn Center probably feel they need to walk or drive around with a gun.

              Did the officer who mistakenly thought her Glock was a taser reduce the risk to herself or to that kid because she was carrying a gun? Would she have reacted differently if she weren’t carrying a gun?