The police in and around Ferguson have shot and killed twice as many people in the past two weeks (Mr Brown plus one other) as the police in Japan, a nation of 127m, have shot and killed in the past six years. Nationwide, America’s police kill roughly one person a day (see chart).Now, now, an armed society is a polite society—by all rights, all those guns should be making American law enforcement less likely to shoot people, because the American population practically polices itself, right? If anything, it's the absence of guns that causes law enforcement to shoot people. In Nevada, a group of heavily armed militia members openly "took up sniper positions" against federal agents from bridges and hillsides, and the great wide swath of America decided that the law the officers were there to enforce, blocking the annexation of public-owned land by a freedom-loving rancher who considered himself the owner of whatever his cattle had crapped on that week, was too much bother. It's the jaywalkers who get shot, not the ragged-mustachioed wild-eyed trigger-happy freedom fighters who spend their nights wondering if tomorrow will bring the long-awaited revolution.
This is not because they are trigger-happy but because they are nervous. The citizens they encounter have perhaps 300m guns between them, so a cop never knows whether the hand in a suspect’s pocket is gripping a Glock.
Where was I? Oh, right. First world countries seem to have an uncanny ability to not shoot people that we here in America just don't have. We don't have it because we'd rather have lots of guns and shoot lots of people than have slightly fewer guns and shoot slightly fewer people, and even suggesting that we shoot slightly fewer people is often enough to cause some of your fellow Americans to threaten to shoot you.