A consistent feature of our nation’s long debate over whether and how to combat the ongoing problem of people who shouldn’t be getting shot getting shot has been the argument that our society would be safer if more of us were carrying firearms. While another faction has responded to the growing number of mass shootings in America by working to strengthen laws restricting access to guns, there has been a countermovement toward more permissive concealed-carry and open-carry laws, based on the principles that a) we are all granted the right to bear arms in self-defense in the Constitution and b) more theoretically, that more armed citizens means would-be shooters will think twice before drawing down, as their target very well may be equipped to shoot back. Also, c) what are you, a pussy?
Last week’s matched pair of police shootings, in Louisiana and Minnesota, have once again drawn attention to the apparent tendency of some officers to shoot black people for negligible offenses. It would be very hard to argue that there isn’t at least some racism at the root of these killings, and I don’t intend to. But as a thought experiment, removing race from the equation does help to put the lie to the notion that a more widely armed citizenry would be a safer one.