Justifiable homicides committed by cops and civilians are at their highest levels in more than 10 years, USA Today reports. Last year's totals: 391 for police and 254 for civilians. Analysts attribute the rise to a growing “shoot-first” attitude among both groups, especially as criminals improve their arsenals.
While cops have been steadily improving their weapons, "clearly there is a message out there that citizens (also) may be able to defend themselves," said one criminal justice professor. Another criminologist suspects successes in the "gun legalization" movement have spurred the uptick in civilian shootings. An NRA official disputed that and asserted that civilians are “simply refusing to be victims” after 9/11 and the lawlessness following events such as Hurricane Katrina.