You may have already suspected this. But a disturbing new study from the University of Illinois puts some numbers to it.
Looking at a comprehensive dataset from 42 studies done over the past decade in which people were asked to make split-second decisions on whether or not to shoot someone, the results confirm the on-the-ground reality we’ve seen with lethal force being used disproportionately against African Americans by police and armed citizens alike:
The meta-analysis showed that the participants were quicker to shoot when an armed person was black, slower to choose not to shoot when an unarmed person was black, and more trigger-happy toward black targets, in general.
The gun laws make a difference, too:
In states where gun laws are less strict, shooter bias against black targets increased—unarmed black targets were more likely to be shot. The bias only got worse in areas that were more racially diverse.
“What this highlights,” Mekawi told NPR, “is that even though a person might say, ‘I’m not racist’ or ‘I’m not prejudiced,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that race doesn’t influence their split-second decisions.”