High Gun Ownership in State? Don't Be a Cop

This shouldn't surprise anyone but police are more likely to be killed on duty in states that have high gun ownership.

In fact, in states with high private gun ownership, they're more than three times more likely to be killed on the job than those in states with the lowest gun ownership.

newswise.com points out that Camden and Newark, New Jersey, are perceived as two of the most violent cities in the nation, yet New Jersey’s police officers are among the least likely to get shot on the job. Montana, with its serene landscapes and national parks, has among the highest homicide rates for law enforcement officers. Why?

Simple.  There are many more guns in Montana.

Across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, homicides of police officers are linked to the statewide level of gun ownership, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Previous studies have linked firearm ownership with higher overall firearm death rates in the United States and internationally. Until now, none of the studies have examined the increased risk to law enforcement personnel.

“If we’re interested in protecting police officers, we need to look at what’s killing them, and what’s killing them is guns,” says the study's lead author, David Swedler, research assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. “We know that 92 percent of police officers killed in the line of duty are killed by guns, three-quarters of which are handguns."

On average, the researchers found that 38 percent of U.S. households have at least one gun, ranging from 4.8 percent of households in the District of Columbia to 62 percent in Wyoming.

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi and Montana were in the top quintile both for gun ownership and for law enforcement homicides, while Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island were in the lowest quintile for gun ownership and police officer homicides.

“We found that officers aren’t being killed in states with high violent-crime rates. While violent crime rates didn't track closely to officer homicide rates, it was public gun ownership that had the strongest relationship,” Swedler says.

But hey, everyone should have a gun, right?!


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