A survey of more than 15,000 police officers found that that the majority of cops oppose stricter gun control laws. PoliceOne.com, a website that supports law enforcement officers, recently released a report that found that “police overwhelmingly favor an armed citizenry, would like to see more guns in the hands of responsible people, and are skeptical of any greater restrictions placed on gun purchase, ownership, or accessibility.”
This flies in the face of popular perceptions about police attitudes towards guns. People generally believe that police favor stricter gun control laws in order to make the streets safer. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to support this belief. Police groups regularly lobby for stricter gun control laws and they spearhead gun buyback campaigns. If this study is to be believed, why are police organizations lobbying for gun control when individual cops report that they don’t want stricter gun control laws?
To confuse matters, there wasn’t much of a disagreement among police officers. The polled cops almost unanimously supported fewer gun control restrictions. A staggering 95.7 percent said “No” to the question, “Do you think a federal ban on manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds would reduce violent crime?”
Similarly, 71 percent said that banning assault rifles would not reduce violent crimes and 60 percent said that the White House’s current proposed legislation would not have any impacts on officer safety.
Based on the data from this questionnaire, police seems to want armed citizens more than anything else. When asked what would be most effective at preventing large scale shootings, police gave “More permissive concealed carry policies for civilians” the most votes at 28 percent. Eighty percent of officers felt that casualties would have been reduced in Sandy Hook if citizens were armed, and 76 percent want to see more trained, armed teachers in school.
This poll presents the public with confusing data. On the one hand, a huge percentage of police officers vote in favor of looser gun control policies. On the other hand, there’s story after story of law enforcement agencies favoring stricter gun control laws. PoliceOne editor Chief Doug Wyllie suggests that he knows who’s to blame; he wrote that the study is “contrary to what the mainstream media and certain politicians would have us believe.” In any event, the poll demonstrates that police opinions about gun control aren’t as cut and dry as either side claims. With so many police believing in gun rights but acting as though they want guns off the streets, where does the truth lie?