Study Claims Private Gun Ownership Endangers Police

AP/Craig Ruttle
AP/Craig Ruttle

A study released by the American Journal of Public Health, and published by The Huffington Post, claims high private gun ownership rates are tied to police officer deaths.

The study contrasts states based on gun ownership rates, listing “high gun ownership states [as] Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming” and low gun ownership locales as “Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Illinios, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.”

That’s a ratio of 23 to 8, which by itself makes an attack on a police officer nearly three times as likely in a high gun versus a low gun state not because of gun laws, but simply because of the significantly larger amount of area represented by states with high gun ownership.

Moreover, the study was conducted during the years 1996-2010, which means it missed the fact that New York’s gun control got even stricter beginning in 2013–discouraging gun ownership even further–yet many of the most prominent officer shootings in recent memory took place in NYC.

For example, NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down in an ambush attack on December 20, 2014, while sitting in their patrol car. And on May 2, 2015, NYPD Officer Brian Moore was fatally wounded with a stolen gun. He died on May 4.

But these attacks on officers were not part of the American Journal of Public Health study.

Also, while suggesting states with high gun ownership are more dangerous for cops, the Journal did not differentiate between those who killed officers with guns that were legally obtained versus those who shot officers with guns that were stolen or otherwise obtained. For example, when Officers Benjamin J. Deen and Liquori Tate were shot and killed in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on May 9, 2015, two of the suspected gunmen were felons–completely barred from gun possession. They faced 100 percent gun control. Nonetheless, they figured out a way to obtain guns.

Just as the gunman who shot NYPD Officer Moore with a stolen gun, the deaths of Deen and Tate do not show the dangers of armed law-abiding citizens, but the determination of criminals to obtain guns at any cost–laws be damned.

Ultimately, the focus of the American Journal of Public Health study is misplaced. Law-abiding citizens who are armed for self-defense pose no threat to police officers. And laws that prevent such citizens from being armed for self-defense simply create an atmosphere where only the criminals are armed–with guns that are stolen or otherwise obtained.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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