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. The study found that police officers serving in states with high private gun ownership are more than three times more likely to be killed on the job than those on the job in states with the lowest gun ownership. 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, Dr. David Swedler, research assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.