“Officers are three times more likely to be murdered on the job in high gun ownership states in comparison with low gun ownership states. That was the big wow for me.”
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi and Montana were the states with the highest rates of both gun ownership and for law enforcement killings. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island had the lowest per-capita rate for both.
It’s important to calculate the rates by per capita, said Swedler, because large states have more killings and more guns simply because they have more people.
Swedler said his team also made sure that police killings were not related to violent crime in general.
“Hypothetically, officers might be put at increased risk if they are more frequently encountering violent criminals, but our data doesn’t find that to be the case,” he said. “We find that officers are at an increased risk for being killed the more frequently they encounter guns in public settings.”