In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Colorado, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on police to join him in fighting for more gun control: “I don’t understand why the police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say we’re going to go on strike.” It is illegal for police to go on strike, and Mr. Bloomberg later backed off his statement. But the mayor is just as far off the mark in his assumption that police agree with him on gun control.
Take the annual survey by the National Association of Chiefs of Police of more than 20,000 chiefs of police and sheriffs. In 2010 it found that 95% believed “any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport or self-defense.” Seventy-seven percent believed that concealed-handgun permits issued in one state should be honored by other states “in the way that drivers’ licenses are recognized through the country”—and that making citizens’ permits portable would “facilitate the violent crime-fighting potential of the professional law enforcement community.”
National surveys of street officers are rare, but they show officers to be overwhelmingly in favor of law-abiding civilians owning and carrying guns. A 2007 national survey of sworn police officers by Police Magazine found that 88% disagreed that “tighter restrictions on handgun ownership would increase or enhance public safety.” In the same survey, 67% opposed tighter gun control because the “law would only be obeyed by law-abiding citizens.”
Regional or local surveys show similar patterns. For example, a 1997 survey conducted by the San Diego Police Officers Association found that 82% of its officers opposed an “assault weapons” ban, 82% opposed a limitation on magazine capacity, and 85% supported letting law-abiding private citizens carry concealed handguns.
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