Survey: Fewer police officers fire their service weapons than Americans think

02/18/17 6:38 AM | by

Many Americans believe it’s rather common for police officers to fire their service weapons, but reality paints a different picture, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

About 30 percent of U.S. adults estimate officers fire their guns on duty a few times a year, and more than 80 percent estimate the average cop has used their weapon at least once in the field, according to a national survey from the Pew Research Center conducted last year.

In reality, only slightly more than a quarter — 27 percent — of officers say they’ve ever fired their guns on the job, according to another survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform.

The survey was conducted from May to August of last year. A representative sample of nearly 8,000 officers working in more than 50 police and sheriff’s departments with 100 or more officers were the subjects of the survey.

“Male officers, white officers, those working in larger cities and those who are military veterans are more likely than female officers, racial and ethnic minorities, those in smaller communities and non-veterans to have ever fired their service weapon while on duty,” says the report.

Breaking down the numbers, 30 percent of male officers said they’ve discharged their weapon on duty, aside from training or time at a gun range — compared to 11 percent of female officers. Along racial lines, 31 percent of white officers have fired their gun, compared to 21 percent of nonwhites. And those who’ve served in the military are more likely to use their gun in the line of duty — 32 percent of veterans have done so compared to 26 percent of non-veterans.

The authors of the report point out that just because the officers surveyed fired their weapons doesn’t mean they necessarily shot someone. They also note that factors associated with an officer having fired their weapon on duty doesn’t mean those factors caused the officers to do so.

Latest Reviews

  • LimCat RazorCat: Built for Open Class Competition

    Skulking about the Vault, I happened upon a unique gun chambered in a unique round – the LimCat RazorCat,...

    Read Now
  • Riton mod 7

    Riton Mod 7 Brings Long Range Features to Hunters

    At a slightly higher price, the RT-S Mod 7 looked like a promising addition to my hunting arsenal; but can...

    Read Now
  • Gun Review: Going 2200 Rounds with the New Glock G44 in 22LR

    Gun Review: Going 2,200 Rounds with the New Glock G44 in 22LR

    Pitched by Glock as a pistol designed for "new shooters, sport shooters and everyone in between," the G44 has a...

    Read Now
  • 2020 Hunting Shotguns

    New Hunting Shotguns Already on Our 2020 Wish List

    As always, there are plenty of hunting inspired guns to get pumped about, so with that in mind, here are...

    Read Now