Most Americans believe that the typical officer fires their weapon “on the streets” at least once in their life. According to a Pew Research Center self-reporting study, only 27 percent of police officers report that they’ve discharged their firearm while on duty. What’s more interesting: the specific population of police officers who fire their guns the most often. They’re white male military veterans who support gun rights.

At first blush, one could conclude that white male veterans are more trigger-happy than their other co-workers. A closer look at the demographics of the law enforcement profession put that proposition into its proper perspective.

According to the FBI, women account for roughly 11.9 percent of uniformed police officers, Female officers are not likely to be placed in “beat cop” roles where officers are most likely to draw their weapon. In short, more male police officers discharge their weapon simply because there are more male police officers in “beat cop” roles. Whether that’s “right” or “sexist” is up for debate, but them’s the facts.

Police officers also tend to be less racially diverse than the population, as the New York Times points out. The larger percentage of white officers than non-white officers skews the results in that direction.

The smallest difference in the results was between veterans and non-veterans. Those with prior military experience were 50 percent more likely to fire their weapon in the line of duty than LEOs without a military background. The unspoken implication: police officers more likely to fire because of their military training.”

An equally plausible hypothesis: military veterans work in the higher risk areas of law enforcement. The scrawny nerd in the computer forensics lab and the former Army Ranger beefcake in the SWAT team are both police officers, but the vet is far more likely to see incoming rounds than the other.

A similar calculus might apply when considering the pro-gun rights leanings of those who reported discharging their firearm, compared with those who did not. Again, it’s likely that police who told Pew they’ve fired their weapon on duty are patrol officers — cops who see the reality of the world every day and the impact gun control laws have/don’t have on individuals.

Bottom line (as always): correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Until and unless Pew repeats this study using better methodology the idea that white male pro-gun military vets are somehow dangerous is dangerously misleading. For both the police and the communities they serve.

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54 Responses to Pew Research: White Male Pro-Gun Veteran Police Officers More Likely to Fire Weapon

  1. Male Pro-Gun Veteran Police Officers More Likely to Fire Weapon

    In other news, anti-gun police officers more likely to get shot, and just breaking, water is wet.

  2. Another likely factor- the military, alpha male dude might be more aggressive in doing his job. Another less aggressive cop might take the long way there, or making another “turn around the block” on the way to a call. Just by being more of a super-fuzz, one will see more action than another. Which is a good thing if you want to catch bad guys, of course.

    • So you weren’t in the military…or you’d know that it is not comprised of “alpha males”. Additionally, you’d be able to extrapolate the fact that many of the vets out there were in support roles and didn’t actually see any combat. However, most do have a sense of mission and duty and brotherhood and these factors would be much more in play than aggression or alpha superiority.

      Having said that, I would be willing to lay money down on the assumption that most veteran cops were around firearms much of their careers in either combat or training capacities. And I’d further bet that many have seen what happens when you hesitate and that forgiveness is for the living.

  3. Is this any surprise? Not the “results” of the “research”, but the anti-gun, anti-white, anti-police slant this so-called research took? Pew “Research” Center is a leftist shill. Always has been.

    • Had the Pew family had known what their charitable trust would develop into, they would probably have burned the money instead of creating a trust.

        • Yep ! Henry Ford Senior and John D Rockefeller for sure.
          Frankly, the Federal Government should dismantle every one of those “Family” foundations, regardless of size, and turn the assets over to the treasury department for tax reductions for ordinary Americans.

  4. So what? More cops are white…and some brown folks need shooting. Gobbledygoop twaddle. Harsh language doesn’t always work either.

  5. Soooooo, the mantra only applies to White Males, but doesn’t apply to Blacks when looking at the number of people of a particular race being incarcerated for committing crime?

    Got it……

  6. Pew research. I assume anti-gun/anti-freedom. I don’t feel like looking, seems like it’s a foregone conclusion anymore.

    Anyway, the information in this *NPR* story tends to indicate veteran police officers are more patient with discharging firearms. http://www.npr.org/2016/12/08/504718239/military-trained-police-may-be-slower-to-shoot-but-that-got-this-vet-fired

    And the guy who chose not to shoot was fired for not firing. Of course they blamed it on other factors, which is not likely. Where was the outcry on that story?

  7. “The unspoken implication: police officers more likely to fire because of their military training.”

    Or maybe the veteran police officers with military training are more prone to be placed or place themselves in occupational situations, i.e., finding and chasing bad guys, where they have to use their weapons. While I’m critical of the militarization of the police (a fault of initial employment selection, subsequent training, and resident police culture), these kinds of correlational studies are always specious to me. The problem is not white, veteran police officers with military backgrounds. The problem, as the study implies, isn’t experience at the pointed end of the stick. In American culture our warriors tend to be sheepdogs. And good sheepdogs tend to have a nose for trouble.

  8. Veteran police officers have been on the streets longer, have had more encounters and are therefore more likely to have had a need to fire their weapons. This isn’t rocket science.

    • I am not in law enforcement, but several friends and family are. Based on my conversations with them, I was surprised that 27% had fired. I would have guessed that it would be much lower than that, was expecting something on the order of a few percent.

      • Same here. 27% is a very big number when you consider how many police and deputies are out there. Heck, 27% of the NYPD is over 9,000 officers.

        • That number does seem abnormally high. In my county, the number runs historically around 9-12% based upon my very scientific sampling.
          I wouldn’t put it past Pew to skew the results somehow.

  9. “The unspoken implication: police officers more likely to fire because of their military training.”

    Or maybe the veteran police officers with military training are more prone to be placed or place themselves in occupational situations, i.e., finding and chasing bad guys, where they have to use their weapons. While I’m critical of the militarization of the police (a fault of initial employment selection, subsequent training, and resident police culture), these kinds of correlational studies are always specious to me. The problem is not white, veteran police officers with military backgrounds. The problem, as the study implies, isn’t experience at the pointed end of the stick. In American culture our warriors tend to be sheepdogs. And good sheepdogs tend to have a nose for trouble.

  10. Self-selected\reporting study… barely worth reading in terms of evidence.

    “…Female officers are not likely to be placed in “beat cop” roles where officers are most likely to draw their weapon.”

    Citation definitely needed. Everyone becoming a cop starts in patrol (beat cop).

    • Yeah they start in patrol positions but they are rarely alone, rarely patrol in high risk areas and almost uniformly end up in desk positions as soon as is possible by their departments standards.

      • That has not been my experience. Maybe that’s because where I am there aren’t many desk spots available for sworn personnel (as opposed to ‘civilian’ employees like crime techs) so anyone looking to get off patrol is unlikely to be getting off the streets much.

        I do know that big cities- Chicago, etc- do tend to have more ‘house mouse’ type positions available but I don’t know that it’s the norm if you look at departments across the country.

    • I agree that a citation is needed on that little piece of conjecture.

      The term “beat cop” used to refer to police offers assigned to a certain area for a long period, which allowed them to build relationships and trust with the people there. It allowed for better police work.

      It was valuable, but police unions considered it unfair treatment. They were concerned that officers might be assigned to particularly dangerous areas as punishment or retribution for perceived misdeeds. So the trend for many years has been to rotate assignments frequently.

      Now some departments are trying to go back to the “beat cop” approach again, but it has a new name. It’s called “community policing” and the unions are screaming like unions do.

    • It’s almost as if a quasi-attractive female in a male-dominated profession has her choice of positions. The “citation needed” schtick is nice, but it tends to have difficulty nailing down politically incorrect information. There’s almost as much favoritism for women in police as there is in porn.

    • “Everyone becoming a cop starts in patrol (beat cop).”

      Actually there are some exceptions to that–or were, back in my days.

      Right after the Southeast Asia War Games ended, I left the Army and joined a large department in the Atlanta suburbs. From Day One I was assigned to the Felony Fugitive / Warrant Squad, a plain clothes assignment. I did 5 years before deciding to go back in the Army.

      Those were different times. I cringe at saying I was in 9 shooting incidents, but back then felons were more apt to shoot and backup usually took too long (manpower shortages). Fortunately for me, I was only wounded once and it was a grazing wound across the abdomen.

      Let me just add, I admire, respect and salute those who serve as peace officers in today’s climate. I have family members, in plain clothes and uniform, who serve today and my hat’s off to them.

  11. Military veterans have also been instilled with a sense of discipline and attention to duty. I’m glad that some of you picked up on the fact that these officers are much more likely to become involved in hazardous situations because of the “sheepdog” mentality. As Hannibal correctly pointed out, all cops, men and women, begin their police careers in patrol. In my experience, however, women tend not to remain in patrol or uniform roles for their entire careers as many male officers do.

  12. “More likely to shoot”. Did all of those shots equal a gun shot wound? Last I looked, NYPD was at, what, 17% hit ratio? Did all of those shots fired equal someone dying?

    If I fire 1000 rds into a berm, and I hit a rabbit in that berm with one of those rounds, am I more likely to be a rabbit killer? “White males kill more animals than Black males” COULD be a Pew headline. Too many factors dummies, too many factors.

  13. Stepping back from the numbers is important. EVERY shooting has to be judged as an separate event. The socio-economic profile of one shooter cannot be compared to the next shooter. Each shooter faced starkly different situations with different context. Two shooters with the exact same characteristics means nothing when one is conducting a raid on a drug lab and the other is writing a speeding ticket to your grandmother. Was the drug lab a raid on the wrong address and did your grandmother pull a gun on the officer?

    Nothing in the demographics of shooters matters. What matters is the justification for the use of force.

    • Those who consistently insist on breaking down any and all data, on any subject, by race, are racists. Work on it. The race should not matter.

  14. I’m confused about why Pew is even researching this. Hasn’t it already been proven beyond all reasonable doubt that White Males are responsible for everything wrong in this country? I’m pretty sure I’ve been lectured multiple times about how I was born regardless of how I act.

    Plus I chose to be conservative. Imagine someone so racist they think minority communities can thrive on their own without government handouts. Thank god I never chose to be a cop, that would have been the last straw in society’s eyes!

  15. So how many of those were bad shoots?
    If the answer is none, then the headline is “white male veteran cops more likely to do their job.”

  16. Lhstr, I guess I better make sure all my equipment is at the ready. I don’t want to be left out of stats. Then I can be a eager beaver and be counted, hmmm. Phony BS.

  17. Another reason to make the “beat cop” role only open to women who stand 5’5″ or less and preferably a minority. There I solved the problem 😀

  18. Correlation =/= causation. Perhaps those gun-loving cops who discharged their weapons on duty were flaming liberal anti-gunners BEFORE they fired their guns, and had a come-to-Jesus moment as a result of the altercation? Perhaps the necessity to shoot someone, or the day-to-day observation of the results of criminal activity, has moved at least some statistically-significant percentage of former anti-gunners or fence-sitters into the pro-gun column? Or not – but the stats don’t articulate any of that information.

  19. “Pew” Research stinks.

    I’ve known officers in LA who went entire careers without a shot fired in the line of duty, and I’ve known officers who found themselves using their weapon on numerous occasions. Color didn’t really matter. What mattered was who was assigned to which sector. LA, like most metro areas, has good neighborhoods where it’s normally quiet, and others where you should drive and armored car every day. I live in a city of about 100,000 and we have both kinds of areas. I live in a quiet one and a block away is one of the other kind. It’s odd, but the things in that area do not bleed over into my area.

    Many officers choose the rougher areas because they are never boring, because they actually do police work, and even for the adrenalin high of increased risks. They are the ones who are most likely to stay I shape and have higher arrest rates. Officers who want the quiet neighborhoods are the ones most apt to let their physical conditioning slip, are involved in fewer confrontations, etc. The former group often have more complaints against them, and the latter group often have none.

    It’s not that one group is better than another, it’s the situations they find themselves in due to the assigned areas they work.

    Yes there are some bad apples, but departments do go far to weed them out.

  20. I would like them to have included data about the respondents job assignments, number of arrests, those with commendations, etc.

    They are trying to tell a story. Too many clarifying details get in the way of story telling.

  21. Doesn’t mean much, when divorced from such things as the circumstances of the shootings and the outcomes thereof. They probably want people to interpret it as “gun guy cops resort to gunfire when other cops would have resolved the situation just as effectively by other means”, but it could just as easily mean “anti-gun cops are dangerously prone to hesitate in life-or-death situations, endangering themselves, their fellow officers, and the public”.

  22. Once you read the internals and see that the statistical sample was self-selected, you can stop right at that point and disregard everything else that is written in or about this study.

    To give you an idea why, consider the self-selecting study of women at two midwestern colleges on the subject of sexual harassment that became the basis for the feminists’ claims that “one in five women are raped while at college” nonsense. That’s the outcome of another self-selecting “study.”

    Statistical studies stand or fall on their sample size, sampling methods and sampling criteria. Self-selection of subjects in a multi-variable study is invariably a path to failure.

    You can read about their methodology here:

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/behind-the-badge-methodology/

  23. Pew artfully crafted their study to achieve a predetermined goal to support an anti white male, anti law enforcement, and anti gun narrative and propaganda for the radical left.

    White males with prior military service could be plugged into a study on any profession to arrive at any behavior or pattern those conducting the study want to prove or disprove, and since white males with prior military service account for an overwhelming majority of the population drawn to or willing to serve in any public safety profession , the white male demographic will be in the high percentile of any behavior or outcome targeted,

    Since longevity is the only way possible for those white male ex-GI cops to become veteran police officers, longevity necessarily increases the risk of exposure to many of the dangers associated with the duties of a police officer.

    Pew could employ the same ridiculous premise to publish studies which determine white male veteran police officers with prior military experience are more likely to become involved in a high speed vehicle pursuit; or white male veteran firefighters with prior military experience are more likely to enter a burning building.

  24. “The scrawny nerd in the computer forensics lab and the former Army Ranger beefcake in the SWAT team are both police officers”

    This is a common misconception. Special ops (ok yeah rangers are not technically SO) and SWAT guys are often some of the scrawniest, wiry guys out there. They just keep going for days and can shoot well. For most of what special ops does extra mass is a liability. There are a few young, regular infantry marines who are pretty buff (frequent “gear” use though not always). However, the most muscular guys are usually in non-tactical jobs, often times Air Force, and are frequently older like 30’s and 40’s. Recovery for muscle growth requires a certain amount of “cushiness” and weeks of field and survival training hurts not helps.

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