Once again, TTAG’s taken some heat for featuring more than a few police officers in our Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day feature. Some commentators feel that law enforcement officers are over-represented, indicating an anti-cop bias. I’ve already admitted that I view police officers with suspicion. Not only do most top cops actively support gun control, but LEOs at the sharp end are often careless with firearms and, worse, unaccountable for their safety violations. Not to mention lethal SWAT-mania (as above) and unnecessary dog shootings. Despite all that, is TTAG unfairly portraying police firearms malfeasance? Nope. And John Lott has the stats to prove it . . .
One extremely easy fact to get information on is how law-abiding permit holders are. Much of the existing public discussion on crimes committed by permit holders in the media involves a report by the Violence Policy Center. Unfortunately, that report contains many inaccuracies as it often double or triple counts cases that shouldn’t even be counted as crimes or problems with guns to begin with.
Consider the two large states at the front of the current debate, Florida and Texas: Both states provide easy web access to detailed records of permit holders.During over two decades, from October 1, 1987 to May 31, 2014, Florida has issued permits to more than 2.64 million people, with the average person holding a permit for more than a decade.
Few — 168 (about 0.006%) — have had their permits revoked for any type of firearms related violation, the most common being accidentally carrying a concealed handgun into a gun-free zone such as a school or an airport, not threats or acts of violence. It is an annual rate of 0.0002 percent.
The already low revocation rate has been declining over time. Over the last 77 months from January 2008 through May 2014, just 4 permits have been revoked for firearms-related violations. With an average of about 875,000 active permit holders per year during those years, the annual revocation rate for firearms related violations is 0.00007 percent – 7 one hundred thousandths of one percentage point.
For all revocations, the annual rate in Florida is 0.012 percent.
The numbers are similarly low in Texas. In 2012, the latest year that crime data are available, there were 584,850 active license holders.
Out of these, 120 were convicted of either a misdemeanor or a felony, a rate of 0.021 percent, with only
a few of these crimes involving a gun.
The Florida numbers can easily be compared to data on firearms violations by police officers during the three years from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007.
During that time period, the annual rate of such violations by police was at least 0.007 percent. That is higher than the rate for permit holders in Florida. The police data on total annual offenses also provide a direct comparison for Florida and Texas. The rate of all crimes committed by police is 0.124 percent – a number about 6 times higher than the rate for in Texas and about 10 times higher than for Florida.
So police are six times more likely to commit a firearms offense than a licensed non-LEO in Texas and 10 times more likely in Florida. And that’s not taking into account the so-called thin blue line (police cover ups). So, statistically speaking, TTAG is not picking on cops.
Do we have a moral obligation to support the boys in blue? I don’t think so. I think we have a moral obligation to hold them to the same standards as we hold ourselves, only higher. They are, after all, public servants.