The Corner

Gun Control and the Police

The LA Times is reporting that “police groups” are calling for gun control:

Despite the tough political climate for federal gun control legislation, a coalition of law enforcement groups on Thursday called for background checks on all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines after the Colorado shooting rampage.

“After looking at what happened in Aurora, Colo., who could be in favor of these high-capacity magazines?” asked Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation and chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence.

It’s worth noting that “police groups” do not represent the opinions of the officers who work the street. Big-city mayors tend to support gun control, and they appoint police officials who are willing to endorse that view. These officials, in turn, are the ones who move on to positions in “police groups.”

Here, for example, is some background on Hubert Williams. He served as a police director in Newark and an adviser to Los Angeles before moving into policy work. He has certainly earned the right to have his voice heard in the national gun debate, but he does not speak for the police in general. Also quoted in the article is the police chief for Baltimore County.

I’m not aware of any surveys of police that deal with the particular issues here (background checks and high-capacity magazines). But here is an excellent summary of police officers’ views on concealed carry, and how officers of different ranks tend to have different views:

There is an inverse relationship between the rank of the officer and the degree to which law enforcement officials support rights of law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons for self-protection. The line officers, who spend the most time on the street and should be most threatened by the potential risk of additional permit holders, often express the greatest support for concealed carry laws. In contrast, the highest-ranking, often politically appointed officers, whose lives are least threatened, are the most vocal opponents of the law. Survey results showed that 76 percent of street officers and 59 percent of managerial officers agreed that all trained, responsible adults should be able to obtain handgun carry permits.

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