Loopholes in federal and state law make it easy for dangerous people to get guns. But Everytown’s research shows that common-sense public safety laws can help reduce gun violence against law enforcement and save lives. Simply put, background check laws make cops safer: Law enforcement officers are 48 percent less likely to be killed with handguns in states that require background checks for unlicensed, “private” handgun sales than in states that do not.
Everytown compared the number of law enforcement officers killed with handguns that were not their own over a twelve year period (2000-11) in states that did or did not require background checks for unlicensed, “private” handgun sales.
Data on deaths were obtained from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed in Action database. The database includes detailed information on every duly sworn officer – including city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal officers – killed in the line of duty going back to 1980. To qualify, officers must have been working in an official capacity (on or off duty), had full arrest powers, ordinarily worn or carried a badge and a firearm, and been paid from governmental funds specifically appropriated for law enforcement officers.See http://1.usa.gov/1BpHxSL (last accessed November 13, 2014) for a detailed explanation of the criteria required.
Data on the population of law enforcement officers were obtained from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.FBI, Crime in the United States, Table 77, available at: http://1.usa.gov/1CmPZhV The population of law enforcement officers in the District of Columbia was not available, so the District was excluded from the analysis.
During the study period, 13 states required all gun buyers to undergo a background check before buying a handgun in an unlicensed sale, and 36 states did not. Missouri repealed its background check requirement in 2007, and was excluded from this analysis. Between 2000-11, the FBI reported that 676 law enforcement officers were killed in action in these states, of whom 551 (82 percent) were killed with firearms, and 347 were killed with handguns that were not the officers’ own. Adjusting for population, there were 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns that were not their own in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in states that do not.