Despite Killings of Officers, Police Groups Divided On Guns

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Police officers, on the front lines of gun violence, have particular reason to be on edge in the presence of civilians carrying guns, after 11 days in which eight officers were killed in two planned shootings. Yet law enforcement officials are not reflexively in favor of tougher gun laws, The Guardian reports. Although police chiefs and major city forces tend to favor more stringent gun laws, elected sheriffs and smaller departments are likely to lean the other way. “When you are around gun violence all the time and you see this stuff, I think it shapes the way you think about your personal safety when you’re off duty,” Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and the president of the Police Foundation. He said street-level officers are more likely to support gun rights than the police chiefs who oversee them.

Jennifer Carlton, a professor at the University of Arizona who studies police attitudes on issues such as gun control, said typically, elected sheriffs tend to favor less gun control than appointed police chiefs. The political divide on gun control between appointed police chiefs, particularly urban police chiefs, and elected sheriffs is a deep one. After the Newtown, Ct., mass shooting in 2012, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association pushed for tougher gun control laws, including an assault weapons ban, while the Major County Sheriffs Association opposed  ban, arguing that it would not address the real problem. Instead, the sheriffs pushed the White House to focus on mental health. Associations that represent police chiefs of large urban cities, as well as black law enforcement executives, Hispanic law enforcement executives, and female law enforcement executives, are part of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports gun control and weights in frequently on congressional legislation.

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