Many Americans believe it is common for police officers to fire their guns. About three-in-ten adults estimate that police fire their weapons a few times a year while on duty, and 83 percent estimate that the typical officer has fired his or her service weapon at least once in their careers. In fact, only 27 percent of officers say they have ever fired their service weapon while on the job, reports the Pew Research Center.
Male officers, white officers, those working in larger cities and those who are military veterans are more likely than female officers, racial and ethnic minorities, those in smaller communities and non-veterans to have ever fired their service weapon while on duty. An analysis of officers’ views on a range of law enforcement issues finds that having fired a service weapon bears a consistent relationship to several key attitudes. While solid majorities of those who have and have not fired their weapon favor protecting gun rights over controlling gun ownership, officers who have fired their weapon are somewhat more likely to favor protecting gun rights than those who have not used their firearm.
Officers who have fired their weapon are somewhat more likely to approve of harsh, physical methods for dealing with some people than their colleagues who have not discharged their gun.