By Columnist Jim Kouri
In the midst of the heated gun-control debate in the nation's capital, a leading Internet web site exclusively for federal state and local law enforcement, on Monday released the surprising results of a survey of police professionals from across the U.S.
The survey provides revealing insights into the opinions of American law enforcement regarding gun control policies and the root causes of, and potential solutions, to gun crime in the U.S.
The organization that released the survey – PoliceOne.com – conducted the study in early March 2013.
PoliceOne.com officials stated that their research team received 15,000 responses from law enforcement professionals in agencies and departments throughout the nation.
The survey answers revealed that the overall attitude of law enforcement is strongly anti-gun legislation and pro-gun rights, with the belief that an armed citizenry is effective in stopping crime.
Among the results:
• 86 percent feel the currently proposed legislation would have no effect or a negative effect on improving officer safety.
• Similarly, 92 percent feel that banning semi-automatic firearms, or “assault weapons,” would have no effect or a negative effect on reducing violent crime.
• Demonstrating the opinion that the best way to combat gun crime is through harsher punishment, 91 percent said the use of a firearm while perpetrating a crime should lead to a stiff, mandatory sentence with no plea bargains. Likewise, 59 percent believe increasing punishment severity for unlicensed dealers would reduce crime.
• Respondents were more split on background checks, with 31 percent agreeing that mental health background checks in all gun sales would help reduce mass shootings, while 45 percent disagreed.
• 71 percent support law enforcement leaders who have publicly refused to enforce more restrictive gun laws within their jurisdictions.
• 82 percent believe gun buyback or turn-in programs are ineffective in reducing the level of gun violence.
• 91 percent support the concealed carry of firearms by civilians who have not been convicted of a felony and/or have not been deemed psychologically incapable.
• Likewise, 80 percent feel that legally-armed citizens would likely have reduced the number of casualties in recent mass shooting incidents.
• 38 percent believe the biggest cause of gun violence in the United States is the “decline in parenting and family values”. This was trailed by “overly lax parole and short sentencing standards” at 15 percent and “pop culture influence” (eg. violent movies and video games) at 14 percent.
The survey was promoted by PoliceOne.com exclusively to its 400,000 registered members, comprised of individually-verified law enforcement professionals. Only current, former or retired law enforcement personnel were eligible to participate in the survey.
Respondents comprised a variety of ranks from departments of all sizes, with the majority representing departments of greater than 500 officers. Of those who took the survey, 80 percent were current law enforcement officers and 20 percent were former/retired law enforcement.
Jim Kouri, CPP, the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.