Numbers of Firearms vs. Officers Killed in the U.S. 1961 – 2013

By Dean WeingartenOfficers Feloniously Killed vs Private Firarms 1961 to 2013

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -( In the 1960’s, the United States private firearms stock was increasing.  The number of police officers feloniously killed was also increasing.  At the time, people might be forgiven if they thought there was a causal relationship.  Now we have considerable more data.  While the private firearms stock has continued to increase, the number of police feloniously killed has fallen from the highs in the early to mid 1970s, and has dropped to about the same level as the middle 1960s.   2013 had the lowest number of police feloniously killed since 1887.

The number of private firearms was obtained from the ATF and “Point Blank”  by Gary Kleck, using Kleck’s method of calculating the numbers from ATF data, in this previous article.

The number of police feloniously killed was obtained from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), or in some cases, secondary sources quoting the FBI UCR data.

The number of privately own firearms does not correlate with the felonious killing of police.

Hypothetical reasons postulated for a negative or positive correlation are abundant.

“More Guns, More Crime”

“More Guns, Less Crime”

“Guns Foster Responsibility”

“Guns Foster Irresponsibility”

Many more could be listed.

Aside from hypotheticals, a large increase in the private stock of firearms has occurred at the same time as a significant decrease in the felonious killing of police.  Since the middle of the 1970s, the stock of private firearms has soared while the number of felonious police killings has drifted lower.

Good data on the number of police officers is hard to find before 1989.  That makes per capita data for police officers uncertain.  For the period from 1989 to 2011, the rate of officers feloniously killed dropped from 18.12 per 100,000, to 13.44 per 100,000.   During the same period, the number of firearms per person rose from .85 to 1.07 in the United States.

In 2013, the number of police feloniously killed was at a record low, and the number of firearms in the United States was at a record high.

Now, in 2015, we are seeing a spike in officers killed.  The spike may be related to the enormous news coverage of unarmed  black criminals killed during encounters with police, and the seeming official disparagement of the police by the current administration.  In addition, the homicide rate is rising in urban centers where police activity has been reduced and/or police are being ordered to be less proactive.

It is clear that the increase in the number of private firearms is not the causal factor for an increase in the felonious killing of police officers.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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6 years ago

Population of officers is going up as well, so the proportion killed each year has seen an even steeper decline.