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Police Gun Control Survey: Are legally-armed citizens the best solution to gun violence?

When it comes to reducing gun violence in America, nobody else in the country has anything close to the experience-based perspective from which cops can speak

Gun Survey 2013

Police1 has scored a major scoop in police journalism by conducting a survey of more than 15,000 law enforcers regarding their thoughts on gun control in America.

These men and women — most of whom actually work the street — have a front row seat to see gun violence in America. They put their lives at risk when they do their jobs, actually coming face-to-face with violent encounters involving firearms.

And when it comes to finding ways to reduce gun violence and large scale shootings, most cops say a federal ban on so-called “assault weapons” isn’t the answer.

More than 91 percent of respondents say it would either have no effect or a negative effect in reducing violent crime. This is an overwhelming response by those whose job it is to actually deal with this issue on the front lines.

Instead, it is interesting to note that many respondents consider armed citizens as a potential asset in reducing the carnage from a mass murder situation; proactive choices dominate over gun and magazine restrictions and bans.

More than 91 percent of respondents support the concealed carry of firearms by civilians who have not been convicted of a felony and/or not been deemed psychologically/medically incapable.

A full 86 percent feel that casualties would have been reduced or avoided in recent tragedies like Newtown and Aurora if a legally-armed citizen was present (casualties reduced: 80 percent; avoided altogether: 60 percent).

For those who chose the option of casualties being avoided altogether, I took this to mean the deterrent effect of a show of force prior to an event would stop a potential predator from carrying out his murderous intent in the first place.

What checks the sociopath from completing his act is fear. Fear of the unknown or known gun carrier who is going to punch his ticket to hell right then and right there. This has an immediate effect on reducing violent criminal activity.

Cops on the street know the value of officer presence and being ready to go. Criminals see it too, and stay in check. I know from my own street experience how being in shape, being well prepared along with a sharp uniform appearance kept things from escalating time and time again.

More than 81 percent of respondents were in favor of arming teachers and school administrators if they were properly trained and vetted or at least proficient.

Yet, with a few notable exceptions, most teachers and school officials are opposed to this measure. Overcoming this kind of resistance will be a major roadblock to making our schools safer.

In addition, the survey asked, “On a scale of one to five — one being low and five being high — how important do you think legally-armed citizens are to reducing crime rates overall?”

Three quarters of you (75 percent) answered either four or five, with more than 50 percent answering five.

What would help most in preventing large scale shootings in public? The most popular answer among respondents – at 29 percent – was “more permissive concealed carry policies for civilians,” while 20 percent choose “more-aggressive institutionalization for mentally ill persons.”

More armed guards/paid security personnel (16 percent) and improved background screening to determine mental wellness of gun purchasers (14 percent) were the other two preventative measures most selected in the poll.

Clearly we have a majority of our gun carrying, member officers who feel that armed citizens are an asset in reducing violent crime and not a liability. This will be refreshing news for armed citizens who wonder about police attitudes in general on concealed carry.

From all ranks, from Sheriffs and Chiefs on down, the vast majority (95 percent) say a federal ban on the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds would not reduce violent crime.

This is in sharp contrast to my own home state of Colorado, where the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police stood in support of the magazine ban and other restrictions while many Sheriffs bluntly said in the press that they would not enforce any bans on magazines or so called assault weapons.

I will allow myself one personal observation. If you want to disarm yourself, that is your choice. The following quote is a favorite of mine and something to keep in mind when you make that choice.

“Sheep don’t tell wolves what’s for dinner.”

Ron Avery is President and Director of Training for The Practical Shooting Academy, Inc. and Executive Director of the non-profit, Rocky Mountain Tactical Institute - both training institutions dedicated to professional firearms and tactics courses, higher police standards and training and use of force research.

Ron is a former police officer with many years of street experience, which he brings into the training environment. He is internationally recognized as a researcher, firearms trainer and world class shooter. His training methodology is currently being used by hundreds of agencies and thousands of individuals across the US and internationally.

He has worked as a consultant and trainer for top level federal agencies, special operations military from all branches of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies across the US.

He is a weapons and tactics trainer for, handgun, carbine, select fire, precision rifle and shotgun, as well as advanced instructor schools, defensive tactics, team skills and tactics, low light tactics, arrest and control and officer survival. He is also a consultant for firearms training programs, use of force and firearms research, range development, instructor development and other firearm related topics.

For over 25 years he has consistently ranked among the best shooters in the world in national, international and world championship competitions, winning many different titles including two-time National Law Enforcement Champion. In 2002, he represented his country as a member of the first place, United States Practical Shooting Association’s “Gold Team” in the Standard Division in the World Championships in South Africa.

As a published writer, his articles have been featured in SWAT Magazine, Petersen’s Handguns, American Handgunner, U.S.P.S.A.'s Front Sight, Colorado State Shooting Association and other law enforcement publications and journals.