Pew Poll: Urban Officers Favor People’s Right to Arms

By CTD Blogger published on in General

Pew Research has released a poll taken in the middle of 2016. Note that the Orlando night club massacre and the massive media hype calling for a ban on “assault weapons” occurred one-third of the way through the survey period for police. The shooting of five police officers in Dallas, with a rifle, occurred half-way through the survey period.

By Dean Weingarten

The public survey was conducted two months after the Orlando Pulse shooting, at the height of the establishment media demonization of “assault weapons,” and one month after the shooting of five officers in Dallas.

Officers Practicing Adverse Weather Shooting. Photo Courtesy of the Massachusetts State Police.

Officers Practicing Adverse Weather Shooting. Photo Courtesy of the Massachusetts State Police.

The poll is more correctly a poll of urban police officers than of all police officers. Rural and small town police officers were excluded from the poll. Those officers make up 37% of the officers in police and sheriff’s departments in the country. Even the urban officers strongly favored the right to arms. From

Police officers are considerably more likely than the general public to say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns than it is to control gun ownership (74% of officers vs. 53% of the public).

Both urban police and the public expressed support of a national database to track gun sales. Precisely what is meant by that is left to the reader’s imagination. The public portion of this poll was taken at the height of establishment media propaganda for more restrictions on guns after the Orlando Pulse shooting.

A majority of police and a larger share of the public also support the creation of a federal database to track gun sales (61% and 71%, respectively).

There is an enormous split between urban police attitudes about banning assault-style (whatever that means) weapons and the public attitude. Again, these surveys were taken, for the most part, shortly after the Orlando Pulse shooting.

However, the consensus on guns vanishes when the focus turns to assault-style weapons. About two-thirds of Americans (64%) but only about one-third of police (32%) favor outlawing assault weapons.

This is not surprising. Urban police almost never encounter semi-automatic rifles in the course of their duties. They know that overall, rifles, such as the many AR-15 and various AK-type variants, are extremely rare in crime. Many officers, even urban officers, are familiar with these type of rifles and have qualified with them.

That cannot be said for the general public. The public survey was taken exclusively after the Orlando Pulse massacre and the media driven propaganda aimed at banning assault weapons.

After the Orlando shooting, the term “assault weapon” was conflated with AR and AK variants. This is why Pew asked about “assault-style” weapons rather than assault weapons or assault rifles. Assault weapon is a specific legal term that includes many handguns and shotguns, including most magazines used by police in their handguns. Assault rifle is a specific technical term that excludes nearly all AR and AK variants in the United States. “Assault style” is vague enough to include the rifle used in the Orlando shooting.

If we have discovered anything about attitudes toward the Second Amendment and public ownership of firearms, it is that there is an enormous gulf between rural and small town America and urban America. Yet, the sample was deliberately and heavily weighted toward large, urban police and sheriff’s departments, ignoring officers in small town and rural departments. From

The main survey is an online poll of a nationally representative sample of 7,917 officers working in 54 police and sheriff’s departments with 100 or more sworn officers. (Some 63% of all sworn officers work in departments of this size.)

The first sentence in the quote above is not true. The survey is *not* a nationally representative sample. The survey ignored rural and small town America, where about 37% of American police officers (pdf) live and work. It heavily weighted the poll toward large urban departments where about 25% of American police officers live. Included in the poll, but given less representation, were urban police officers in cities of 100,000 to 500,000.

The sample was taken from the largest 5% of police and sheriff’s departments. Of approximately 15,400 departments, half have less than 10 officers.

The departments sampled averaged over 1,000 officers per department.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (pdf 2013 data), there are only 49 departments in the entire United States that have more than 1,000 sworn officers.

It is easy to understand why small departments were not sampled. It is simply harder to do. Instead of obtaining cooperation with one police chief, cooperation with 20 is required. This selection bias skews the sample significantly.

It is almost certain the percentage of police with positive attitudes toward the Second Amendment would have been higher if rural and small town America officers had been included in the sample.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Link to Gun Watch.

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Comments (35)

  • DaveW


    Then clearly you have never taken the time to actually converse with any… or you have been on the wrong side of the law.

    Many of my fellow officers have been from minority groups, and they have stood up for all AMERICAN CITIZENS having a constitutional right. They do exclude criminals.


  • Primo


    ok.. So 1st ” “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.” Does this mean he who can not police teach police officers? I don’t know how that statement effects your argument. I expressed my source because I’m honest. When you express things that are not of your own as if they are that’s plagiarism- of sorts. You say 50% of law enforcement have a college degree. Even if that were true i most certainly i can that out of that 50% most of those cops rarely see the street. They are in positions of power, intelligence gathering, or others that require them away from high volume field work. And the a lot of others have degrees that are fairly irrelevant to police work (i know a ton a cops like this). They went to college, graduated, started working, then became cops for various reasons. And your statement about skills is neither here nor there because ALL peoples’ skills fade with age eventually. That’s a fact of growing old especially working in a impacting, vigorous environment. The rookies are the least skilled and put to work in the harshest environments and you made it clear that they are the least skilled by far… “”The “knews” *pun intended* is flooded with stories of people getting shot by the police because THEY called the police for help, accidentally/purpose. Its like they don’t assess the situation before the trigger is pulled.”” <——— THANK YOU FOR SOLIDIFYING MY SENTIMENT. And this quote of yours here """This destroys your idea that fresh-from-the-academy recruits are more skilled, or that “most of them aren’t that smart” because they only have a high school equivalency"""" – reread the line about my college professor or the 1st line of this comment. Good day to you


    • G-Man


      @ Primo,

      Well “1st” before you go asking such an absurd question in a failed attempt to be witty, you should learn that police officers do not have “teachers”; they have academy instructors and on-the-job trainers that are also sworn active police officers – so they are the “doers”.

      Now that I’ve educated you on that topic, you no longer need to ponder your own comments like, “I don’t know how that statement effects [sic] your argument.” – because it has no affect upon my argument in the least.

      Now then, if you were truly striving for honesty as you’ve claimed, then you’d have instead opened your comment by saying, “In all honesty I haven’t a clue about anything I’m commenting on here, so take it all with a grain of salt…”

      But now blaming this all on your professor as your “source” shows it wasn’t so much your desire to be honest, as it was more likely your misguided belief that citing a professor would somehow lend more credibility to your personal opinion. But after I made the point that citing a liberal professor these days will actually diminish your credibility, you then decided to make excuses after getting your feelings hurt.

      So now you ridiculously attempt to explain away bringing your professor into this by writing, “When you express things that are not of your own as if they are that’s plagiarism- of sorts.” Such a statement is preposterous to think people are committing plagiarism if they fail to cite every single source from their kindergarten teacher through college professors before speaking their opinion.

      Everything a person has learned that leads to the formation of an opinion was at some point shaped from another source. So based on your preposterous theory, our entire lives have been plagiarized then because most people rarely cite every single person they’ve garnered information from before speaking.

      The reality is that once you get past your ridiculousness, you’ll simply have to admit it wasn’t your fear and worry over being a plagiarist, and instead just admit you chose to cite the professor because you felt it supported your personal opinion. Especially given your original comment was so commingled that no one could figure out where your professor’s opinion ended or yours began.

      Interestingly you’ve seriously contradicted yourself by shifting your opinion to now saying that you know “a ton” of cops that joined the force with college educations. Yet one of your biggest original points was to claim that cops “…aren’t that smart (a job that requires only a HS equivalency…)”.

      The balance of your last comment was so poorly written that I don’t dare pretend to act like I know what you were trying to say. However, if I were to hazard a guess, it appears you somehow think something I wrote helped “SOLIDFY YOUR SENTIMENT”, when in-fact it does nothing of the sort (except in your mind, I suppose). So let me once again point out the error in your ways…

      One thing I was able to decipher from your deficient commentary was that you’ve confused “skills” with “abilities”. They are not interchangeable and most jobs, especially police officers, require both. Skills can be honed no matter what your age; however abilities can diminish as one gets older.

      Since you improperly only focused your comments on “skills” I made the mistake of presuming you knew the difference – and thereafter appropriately redressed your comments accordingly.

      So you are absolutely incorrect to say, “peoples’ skills fade with age eventually”. With this and so many other flaws and contradictions throughout your train-wreck of comments, it is abundantly clear you are simply not adequately proficient enough to have engaged in this particular type of topic to begin with.

      So coming from this 34-year active federal agent, I’d hope you would agree – you just simply need to be done.


  • left coast chuck


    Wow, the Pew Foundation actually reported something slightly favorable about guns? I have to run out and buy a lotto ticket. Miracles do happen. I can die at peace now. The Pew Foundation has reported something favorable about guns. The next thing that will happen is PETA will stage a bear hunt in New Jersey. The Sierra Club will once again take a stand in favor of limiting immigration, especially to California where the population is threatening to grossly exceed the water supply, despite the rain storms we had this winter. The ACLU will file an amicus brief with SCOTUS in favor of universal concealed and open carry and the lifting of restrictions on any type of weapon that presently utilized by our armed forces so that citizens once again have parity with government forces as intended by our founding fathers.


  • Jeff


    All these so called assault weapons bans are illegal according to the Constitution these police departments swore to uphold when they were sworn in. The second amendment shall not be infringed means just that and yet everyone seems to look over the obvious. I find it pretty funny the politicians that pass these illegal gun bans have a armed security detail. And the police force have an array of Tools and weapons and man power at will to obliterate anything they put there sites on at will. And yet the common law abiding citizen that really pays all there salary’s threw taxes and revenue drawn from the public at large threw the money generating legal system cannot be armed to protect themselves or there loved ones. Sorry but personally I don’t go along with that program your lives are not more important than than the law abiding citizens. Police officers choose there profession just like the military serviceman its a dangerous job that will not change, police do not like to be outgunned and I understand that. So instead of retooling the force to handle the firepower issue they would rather make the honest law abiding citizen defenseless of there right to protect themselves and there families. So sorry if you are a LEO and you get upset if the law abiding citizen does not go along with the program. The CCW holder is and always will be the 4 ring of security and Im sure some officers who’s lives were saved by a citizen who shot his attacker will attest to that. Assault weapons have there place too for the task at hand I think Catrina has taught us that and the miss justice carried out by the New Orleans police departments in a natural disaster scenario leaving people defenseless in a natural disaster, some states passed laws to not let this illegal action repeat itself. The more politicians and police forces try and push for more gun control the less safer we all become. If you cant see this I feel sorry for you but I will never give up my right no matter who passes the law and who try’s to in forces that un Constitutional mandate.


  • rabrooks


    Idealism is easy. Idealistically we shouldn’t need police. However in the real world, where political/administrative agendas take precedence the constitution is only good in court. That’s if you make it there. Otherwise this article is pointless.
    If LEO’s followed the constitution, how could city/local govts. even consider a ban on guns or certain types of guns.
    The ‘laws’ are at the whim of and dictate of govt..
    Didn’t the last poles claim that the majority of police and civilians agree that guns should be restricted to police and military?
    However to say that the primary purpose of most, if not all leo’s is not “to make it home alive”, is patently false.


    • JJPrize


      “The ‘laws’ are at the whim of and dictate of govt..”

      There in is the fundamental problem, as it can become pretty clear that the US Founding Fathers didn’t think that should be the case — and that the citizenry should be involved in the process.

      Unfortunately it’s starting to seem like there are a great many people in this nation that would rather be “ruled” rather than “led” because being led might actually require the citizenry to “work” and be aware of what is being done (or attempted) in their name.


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