Skip to main content
Police Misconduct

A closer look at police who have fired their weapon on duty

By November 24, 2017April 26th, 2024No Comments

With police officer-involved shootings making headlines and viral social media posts across the country, you might be tempted to think that a large percentage of police officers have been in a situation in which they have fired their duty weapon.

According to the Pew Research Center, that assumption would be false.

A survey conducted by Pew showed that only 27 percent of law enforcement officers have ever fired their service weapon while on duty. But there is question as to whether some officers are more prone to fire their weapons than others.

Who is more likely to fire their gun in the line of duty?

Pew’s survey found the following when conducting research on which officers are more likely to fire their service weapon:

  • Male officers are more than twice as likely as female officers to shoot their service weapon. Thirty percent of male officers have fired their weapons, while only 11 percent of female officers have done the same. This is still true even after taking into account the differences in what kinds of jobs they have, the length of time they have served, their age, and the size of the city and department where they serve.
  • White officers are more likely than minority officers to have shot their duty guns — the statistic is 31 percent vs. 21 percent.
  • Did you know that military veterans account for 28 percent of all police officers in the United States? And it turns out, a higher percentage of veterans who are police officers have fired their weapon while on duty.
  • Another interesting fact is that in cities with higher violent crime rates, fewer officers have fired their guns. In cities with lower violent crime rates, police officers were “significantly” more likely to have fired their weapon.
  • In larger cities with larger departments, there’s a higher chance that an officer has fired his or her weapon.

What are the characteristics of people who have fired their service weapon?

Here are a few key findings of the survey that might also surprise you:

  • Officers who have fired their weapons while on duty are “somewhat” more likely to favor harsher, more physical interactions for dealing with suspects.
  • They are more likely to believe that civil rights for black Americans are up to par and don’t need any tweaking.
  • Officers who have fired their weapon while on duty are more likely to favor Second Amendment rights and gun ownership as opposed to gun control.

Regardless of officers’ attitudes, firing a gun while on duty is a serious situation that calls for a thorough investigation.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of police brutality or excessive force, you need an experienced civil rights attorney on your side. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today for help.