Online Program

Firearm Prevalence and Homicides of Law Enforcement Officers in the United States

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

David Swedler, PhD, MPH, Environmental and Occupational Health Scienecs, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Molly Simmons, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Francesca Dominici, PhD, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA
David Hemenway, PhD, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Objectives. In the U.S., state firearm ownership has been correlated with homicide rates. Over 90% of homicides of law enforcement officers (LEOs) are committed with firearms. This study examined the relationship between state firearm ownership rates and LEO occupational homicide rates. Methods. LEOs killed from 1996 – 2010 were obtained from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) database. Homicide rates per state were calculated as number of officers killed per number of LEOs per state, obtained from another FBI database. Mean household firearm ownership for each state came from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. For regression analyses, violent crime rate, obtained from FBI data, and other covariates associated with LEO homicide rate were selected as control variables. Results. In negative binomial regression, firearm ownership was associated with LEO homicide rates per 10,000 officers (IRR = 1.040, p = 0.009); the relationship between violent crime rate and LEO homicides approached significance (IRR = 1.002, p = 0.073). These results were supported by cross-sectional and longitudinal sensitivity analyses. LEO homicide rates were three-times higher in states with high firearm ownership compared to states with low firearm ownership. Conclusions. High public gun ownership is a risk for occupational mortality for LEOs in the U.S. States could consider methods for reducing firearm ownership as a way to reduce occupational deaths of LEOs.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe state-level counts and rates of line-of-duty homicides of law enforcement officers (LEOs) in the U.S. across the study period. Compare LEO homicide rates in the states with the highest and lowest firearm ownership rates. Display firearm ownership rates and LEO homicide rates for each state. Test the relationship of state firearm ownership and violent crime rates to LEO homicide rates in the presence of covariates known to affect homicide rates in the general population.

Keyword(s): Violence & Injury Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have presented twice before at the APHA ICEHS section and chaired the motor vehicle section last year.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.