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Myth Four

Assault Weapons Pose No Threat to America's Police

A favorite argument made by the NRA and the gun industry in attempting to overturn the federal ban on assault weapons is that such weapons pose little or no threat to our nation's police officers.

In fact, in 1995, one in 10 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty was felled by an assault weapon as defined in the "Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994."[21] This grim statistic is consistent with the real-world experience of cops on the beat. As Baltimore City Drug Enforcement Officer Gerald Hensley testified in 1995 before the House Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee:

Since joining the Police Department, I have seen the firepower of criminals, particularly drug dealers, grow from small caliber revolvers to military-style weapons which can shoot 30 bullets in less than ten seconds. In my years of service I have personally encountered assault weapons on several occasions....I participated in the service of a search and seizure warrant at a drug house where we found and confiscated a semi-automatic TEC-9. The weapon, which was fully loaded with 30 rounds, was on the bottom shelf of a closet in a bedroom occupied by children. In May of 1991, I myself was threatened by a semi-automatic TEC-9. While on a routine patrol of a suspected drug area, my two partners and I noticed suspicious activity. While my two partners went in the back way, I went in the front. As I entered the house I noticed a gunman lying in wait for my partners with the TEC-9. I shouted to him and he turned and prepared to shoot me. Before he could, I shot and killed him.[22]
Furthermore, The Urban Institute's 1997 evaluation of the federal assault weapons ban found that the number of murders of police officers perpetrated with assault weapons is higher than that for civilian gun murders. [23] When they are available, assault weapons are the preferred weapons of cop killers.


That Was Then...

   Introduction

   Myth One

   Myth Two

   Myth Three

   Myth Four

   Conclusion

   Endnotes






All contents 1998 Violence Policy Center