For Release: Monday, December 11, 1995
September 1995 VPC Study Reveals That at Least One in 10 Police Officers Killed in the Line of Duty Will Be Felled by Assault Weapons
A study released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) earlier this year documents that one out of 10 law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty will be slain by assault weapons. The study, Cop Killers: Assault Weapon Attacks on America’s Police, was the first-ever national analysis of assault weapon incidents involving police and was released on September 12th, 1995 the first anniversary of enactment of the federal assault weapons ban.
The study was based on a survey of newspaper clips collected from across the country for a five-month period from February to July 1995. The survey identified eight police officers killed by assault weapons. The survey also found nine officers wounded by assault weapons. The study documents 20 incidents in which at least 43 law enforcement officers were confronted by assailants armed with assault weapons. The study which contains copies of the actual news clips is not comprehensive and the actual total of assault weapon attacks on police is almost certainly higher. Assault weapon attacks on police were reported in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Utah. Law enforcement personnel were killed by assault weapons in California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey.
Assault weapons were banned in September 1994. However, assault weapons manufactured prior to the ban were “grandfathered,” meaning that the sale and possession of pre-ban assault weapons remains legal. Pro-gun members of Congress and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have pushed to overturn the assault weapons ban since the 104th Congress convened in January 1995. On December 5th Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) promised that a House vote on the repeal would occur by the end of the year. The key argument of repeal advocates is that assault weapons are only used by law-abiding citizens and pose no significant hazard to police.
Kristen Rand, director of federal policy for the Violence Policy Center and author of the study, states, “A repeal of the assault weapons ban would make it clear that the 104th Congress places the wishes of the pro-gun special interests over the safety of America’s police.”