Effects of state-level policy changes on homicide and nonfatal shootings of law enforcement officers

Inj Prev. 2016 Aug;22(4):274-8. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041825. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Objective: To evaluate the impact of state-level policy changes on assaults on law enforcement officers (LEOs) in the USA.

Methods: Pooled time series and cross-sections with negative binomial regression were used to estimate the impact of state-level changes of right-to-carry (RTC), three-strikes and permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun laws on fatal and non-fatal assaults of LEOs. LEO assaults were stratified by weapon type (all methods, handgun and non-handgun) and whether or not the assault was fatal. Data were collected from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted database and analysed for the period 1984-2013 for fatal assaults and 1998-2013 for non-fatal assaults.

Results: RTC laws showed no association with fatal (p>0.4) or non-fatal (p>0.15) assaults on LEOs. Three-strikes laws were associated with a 33% increase in the risk of fatal assaults on LEOs. Connecticut's PTP law was not associated with fatal (p>0.16) or non-fatal (p>0.13) assaults. Missouri's repeal of its PTP legislation was marginally associated with a twofold increased risk of non-fatal handgun assaults (p=0.089).

Conclusions: This research indicates that three-strikes laws increase the risk of fatal assaults. RTC laws are not associated with increased risk of assault. Missouri's PTP repeal may increase the risk of non-fatal handgun assaults.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Crime Victims*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Homicide / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Homicide / prevention & control*
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ownership / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Police*
  • Policy Making
  • Public Policy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*