In several states with gun lobby backed state legislatures and Republican majorities, lawmakers have passed laws to weaken gun safety laws — and they’ve done so in spite of aggressive, vocal opposition from local law enforcement who have raised the alarm about the danger that rolling back training and permitting requirements for carrying a concealed gun in public poses to the public and to police officers, according the Associated Press.
“There is something of a disjunction between repeating the political slogan of ‘back the blue’ versus supporting policies that rank-and-file police and leaders of police organizations actually support,” Robert Spitzer, a professor at The State University of New York-Cortland and author of “The Politics of Gun Control” told the AP.
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In states like Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana, police opposed pushes to drop requirements for people to get background checks and training before carrying handguns in public, plans that came as gun sales continued to shatter records during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We feel it was just another opportunity to get our officers hurt,” said Fabian Blache Jr., executive director of the Louisiana Chiefs of Police Association. “It was a danger to law enforcement.”
Gun violence is on the rise across the country and law enforcement agencies are struggling with how to manage the spikes, especially in cities. The federal government has stepped in with strike forces and other measures help to stop the sale of illegal weapons. Cops are already working at a disadvantage in many cities over forces winnowed by retirements and difficulty attracting new officers following the massive police protests in 2020, and many see looser gun laws as one more challenge.
Not knowing who might be carrying a gun heightens the potential danger in any encounter, and less required training means more people who don’t know how to properly handle a weapon, Blanche said.
“One thing I’ve learned in my many years of working with police is, you can rely on them to tell you what’s going to put the public at danger,” said Everytown For Gun Safety President John Feinblatt. “I think that what police know is that crime is rising around the country and this is the worst possible moment to pass laws like this.”