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Tragic Milestone Passed as U.S. Records 200th Shooting of a Law Enforcement Officer in 2016

December 1, 2016

200th Shooting Follows a Spike in Shootings of Police Officers in Recent Weeks, According to Data Collected by Everytown for Gun Safety

NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety, the country’s largest gun violence prevention organization, today published data (available here) showing law enforcement officers have been wounded or killed in 200 shootings in the United States so far this year. The 200th shooting occurred last night in Tacoma, WA, when an officer was fatally shot while responding to a reported domestic violence call.

“Day and night, police officers run toward danger to keep the rest of us safe, and this tragic milestone is a sobering reminder of the risks they face,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We have to reduce those risks, and data shows that we can – by making it harder for criminals to get guns. It’s long past time to close the dangerous loophole in our laws that lets criminals buy guns with no background check and no questions asked.”

Data collected by Everytown and made public online today shows:

  • Since January 1, 2016, there have been at least 200 assaultive shootings, resulting in 259 law enforcement victims, including 56 deaths and 203 injuries to officers.
  • The 200th shooting follows a particularly deadly period for law enforcement officers this year: at least 11 officers were fatally shot in November, and the first two weeks of November were the deadliest 14-day period for officers so far this year.
  • Relative to their population, Alaska, New Mexico, Missouri, South Carolina, and Kansas have seen the most shootings of law enforcement officers so far this year.
  • Officers were more frequently shot while serving a warrant or during a domestic violence call than on any other type of call: at least 28 percent of officers shot in the line of duty so far this year were shot while serving an outstanding warrant or during a domestic violence call.
  • Previous research by Everytown has shown that the majority of people who fatally shoot law enforcement officers were prohibited from having guns under state or federal law—and therefore would have likely failed a criminal background check if one had been required at the time of purchase.

The data released today offers a new look at the impact of gun violence on law enforcement. While seemingly “at random” shootings and shootings on routine patrol often receive national media attention, these shootings have accounted for a relatively small fraction of the shootings of law enforcement officers so far this year. Additionally, more officers were shot serving a warrant or responding to a domestic violence call than on any other type of call for service – a statistic that highlights the dangerous intersection of domestic violence and gun violence.

The data also highlights the importance of requiring a background check for every gun sale. Federal law requires background checks for guns sold by licensed dealers, but not for guns sold by unlicensed sellers — meaning that criminals can skip the background check requirement simply by buying a gun from strangers they meet online or at gun shows.

As a result, far too many gun sales in this country take place with no criminal background check. This loophole has deadly consequences, including for law enforcement: Data released by Everytown last year revealed that the majority (52 percent) of people who shot and killed U.S. law enforcement officers in 2013, were prohibited from buying or possessing the gun they used in the shooting.

Recognizing the importance of background checks, 19 states have gone beyond federal law to require criminal background checks on all handgun sales, and statistics from these states are encouraging. In states that require a background check on all handgun sales, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns.

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