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