Argument: Law enforcement agents are put at a greater risk due to assault weapons

“Law enforcement agencies regularly recover assault weapons during searches conducted while investigating other crimes. One in five police officers killed in the line of duty during 1998-2001 were slain with assault weapons, which may explain why the International Association of Chiefs of Police
supports a federal ban.”

“In the 1980s and early 1990s, law enforcement reported that assault weapons were the “weapons of choice” for drug traffickers, gangs, terrorists, and paramilitary extremist groups that they often faced in violent encounters. As Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said recently:

There is a reason that these weapons are so appealing to criminals. They are designed to be easily concealed and kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Congress must act and act now to protect the American public and our police officers from these deadly weapons. This is about public safety and law enforcement.25
Because of their high firepower, assault weapons in the hands of criminals leave the police badly outgunned. Congress acted to ban these guns in 1994 after learning of the tragic consequences of these guns for our nation’s law enforcement officers.26 For example:

  • Manassas, VA, July 24, 1988 – Five Manassas City police officers responded to a call about shots being fired in a quiet Washington, DC suburb. The gunman, armed with an AR-15 assault weapon, opened fire on Sergeant John D. Connors III, hitting him in the head, chest, arm, and leg. He became the first officer killed in the line of duty in the department’s 113 year history.27
  • Los Angeles, CA, September 3, 1988 – Los Angeles Police Officer Daniel Pratt was following a vehicle suspected to have been involved in an earlier drive-by shooting when approximately 30 rounds were fired at his police car by gang members armed with an AR-15. Pratt was shot in the face and pronounced dead at the hospital. Three children and his wife, pregnant with their fourth child, survived him.28
  • Dallas, TX, December 13, 1988 – A 17-year veteran senior corporal with the Dallas Police Department was killed while making an undercover cocaine purchase. The officer was killed when the assailant pulled a TEC-9 assault pistol from under his coat and fired seven shots.29
  • Dayton, OH, March 21, 1991 – A 15 year veteran of the Dayton police force, William “Steve” Whalen, was shot and killed by a mentally ill man armed with an AR-15. The deranged suspect had been pursued by two officers for firing shots at a local motel. Upon being pulled over, the suspect sprayed the officers with fire, killing Whalen and wounding Lt. Randy Beane.30
  • Northridge, CA, February 22, 1994 – Officer Christy Lynne Hamilton of the Los Angeles Police Department was gunned down with an AR-15 assault rifle by a teenager who had already used the gun to kill his father. Officer Hamilton graduated from the Police Academy three days prior to the shooting.31

For these reasons, law enforcement has been united in support of banning these weapons. Every major national law enforcement organization in the country supported the Federal Assault Weapons Act and worked for its passage. The police groups fighting to save the statute include the Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, National Black Police Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Police Executive Research Forum, and Police Foundation.