Take the annual survey by the National Association of Chiefs of Police of more than 20,000 chiefs of police and sheriffs. In 2010 it found that 95% believed "any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport or self-defense." Seventy-seven percent believed that concealed-handgun permits issued in one state should be honored by other states "in the way that drivers' licenses are recognized through the country"—and that making citizens' permits portable would "facilitate the violent crime-fighting potential of the professional law enforcement community."
National surveys of street officers are rare, but they show officers to be overwhelmingly in favor of law-abiding civilians owning and carrying guns. A 2007 national survey of sworn police officers by Police Magazine found that 88% disagreed that "tighter restrictions on handgun ownership would increase or enhance public safety." In the same survey, 67% opposed tighter gun control because the "law would only be obeyed by law-abiding citizens."
Regional or local surveys show similar patterns. For example, a 1997 survey conducted by the San Diego Police Officers Association found that 82% of its officers opposed an "assault weapons" ban, 82% opposed a limitation on magazine capacity, and 85% supported letting law-abiding private citizens carry concealed handguns.
These are not views consistent with Mayor Bloomberg's assertion: "The bottom line is if we had fewer guns, we would have a lot fewer murders." Police generally understand that too often the laws disarm law-abiding citizens, not criminals, and thus make it easier for criminals to commit crime. Police are extremely important for reducing crime, but they know that virtually always they arrive at the crime scene after the crime has been committed. When victims face a criminal by themselves, guns are critical for self-defense.
Read More: John Lott for The Wall Street Journal