It makes sense that one of the tasks police often have to do is remove guns from the street. You might not know though that sometimes those guns found on the street were once held by police officers. In this Reveal Podcast (from the Center for Investigative Reporting) 21 police departments in Texas had sold back some of their weapons in the last decade, which added up to more than 10,000 guns back in circulation.
Now there are some rules, and there are some reasons behind this (as they talk about in the above podcast). For one thing, police officers need to be armed with weapons in tip-top shape. no one is disputing that. This leads to having weapons that are no longer usable by the police department but are still usable in general. So what happens when guns reach this point? They are sold back to a distributor, i.e. a gun store. Police departments don't sell directly to the people, the gun stores do.
This leads to the tragic potential of police officers possibly being killed by ex-police weapons.
Now many of the police departments that sell their weapons say that it comes down to a business decision. The department needs the money, and this is a way to get it. Also, there is a pretty good argument for saying that the police department shouldn't concern themselves too much with this, if someone should decide who sells guns, and to whom, then that decision should be made by Congress, but still, the idea that police officers might be trying to get guns off the street, that are there because they sold them, should give us some pause, and should merit some kind of discussion.
Now, speaking of the police, and Congress passing gun laws, how do police officers feel about gun laws?
Well, it isn't unanimous, there seem to be two different groups. In this Guardian article they say "police chiefs and major city forces tend to favor more stringent gun laws, elected sheriffs and smaller departments are likely to lean the other way. "
This is an issue that seems to have divided police officers just as much as it has the rest of the country. One question we would need to answer is, does the presence of guns make policing more dangerous? One study talked about in this NBC article sought to answer that question, saying: “In states where firearms are more prevalent, officers responding to reports of domestic violence are more often entering potentially lethal situations compared to officers responding to such calls in states with lower firearm prevalence."
So where does that leave us? In the same article talking about the study, the author of the study put it best saying "If people in the United States are concerned about the lives of police officers, think about the laws in your state regarding firearms."