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Examining the Relevance of Contextual Gun Ownership on Fatal Police Shootings
Justice Quarterly  (IF4.717),  Pub Date : 2021-05-24, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2021.1922733
Keller G. Sheppard, Gregory M. Zimmerman, Emma E. Fridel


Police use of deadly force represents a pressing public policy issue with implications for police-community relationships and equitable access to justice. A growing body of literature considering the structural factors influencing officers’ exposure to potential violence suggests that context plays a pivotal role in officer use of deadly force. This study explores how local gun ownership rates impact fatal police shootings for a national sample of large law enforcement agencies. Two-level negative binomial regression models examine the organizational and contextual correlates of fatal police shootings from 2014 to 2018, nesting 758 law enforcement agencies within 408 counties. Results indicate that agencies operating within areas characterized by high rates of violent crime and gun ownership were involved in more fatal police shootings. The findings underscore the importance of contextual cues of danger that police officers respond to during fatal police shootings.