In April 2000, Lott published an article in Economic Inquiry entitled “Does a Helping Hand Put Others at Risk?: Affirmative Action, Police Departments, and Crime” (subscription required). This is what he had to say about women police and their need to shoot:

“If criminals believe that they have a greater chance of resisting arrest when officers are weaker, more assaults may be committed by criminals against women officers. In compensating for their weaker strength, women may substitute into other ways of controlling criminals —the most obvious method being guns. Although guns are a “great equalizer,” they may not completely offset differences in strength. Being less able to fall back on their physical strength to protect themselves when faced with a possible attack, women may have to determine whether they will fire their gun before the possible attacker gets into physical contact with them. If true, shorter reaction times risk resulting in more accidental shootings” (p. 241).

“Criminals are more likely to attack if they believe that an attack will successfully allow them to escape. Consistent with the hypothesis, mentioned in the introduction, that female officers have a shorter time to react to perceived threats because they must make a decision before they come into physical contact with the criminal, there is some preliminary evidence that male officers are more likely to avoid shooting civilians” (p. 260).

So, according to Lott, civilians just have to brandish their guns 98% of the time, but female police officers have to shoot much more often. I guess that must be because criminals are less intimidated by police guns than civilian guns. Or something.


  1. #1 Kevin Baker
    November 27, 2003

    Tim, police officers have their weapons taken from them at a much higher rate than the general public, too. Being in uniform means you are exposed to the criminal element at a much higher rate than the general public. It is, after all, their job. It is also their job to apprehend criminals – something that Joe Average doesn’t need to do. All Joe Average has to do is end the encounter – and if brandishing a weapon does that, it’s fulfilled its purpose.

    A police officer has to apprehend – and that means close physical contact with the criminal.

    Surely you can reach the logical conclusion?

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