MORGANTOWN — Rural police officers are often torn between personal and professional beliefs when it comes to gun control, according to a WVU study.
As law enforcement living in the same rural areas where they work, they are constantly under the scrutiny of their neighbors. They patrol widespread geographic areas. They regularly encounter alcohol and drug problems, mental health issues and domestic violence. They acknowledge nearly everyone they meet is armed.
WVU professor Rachael Woldoff, a sociologist in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, examines these experiences in her study “Unpacking Heat: Dueling Identities and Complex Views on Gun Control among Rural Police.”
This study, to be published in the journal Rural Sociology, is the first to explore gun control views of rural U.S. police officers.
The aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., motivated Woldoff to pursue the research.
“It is interesting to find out the nature of (rural police officers’) views about guns and how they have evolved from the time they were children to where we are right now, in a world where people are shooting up schools and campuses and drug problems have reached the rural areas,” Woldoff said.
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