PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – Thursday’s officer-involved shooting highlights the dangers involved in policing — and brought back memories in Provo of a police officer killed in 2019.

Fatal police shootings, and their connection to state gun laws, are the subject of a study by the American Journal of Public Health.

“For states with the strongest firearm laws, the incidence rate of fatal police shootings was more than 50% lower than for states with the weakest firearm laws,” according to the study.

“This study suggests that in states where there are weaker gun laws, the citizens are more likely to be killed by law enforcement,” it reads.

The study, which included data more than five years old, resonates for Terri Gilfillan, with the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah. Most recently, she says, the state’s new law allowing permit-less conceal and carry has made police work more dangerous.

“It actually has promoted more guns into unchecked and unsafe hands, loaded and hidden. So now, law enforcement must assume in every encounter that a person is armed and potentially dangerous,” said Gilfillan.

She says loosening gun restrictions, just as gun sales are surging, is problematic and dangerous.

“The more firearms that are in the hands of everyday people, the more concerning it is with every encounter via a police officer. Their life could be in danger in every encounter because someone is carrying a firearm,” said Gilfillan.

But Clark Aposhian with Utah Shooting Sports Council disagrees — with her argument about guns, and with the study’s assertions about the connection between gun laws and deadly police shootings.

“We have obviously one of the most, if not the most, permissive ability to own firearms in the nation. Utahns do. Yet we have of the lowest crime rates, and that’s a crime with guns included, in the nation,” said Aposhian.

“Ask the cops. Who shoots at them? People that are not legally allowed to have guns. That is not a deficiency of Utah law,” added Aposhian.

According to the study. Utah ranked 27th out of 50 states for the strength of its gun laws.