All police officers in England and Wales are to be asked if they want to routinely carry a gun.
The survey by the Police Federation, which represents 123,000 officers, will begin next week.
It is the first national survey to ask police about dropping the principle of normally being unarmed since 2006.
Che Donald, the federation’s firearms lead said: “The question of routinely arming police officers is a challenging one and one that regularly crops up, but, given the current climate, we feel it’s time to seek the views of our members again.
“Policing has changed significantly over recent years, not just around the types of crime we are dealing with and greater use of technology, but also the threat, harm and risk to the public and to officers themselves.
“This survey seeks to determine our members’ views to inform our position on the issue of routine arming. Over the last few years a handful of forces have been surveyed individually on this issue, but we are keen to establish a fresh national view.”
It comes as new figures showed that the number of firearms operations conducted by the police in the last year was up 7 per cent as gun crime and knife crime leaps.
Mr Donald said: “Undoubtedly the increase is down to the world we now live in. Recent crime statistics show that knife crime has increased by 20% and gun crime by 23%. In addition, this period covers the Westminster terror attack, and after that we had Manchester and then London Bridge with multiple loss of life to innocent members of the public.”
The Home Office figures also showed an increase of 639 armed officers from the previous year, bringing the current total to 6,278. “But this is still short of the Government’s promised uplift of 1,500,” Mr Donald said. ”