Militarization of Police

Military Giveaways Continue

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In my research into the rise and overuse of SWAT teams, I found that the single biggest motivating factor behind the surge has been a Pentagon program in place since about 1990 that offers up surplus military equipment to local police departments free of charge. Literally millions of pieces of military equipment have been transferred this way, and are now being used in domestic policing. Having a bunch of military equipment lying around becomes an excellent motivator to form a paramilitary SWAT team, even if the community the police department serves doesn't really need one.

The AP reports today that there's been no slowdown in the transfers:

About 16,000 departments obtained more than 380,000 pieces of equipment in the 2005 budget year, according to an analysis of data provided by the Pentagon at the request of The Associated Press.

The items, which include night-vision goggles, copy machines, helicopters and bulletproof vests, were worth nearly $124 million.

[…]

Detectives on a drug task force in Tippecanoe County, Ind., wear military fatigues for covert surveillance of methamphetamine cooks and cocaine dealers. In Pennsylvania, the state game commission uses a tranquilizer gun to put tracking collars on bears. In Covina, Calif., police converted a military ambulance into a SWAT team vehicle.

Minnesota law enforcement agencies received 5,209 items valued at $514,574.45 during fiscal 2005. Surplus weapons were among the most common items, with 22 agencies acquiring them.

[…]

The 1960s-era armored vehicles given to Bucks County only needed paint and fresh batteries. The final cost was less than the $80,000 each would cost new, said Scott Pepperman, chief of the state's Federal Surplus and Law Enforcement Property Division.

The armored vehicles are used in standoffs and hostage situations.

"If you're in your office and barricaded, and one of these things pulls up in your front lawn, it's very intimidating," said Lt. Michael Clark of the Northampton Township Police Department in Bucks County.

Actually, they're mostly used in drug raids. The other problem is that this equipment was designed for warfare—for the killing of foreign enemies. It's now being used against U.S. citizens. It's also a further blurring of the important line we draw between the military and domestic policing. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this program was started at the urging of Congress, eager to arm the country's police officers en route to a greater militarization of the "war" on drugs.

Give police military equipment, train them in military tactics, and tell them they're fighting a "war," and it isn't at all difficult to see how some officers would adopt the "win at all costs" mentality of a soldier, instead of the community servant mentality we expect of police officers. All of which gets us results like this .

It's also unfortunate that the AP writer didn't find it necessary to quote anyone who might have objections to the giveaways.

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  1. Good thing guns don’t kill people, people do.

    Or does the presense of firepower only encourage the police to be more aggressive, but somehow not citizens?

  2. Well, at least the program doesn’t include the surplus nukes. 😛

  3. Can we give away General Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the runup to the Iraq War?

    Maybe there’s a probation officer in Duluth who needs somebody to make copies.

  4. Or does the presense of firepower only encourage the police to be more aggressive, but somehow not citizens?

    That is correct. Citizens are not empowered to storm the houses of other citizens they suspect of commiting crimes. It is not the guns themselves, but the guns combined with the legal power to conduct military style raids.

    And the proof that armed citizry can be extremly peaceful is Switzerland. They have the lowest rate of violent crime in the industrialized world, despite or because of the fact they have the most liberal gun ownership laws in the industrialized world. The population is universally armed with military weapons, and the average Swiss male is probably better armed and a better marksman than your typical U.S. SWAT team member.

    However, I challenge you to find me a place where the police have been militarized, and yet abuses by the police are extremly low. Usually, the more modestly armed the police, the more respectful they are of citizens.

  5. “The items, which include night-vision goggles, copy machines, helicopters and bulletproof vests, were worth nearly $124 million.”

    Copy machines? My God, they let the police use copy machines on citizens? This is outrageous!!

    I agree that the armored ambulance being used as a tank is ridiculous. That should have never been sold to the police. But, a lot of the stuff doesn’t necessarily mean that the police are out of control. I don’t find the police having night vision glasses particularly disturbing. The police do look for lost and injured people sometimes and night vision goggles would be useful. I don’t find it disturbing that the police have fatigues.

    Surplus weapons? That is certainly an issue, but what weapons? A typical police .40 glock is a better and more powerful handgun than the 9mm berretta the military uses. I would like to see a breakdown of what kind and how many weapons police are getting.

    This may be a real problem, but there is nothing in the quotes other than one police department getting an armored ambulance to show that it is a problem.

  6. The public’s so whipped into a frenzy over the WoD that being a pot smoker is now worse than being a terrorist (recall the commercial that linked pot and terrorist support) or – horror of horrors! – a liberal.

    It’s difficult to muster the courage to speak out in support of legalization/decriminilization if you’re going to be compared to pure evil itself, risk losing your job, your family, or the respect of your neighbors, and recognize that the gov deals with non-violent potential dealers and users with military-strength force.

  7. “The armored vehicles are used in standoffs and hostage situations.”

    How? What could they do other than escalate the situation and get the hostage killed? If it is a standoff, who cares how long the nut holds out? At some point he will get hungry and tired and come out looking for food. What possible reason could there be to run a tank through a building because lunatic would surrender to the cops?

  8. “I don’t find it disturbing that the police have fatigues.”

    see, i find that really disturbing. i mean, come on – camo? ninja-style get up? i think fatigues are for military. police are civilians. police shouldn’t give the impression of some occupying force or that they are of any different class of citizen as the rest of us. they wear pressed pants and shirts like us – just blue ones. (or ugly-ass brown on brown ensembles)

    if you wanna look like a navy seal – join the navy seals. and do lots of push ups.

  9. Or does the presense of firepower only encourage the police to be more aggressive, but somehow not citizens?

    Maybe you missed how many of these military style raids either completely missed the right house and/or resulted in the death or injury of a police officer, innocent citizen or non-violent offender.

    The point is that a lot of decidedly non-aggressive citizens are needlessly harmed by public servants supplied with military gear and told they’re fighting a war.

  10. I see your point downstater, but in the scheme of things, I find it a lot more disturbing that they have tanks.

  11. But assuming the police do on occasion need to raid buildings to arrest armed criminals, doesn’t it follow that the better armed they are, the less likely the situation is to turn bloody?

    I guess I just don’t quite see what Mr. Balko’s problem is here. If the military has equipment they don’t need anymore, the police seem like as good a group of people to recieve it as anybody. Plus the combined effort saves taxpayers money.

  12. But assuming the police do on occasion need to raid buildings to arrest armed criminals, doesn’t it follow that the better armed they are, the less likely the situation is to turn bloody?

    Again, haywood, you’re ignoring Balko’s point that these tactics are increasingly being used to arrest UNARMED criminals and serve warrant for NON-VIOLENT offenses.

  13. “But assuming the police do on occasion need to raid buildings to arrest armed criminals, doesn’t it follow that the better armed they are, the less likely the situation is to turn bloody?”

    Not necessarily. The problem is that the dumb bastards don’t identify themselves and are so trigger happy and poorly trained that they often shoot each other rather than the criminals. The issue is that they are going to make mistakes and raid the wrong place sometimes. Further, even if they raid the right place, they maybe innocent people there and using too much firepower may harm innocent people nearby. Yes, you can have too much firepower. But you are right though that the mere fact that they are getting military equipment isn’t necessarily bad.

  14. But you are right though that the mere fact that they are getting military equipment isn’t necessarily bad.

    I think the idea here is that having the military gear combined with framing the drug issue as a war has created a mentality where the primary protection of ordinary citizens is secondary to achieving military-styled objetives.

  15. Again, haywood, you’re ignoring Balko’s point that these tactics are increasingly being used to arrest UNARMED criminals and serve warrant for NON-VIOLENT offenses.

    That’s a valid concern, although it sounds like that’s a problem with tactics, not weaponry.

    Maybe raids occur where they’re not warranted. I don’t doubt that. But if you are going to perform a SWAT-style raid, especially when you can’t be totally sure how many weapons your targets are holding, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be as well-armed as possible.

  16. But assuming the police do on occasion need to raid buildings to arrest armed criminals, doesn’t it follow that the better armed they are, the less likely the situation is to turn bloody?

    Only if they are extremly well trained, and the raids are done sparingly. Having had the opportunity to see the “SWAT team” of a small suburb in action, they were commicly incompetent. A city like L.A. or New York can probably assemble a SWAT team and they will be pretty elite. But a city with 50 people total on their police force, and even Barney Fife makes the cut… except that in real life Barney Fife hillariously shoots the neighbors kids.

  17. “A city like L.A. or New York can probably assemble a SWAT team and they will be pretty elite.”

    I think you give big cities too much credit. Look at Atlanta. They broke into that woman’s house, she got off one round and four police ended up getting shot. That women either fired one hell of a round or they were so poorly trained and trigger happy that they were more of a danger to themselves than the subject of the raid was. Looking at that and other incidents in big cities, I think I might take my chances with the good old boys from the small town.

  18. Give police military equipment, train them in military tactics, and tell them they’re fighting a “war,” and it isn’t at all difficult to see how some officers would adopt the “win at all costs” mentality of a soldier, instead of the community servant mentality we expect of police officers.

    Collateral damage is always acceptable in times of war, so politicans and the police don’t really care that innocent people get harmed and killed in the “war” against drugs.

  19. Haywood – I think Mr. Balko agrees with you that heavy equipment is sometimes needed to confront armed and dangerous criminals, address hostage situations and the like. The problem is the police, either trying to justify the costs of equipment or training or just wanting to play with their new toys, start using battering rams and assault rifles when serving ordinary warrants for non-violent offenses. In those situations, the para-military police tactics escalate a relatively benign situation and put police and citizens both at increased risk for injury or death.

    You should check out Mr. Balko’s paper on the topic. It’s a quick read and gives more insight than this post. He’s not anti-cop or even anti-SWAT team. It’s just disturbing all of the people (and animals) that are hurt or killed unnecessarily because police used SWAT teams to serve warrants on non-violent offenders. It really cries out for reform. I don’t like the idea of the government killing people with painless and sterile lethal injection, so the idea of killing somebody who is trying to protect his home/family from intruders – who may not annouce themselves as police – is really horrible.

    I’m not going through the trouble of finding a link to his paper. It’s his web site, and I’m sure there’s already a link somewhere. Otherwise, somebody else can post it.

  20. That’s a valid concern, although it sounds like that’s a problem with tactics, not weaponry.

    Did you wake up today determined to be obtuse? This isn’t just about weaponry. Making assault gear widely available aches for a use. Combine that with poor training and a militarized mentality and you have just the sort of situations Balko point out.

  21. I think the very last paragraph in the article says it all:

    The Defense Department’s giveaway program started in 1990 to transfer surplus military parts to police for anti-drug and anti-terrorism work. Its mission was later broadened.

    Not too many credible homeland terrorism threats in 1990 but crack cocaine was the hot topic of the day.

    Mike, Haywood,
    Linky to Overkill by Balko here

  22. Or I could have realized that it was the first link at the top of the page.

  23. “The Defense Department’s giveaway program started in 1990 to transfer surplus military parts…”

    Kwix,

    Something else happened in 1989 that may have had something to do with creating a surplus.

  24. I agree with haywood that this is a problem of tactics and deployment and not weaponry. As about a staunch of a 2nd amendment guy as you’ll find, the inconsistency he points out seems perfectly valid.

    I don’t want cops going no knock and kicking in doors with handguns only, either. I just don’t happen to agree that things are worse if they have rifles. The militarization argument should be about strategy and targets of raids. This fixation on something that is really cosmetic weakens the argument from where I’m sitting.

  25. “He’s not anti-cop or even anti-SWAT team.”

    Let me be the first to say fuck just about every cop and SWAT jackboot I’ve ever met in the heart. Specifically the American species, as I’ve never seen more abusive cops than American cops in the more than 20 other countries I’ve lived, worked or travelled in. I can say this almost categorically.

    Maybe it has something to do with their mentality toward civilians, their general incompetence, and their insular mafia code of silence bullshit. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that they have consistently been rude and aggressive in just about every situation in which I have been unfortunate enough to make their acquaintance. Until some of these attitudes and “tactics” change, I will return the favor and do them all the same disrespect they’ve always done me. Oh, and I’m white and have never been convicted of a felony. I can’t even imagine what non-whites have to put up with.

    And yes, I feel better now.

  26. That such crap. When my county was forced to build a new county hospital they built it down the block from a state of the art hospital at March Air Force Base that sat empty collecting dust after March was closed by the Clintons because according to the county/Pentagon there were all sorts of legal hurdles to overcome before the feds could give the equipment to the county, which, incidentally, never happened.

    So, the lesson here is the feds have no problem giving surplus howitzers to the local fuzz but MRI equipment, operating theaters, and bedpans are off limits. Much better to let that stuff sit idle until it’s hopelessly outdated.

  27. I find it oddly indicative that from 1903-1996 the government had no problems selling surplus rifles to civilians under the auspices of the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

    But now, the only people the government feels they can give guns to are those on their trained gorilla squads.

  28. That such crap. When my county was forced to build a new county hospital they built it down the block from a state of the art hospital at March Air Force Base that sat empty collecting dust after March was closed by the Clintons because according to the county/Pentagon there were all sorts of legal hurdles to overcome before the feds could give the equipment to the county, which, incidentally, never happened.”

    Wine,

    The clintons were not lying. I can tell you from working on the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center that military instalations even hospitals cost billions to clean up before they can be turned over to the private sector. You can’t just give away the property. You have to make sure that it has been cleaned up to a very high standard before turning it over. I agree that is is insane for your country to have to build a new hospital when the military hospital would have worked fine, but that is what the environmental laws say. The problem is the laws.

  29. “The problem is the laws.”

    That’s funny, coming from a guy who claims to be a lawyer.

  30. That’s funny, coming from a guy who claims to be a lawyer.

    So…lawyers can’t have problems with ineffective or unjust laws?

    If anything, lawyers see upclose the result of poor laws, don’t you think? It’s tempting to think that lawyers don’t care or are programmed to game the system so it’s a moot point. But I know quite a few attorneys after writing for a business/legal publication and you’d be surprised how sensitive they can be on the topic.

    Just my observations, of course.

  31. de stijl,
    I am aware of that, but why not just mothball or scrap all of the cold war APVs, armoured vehicles, fully automatic rifles, flack jackets etc? The military has done a fair job of doling out the surplus to foriegn militaries but why local police forces? Was there a pressing need before hand? Were police forces running dry of funds to procure weapons? Were they running threadbare for uniforms? Why offer military items that were neither required nor even really needed or requested to a civilian police force? The fact is the government had excess and rather than just letting it sit around congress felt it would be a win-win to dole it out to the police to help round that final bend in the “war on drugs”.

  32. This fixation on something that is really cosmetic weakens the argument from where I’m sitting.

    What if the cosmetic aspects of having “tough guy” gear feeds into a certain mindset?

  33. I was distressed to read in my local paper that the founder of our parish swat team has been promoted to Chief of Operations at the sherriff’s office. Worst of all, the dude is an Ard. I always thought Ard meant disrespect authority in Scottish. I just hope I have time to yell my name out before he burns my house down.

    On a side note, a local elementary school has had to go on lockdown twice this week as the sherriffs and the border patrol agents chase illegal immigrants. Apparently we refuse to be a bedroom community for the rebuilders of New Orleans.

  34. I agree with haywood that this is a problem of tactics and deployment and not weaponry. As about a staunch of a 2nd amendment guy as you’ll find, the inconsistency he points out seems perfectly valid.

    I don’t want cops going no knock and kicking in doors with handguns only, either. I just don’t happen to agree that things are worse if they have rifles. The militarization argument should be about strategy and targets of raids. This fixation on something that is really cosmetic weakens the argument from where I’m sitting.

    I agree with you Jason but when the “police” force is given military weapons that the “civilian” population cannot possess and are trained that civilians are the enemy and that they are in a “win at any cost” war with that enemy, they all have a symbiotic role to play in the abuse of the populus. Police are not military but civilians and as such they should be subject to the same rules that we are, perhaps to higher standards.

  35. I agree with haywood that this is a problem of tactics and deployment and not weaponry. As about a staunch of a 2nd amendment guy as you’ll find, the inconsistency he points out seems perfectly valid.

    Thanks…really all I’m pointing out is that supposedly citizens can be armed to the teeth and it will not make them more prone to commit crimes but somehow give the police a more weapons and they’re going to go crazy…

  36. I agree that police should not have weapons civilians can’t, but that is not to say they should have fewer weapons per se.

    The WoD is a big part of the problem. The policies that allow deployment of a high threat officer contingent to non high threat situations are immoral.

    I know a lot of cops and a lot of SWAT guys. There good and bad in there, just like anything else. You just can’t have policies that permit the bad ones to cause real harm.

    I think the mindset thing is bad, but I’m not going to say a cop can’t have a rifle because of a mindset. If he can have a rifle, he can have a way to carry rifle magazines. Suddenly, he looks like a military freak. It is just a cosmetic outgrowth of saying that cops can have body armor and rifles in some situations.

  37. Let me be the first to say fuck just about every cop and SWAT jackboot I’ve ever met in the heart.

    I am not sure that I comprehend the exact meaning, but I think I get the gist.
    An attitude like this endears you to no one. I have known plenty o’cops, some of them SWAT members. Most of them were great people. I have met dickhead cops. I understand that they exist, but nearly all of them that I have known, and most of the ones that I have had to meet due to undesirable circumstances have been fine people. “Us against Them” = shit for everybody. It’s not a constructive attitude.

    I feel better now, too.

  38. Jason, I agree that policies are more of an issue than the weaponry but if a force is just given the weapons without any real need for use or plan of action for training, it seems to me that they are more prone to mis-use them. I think that the power of the law also plays a big role in the “god mentality” that some cops have. If a citizen invades a house and shoots the owner without provocation, he is up for murder charges. When the police do so, they are lucky if they get two weeks suspension with pay. Most people would call that a vacation. As for weapons imbalances, last I checked, citizens weren’t allowed to own fully automatic M16s, grenade launchers or tanks but the police seem to be able to request and recieve these without even paying for them. Breeds a hell of a reason to request what you don’t need just to have I think.

    Here is a PBS transcript from 1997 that scruitizes the role of SWAT teams and thier increasing use. Here is a great little article on surplus buildup from the SP Times circa 2003 and how things have not slowed down one bit.

  39. Kwix makes an excellent point. The feds may be giving all this gear away, but there’s no training coming with the gear.

    Most cops are abysmally bad shots.

  40. a further blurring of the important line

    Blurring important lines is always good. It disempowers the line lobby.

  41. Amendment III:nbsp&”No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    Hmmmm? Annual Police budget: $1,000,000; Used Equipment from the D.O.D.: $250,000; Breaking down doors of “innocent” civilians (said with a sneer): PRICELESS

    What we need, but not likely to get, is a SCOTUS with the balls to inforce the Constitution, in all its parts, equally. If a departement recieves funding (and any loan, gift, or transfer of materials with usable value is a form of funding) becomes a tacit part of the US military.

  42. “””I think you give big cities too much credit. Look at Atlanta. They broke into that woman’s house, she got off one round and four police ended up getting shot. That women either fired one hell of a round or they were so poorly trained and trigger happy that they were more of a danger to themselves than the subject of the raid was. Looking at that and other incidents in big cities, I think I might take my chances with the good old boys from the small town.””””

    I thought grandma had a shotgun? No?

    Soon they will get quality surplus from Iraq.
    No sir that’s not a hole in that tank. That’s a wide-bore surveilence port.

  43. highnumber

    Thanks for your 5:09 post.

    BTW One of my best friends is a cop. 😉

  44. JOHN submits: I agree that the armored ambulance being used as a tank is ridiculous. That should have never been sold to the police.

    SH: Not sold. Given.

  45. Most cops are abysmally bad shots.

    Know an LA County Sheriff who responded to a robbery in progress at a liquor store in Gardena. He jumped out as the bad guy came running out the front door. Both he and the bad guy emptied their guns at each other. And missed. Meanwhile his partner is cowering on the floor of the squad car as bullets are flying everywhere. He’s pissed because she didn’t take the bad guy out with the shotgun but he can’t believe how lucky he is.

  46. High & Areson, I’ve known a lot of cops in my day and heard some stories that would make you worried. I also know they aren’t all bad and at the end of the day they go home to their families like the rest of us do. I’ve laughed with them and drank with them. Some of those stories are pretty funny. And some are pretty wrong. But still funny.

    At the same time I can understand the hostility. As a yoot I was continually jacked around by the cops, nothing much ever came of it except that I had dope planted on me once–oh wait, that was by the Secret Service. And it was a San Clemente police officer that talked them out of busting me on a bad beef, so I guess I owe them on that.

    I’m personally aware of a lot of bad stuff that cops have gotten away with. I also had a friend who left LAPD after IAD disciplined him for excessive force that was undeserved. I know of another guy (friend of a friend) who was shot dead during a routine traffic stop. And yes, I even know a libertarian cop, although she’s not in the business any more.

    Put it this way, I’m wary but polite. I’ve also learned that cops don’t necessarily value liberty any more than the next guy. And I think that cops foster the us v them attitude to a much greater extent than John Q does.

    And none of them are old enough to shave much less carry a gun. 🙂

  47. John, I know the Clinton’s aren’t lying but why is it so much easier to give away guns than MRI’s. I know, the law. But why?

  48. TWC,

    Cops come in good and bad flavors just like everyone else.
    Most people are good, most cops are good. Even when you talk about cops getting away with bad shit, once you have met some good cops, guys who really are willing to put it all on the line to protect strangers, you kind of brush off the bad shit. I don’t mean that you can excuse it or ignore it, I mean that knowing that there are Serpicos out there means that you can’t write them off as a whole ever again. Bad cops are inexcusable (although, corrupt and bad aren’t always the same thing). As far as the us v. them mentality, cops have better reasons for that than we do, but it is a hindrance for them, too, even if they don’t always understand that.

    Aresen,

    I read that statement about “fuck cops in their hearts,” or whatever pinko wrote, and I thought of my grandfather, my uncle, my wife’s uncles, the guy who was like a older brother to me when I was kid, and all the cops I’ve known over the years. I couldn’t let it go. Dehumanizing or demonizing your perceived enemy plays a nasty trick on you. You end up being less than human yourself.
    Anyway, tell your BFF “thank you.”

  49. “Thanks…really all I’m pointing out is that supposedly citizens can be armed to the teeth and it will not make them more prone to commit crimes but somehow give the police a more weapons and they’re going to go crazy…”

    presuming both had similar social roles, you might have a point.

    and the lack of any link between gun ownership and societal violence is obviously illustrated. (beyond mr. lott’s heavily contested work in this area, obviously)

  50. So, it is just the cool looking guns you hate?

  51. “So, it is just the cool looking guns you hate?”

    whut?

  52. dhex,

    Guess what? Every comment made is not in response to what you have written. These days I generally ignore you, but made an exception due to the boredom of working 10 PM – 6 AM. Try looking at what Radley Balko wrote and see if my response might have something to do with that.

  53. You know, the founding fathers didn’t like the idea of a standing army because they were convinced a standing army would do one of two things (and probably both): It would create reasons for engaging in wars abroad and it would be used on it’s own citizens at home. We know the first thing has happened and now…

    Even though the army itself is not patrolling our streets it is directly contributing to a militarized police force – which is nothing more than an army patrolling our streets under another name.

    Wise bunch of guys, those founding fathers.

  54. The solution is simple,
    Not allow the police to have anything that citizens cannot have, and hold their powers to the constitution.

  55. mediageek

    I find it oddly indicative that from 1903-1996 the government had no problems selling surplus rifles to civilians under the auspices of the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

    “The Civilian Marksmanship Program” still exists, it has been privatized, which to my mind is a good thing. Currently they are offering the last of the Springfields and M1 Garands.

    Notably absent are surplus M14s which are slated for destruction in the near future if they have not already been. More pure vandalism in the name of “gun control”.

  56. “Guess what? Every comment made is not in response to what you have written. These days I generally ignore you, but made an exception due to the boredom of working 10 PM – 6 AM.”

    protip: starting your message with the name of the intended recipient is a useful way to keep the asynchronous traffic tie-ups of blog comments clear of confusion.

    i.e.

    guy: well, i’ll keep that in mind when i’m hiding in a jar of blueberry jam for my hidden liberal expose on how conservative men eat toast.

  57. Isaac-

    Yes, the CMP has been privatized, but that was just a compromise between the hardcore anti-2nd amendment bigots and the more rational sorts. IIRC, at the time, they called for not only scrapping the CMP, but all of the stores of surplus rifles as well.

    I am also told by some of the older guys I shoot with that the CMP used to sell surplus pistols, but a stop was put to that sometime before I was born.

    It’s really ridiculous that they don’t sell off the surplus M14’s and M16’s to the populace. I wouldn’t even have a problem with them requiring that the rifles have full-auto or burst capabilities deactivated.

  58. “Know an LA County Sheriff who responded to a robbery in progress at a liquor store in Gardena. He jumped out as the bad guy came running out the front door. Both he and the bad guy emptied their guns at each other. And missed. Meanwhile his partner is cowering on the floor of the squad car as bullets are flying everywhere. He’s pissed because she didn’t take the bad guy out with the shotgun but he can’t believe how lucky he is.”

    And yet the anti-gun movement has continuously claimed that only military and police are the only ones who should be trusted with firearms.

  59. But assuming the police do on occasion need to raid buildings to arrest armed criminals, doesn’t it follow that the better armed they are, the less likely the situation is to turn bloody?

    The better armed they are for the task at hand.

    I would argue that at short range (anywhere inside any building other than a warehouse, etc.) a shotgun will be a better choice than a full-auto rifle. In open country where I live LEOs need semiauto rifles, but not full-auto. Few departments need armored vehicles, particularly equipped with heavy machineguns.

    Or does the presense of firepower only encourage the police to be more aggressive, but somehow not citizens?

    1. Police are citizens, even if they tend to forget it. They are also “civilians.”

    2. The presence of (legal) firepower has little effect, since legal gunowners and law enforcement officers are by definition not criminals.

    3. The difference is in the results of using the firepower. If I shoot someone, even in self-defense, I will likely be arrested, the police will do the whole CSI thing on the situation, and unless the shooting is justified under Texas law I will go to jail. Even if the shooting is completely justified the person I shoot or the next of kin will probably sue me in civil court. Even if I win I’ll be out several thousand dollars in attorney fees, despite the legal services contract I pay for that covers all the criminal lawyer bills through the grand jury process.

    In too many of Balko’s cited cases the LEOs who shoot innocent people by mistake and their departments say, “Oops, collateral damage,” and move on to the next raid.

  60. Did they send them any common sense perhaps? Or what about some training manuals on how to actually investigate a situation before going in guns blazing. I think its called recon when at war. You know it helps to make sure that your guys are going in to a situation that it truly in need of help or not. It also makes sure you don’t send your people in to a place where they are out numbered. If our military was as quick to enter civilian peoples homes in actual wars with other countries as our local cops are with our citizens the news would be all over it and outraged.

    So far I have seen more outrage over panties on a war detainees head than I have over the 80 year old grandmother in Atlanta. As for me I will take the panties on the head everytime!

  61. “I also know they aren’t all bad and at the end of the day they go home to their families like the rest of us do. I’ve laughed with them and drank with them.”

    No all cops are not bad we know that. Yes cops have families we know that too. Cops can laugh yep seen it myself. Cops Drink? As in liquor?

    So are you saying all cops that drink are alcoholics?

    My question to these cops who justify their tactics would be simple. You and your family are in bed, its 3am and you hear your door being kicked in. Do you shoot first and ask questions later or do you walk out of your bedroom and say hey whats going on in here?

    I can almost guarantee you what their reaction/response to such a situation would be. They would shoot first everytime. WHY THEN do they not expect the same from any other human being in the exact same situation? Should they really be that surprised if someone comes out shooting after being waken from their sleep with a no knock raid? How hard is it to stop and think hmmmmmmmm if someone did this to me how might I react?

    This is whats totally overlooked in these tactics. This is why Radley says even if they have the right house and criminals are inside its a sure fire way to escalate a situation to deadly endings from the very start simply because of the approach used to apprehend.

    All of you that know cops ask them this question if you don’t already know the answer. Seeing how many will kick in other peoples doors on an informants tip alone and shoot the homeowner 1st and figure out the details later I think I am safe in my guess that 0% would come out and scratch their nuts as they yawn asking whats up!

    As for my comment about them being alcoholics I only say that because according to their own propaganda it is impossible to be a user of any illegal drug and not be a drug addict. As such its only logical that anyone who drinks alcohol even in moderation is also an alcoholic. Thats the WoD peoples logic, not mine.

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