Militarization of Police

Ban Military Gear to Cops, Say NH Lawmakers

Concord's police chief once named Free Staters as a target for his department's up-armored might.

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Militarized police
LiveLeak screen capture

After a year in which Americans were treated to the sight of camouflaged cops brandishing automatic weapons and riding armored vehicles as they stared down protesters, some New Hampshire legislators have had enough. Led by Rep. JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton), they've reintroduced a bill "prohibiting the state and political subdivisions from acquiring military-equipped vehicles or equipment which are not readily available in an open national commercial market."

Hoell, a New Hampshire delegate for Ron Paul's last presidential run, made a previous try at this issue after Concord used a federal grant to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle. That was the infamous incident in which Free Staters were called out by Concord Police Chief John Duval as potential targets of the police department's new might.

Despite the local fuss, the bill never gained traction.

"At the end of the day, we have a law enforcement agency that is more militarized than we intended," Hoell told a sparsely attended hearing on his bill.

But that was before Ferguson and a year of revelations about just how many military-style goodies were channeled to police departments around the country by the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. They included rifles, armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and body armor, along with more benign supplies.

Last year, the Concord Monitor reported, "Beyond BearCats, Hoell said the bill includes any fully automatic firearms that can't be bought on the commercial market."

Presumably, this year's reintroduced measure, which has drawn bipartisan support, would do the same. The text reads:

Except as provided in paragraph I [which makes an exemption for the state guard] , no state agency or political subdivision of this state shall acquire, purchase, or otherwise accept for use any military-equipped vehicle or military grade hardware, including but not limited to armored personnel carriers, Title II weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles, or unmanned ground vehicles, unless such military grade vehicle or hardware is readily available in an open national commercial market. The adjutant general shall notify the state attorney general of a violation of this paragraph. Any military-equipped vehicle or military grade hardware acquired in violation hereof shall be forfeited.

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  1. Live free or die!

    1. Die free or live!

      1. Free liver to die for!

        1. *slow clap in a now-dead thread*

          +1 pedestrian nice chianti

    1. My father’s suburban was stolen and the cops spotted them driving it and new it was stolen because they weren’t my dad (small town).

      The cops chased the suburban and the thieves slowed down, jumped out and ran away. The suburban crashed into the light pole before stopping.

      The city tried to bill him for repairing the light pole. Since the old guy was a retired probation officer and knew everyone down at city hall, he was able to dodge the financial bullet, but the fact that they even sent the bill in the first place is some pretty good derp.

      1. knew, not new. Sheesh! My Memphis State education is showing.

      2. Something like that happens all the time, because they expect the insurance company to pick up the tab.
        What, you’ve never heard of a friend, or relative filing suit in a traffic accident, because that is how they can get the money for medical treatment out of an insurance company? Same thing.

  2. “Beyond BearCats, Hoell said the bill includes any fully automatic firearms that can’t be bought on the commercial market.”

    That hardly seems fair!

  3. If BearCats are outlawed, only outlaws will have BearCats.

    1. At first I thought you said Bear Claws. I almost started to panic.

      1. Wait – WTF? Texas?

        1. Reason’s favorite family has been there for some time, KK. Also, expecting their third child.

          1. All this telework has gotten me totally out of the loop! Was wondering what happened to all the happy hours.

    2. Well, nukular weapons are outlawed, and I only Russian outlaws named Putin have them.

  4. That was the infamous incident in which Free Staters were called out by Concord Police Chief John Duval as potential targets of the police department’s new might.

    You know who else invented an enemy to arm himself against?

    1. The Jews?

    2. Don Quixote?

      1. +1 Sancho Panza

    3. The Umbrella Corporation?

  5. Any military-equipped vehicle or military grade hardware acquired in violation hereof shall be forfeited.

    “Of course, we can still keep the stuff we acquire prior to actual implementation.”

  6. Hoell said the bill includes any fully automatic firearms that can’t be bought on the commercial market.

    Other than the federal giveaways, agencies are already buying their auto weapons on the commercial market.

    1. Well, this says “open national commercial market”. Maybe that means only items available to civilians? I honestly don’t know.

      1. That is how I read it.

      2. Shame its drafted like crap.

      3. So maybe repeal the 1986 law against automatic rifles. Then the plebs and police could have them.

  7. This is a bullshit proposal. What he needs to do is ban taxpayer-funded purchase of mil-spec gear for police officers. Those guys have every right to own it and use it while they’re st work…the same as I have the right to don it as I see fit.

    What he needs to propose is that it be legal for everybody the same, regardless of whether or not they are employed as an agent of the state. And if those guys want it, let them have a bake sale and go to the same auction I am allowed to attend where the military surplus is to be sold.

  8. I think Libertarians are not playing this issue quite right. When you talk about the “militarization of police”, the problem is the police acting like the military and using military tactics. The problem isn’t the toys. The stuff is just the stuff. It is what the police do with it that is the problem. If on my way home tonight the police for whatever reason decide to kill me, it will be just as big of a crime whether they beat me to death with knight sticks or run me over with a tank. It is the behavior that is the problem not the equipment.

    For sure, giving police tanks and machine guns is a waste of tax money. And it should be portrayed that way. It should not, however, be portrayed as de facto proof of police abusing the public. The proof of police abusing the public is found in the police abusing the public. In fact, since these weapons are generally useless in law enforcement, nearly all of the cases of police abuse I see don’t involve them. Other than flash grenades, the weapon of choice for the murderous or abusive cop seems to be his service revolve, his taser or his knight stick or fists.

    1. Think of it this way. I and the rest of the people on this board wouldn’t give a fuck if you told us that some farmer in New Hampshire had a tank or a machine gun. So, why should we care that some police department does? It is not like having those things are necessary for them to do harm. I don’t care if my neighbor has a machine gun. I care if my neighbor wants to shoot me. It is the same here. I don’t care if the clowns want generally useless and expensive toys, provided that I am not paying for them. I care if they want to harm people by whatever means.

      1. So, why should we care that some police department does?

        Because police departments use them, routinely, against the citizenry they are supposed to serve and protect?

        Because police departments are (legally) essentially unaccountable for their use of equipment?

        Because my neighbor having military gear doesn’t facilitate a culture of opposition and aggression in a government agency?

        I agree, the fundamental problem is culture. But the gear feeds the culture in non-trivial ways. Plus, the gear is visible, and we all know most people can only respond to the seen, not the unseen.

        1. Because police departments use them, routinely, against the citizenry they are supposed to serve and protect?

          The problem there is the use, not the weapon. If the police department is out to terrorize the public, taking away their tank isn’t going to stop them.

          Again, the tank is just an object. The problem isn’t the tank, it is the police. People use guns to commit murder. Should we take those away? Of course not, because the problem is the people not the guns.

          It is the same thing here. If you are angry that the police are terrorizing its citizens, the solution is to stop them from doing that. Focusing on their toys just changes the means but not the result and does nothing to solve the problem.

          1. I agree that the focus should be on police culture, not the toys. However that discussion is a political impossibility. I was thinking the other day how people think of their cops the same way they think about their Congresscritter. It’s always the other ones that are the bad ones. My Congresscritters are OK, it’s the ones from California that suck. My cops are OK, it’s the ones in NYC that suck. Until that discussion can be had, taking away some of their more dangerous toys is the best option on the table.

            1. It is impossible or close to. I am at a loss how you solve that. And I am all for taking this shit back. But we have to be careful. If you focus too much on the equipment, you start to sound like gun controllers thinking that the object somehow makes the person. The other problem is that focusing on these weapons as a civil rights issue, make it very easy for cops and their defenders to portray their critics as just a bunch of anti-government paranoid nuts.

              There is a fine line between asking why the hell we are giving cops machine guns and tanks and the infowars “Obama and DHS are preparing for martial law” kookery. And cops and their defenders are very adept at characterizing all criticism of cops as the latter.

              1. I’ve tried to have this conversation with my conservative wife, and it goes the same way as conversations about the drug war.
                I say there’s a problem with cop culture, she hears me saying there should be no cops.
                I say prohibition creates more problems than the drugs, she hears me saying everyone should use drugs.
                I don’t know how to get past that mentality.

                1. Sarcasmic,

                  I blame TV mostly. Someone like your wife just has no idea what is actually going on. And TV and the media do everything they can to ensure she and others like her don’t find out. It is appalling.

                  The other thing is, though I don’t know your wife so this may not apply to her, is that most people don’t care about injustice until it happens to them. People who don’t live in poor areas and are not subjected to police abuse generally just don’t care that others are. Sad, but it is just human nature.

                  I always think of the writer Heather McDonald defending stop and frisk. She lives in New York, but as a middle aged respectable white women, she will never subject to it. I would love to catch her speaking at a forum and ask her if it would be okay if I frisked her. When her face went white in shock and she said no, I would then ask her why it is such a big deal and I can’t do it. There are witnesses. I won’t harm her. Why should she be bothered by it? She doesn’t think minorities in New York should have a problem with being groped by a complete stranger. Why should she?

                  I would give anything to see the back tracking and yeah buts that would ensue.

                  1. I blame the media, mostly. Someone, like the posters on Reason, have no idea what is actually going on.
                    Sarcasmic, when you talk about problems with “cop culture”, you ARE arguing for no cops. This “cop culture” you speak of has evolved from decades of having to deal with the type of person you could only imagine. It is how they protect themselves, for the most part, and, that the average citizen doesn’t understand that there may be times when a little discomfort is pointed their way, doesn’t take away the fact that, in general, what cops do makes sense from an ordered society point of view – otherwise, we will end up with no cops.
                    As for John’s example of Heather McDonald’s defense of “stop and frisk”, of course she wouldn’t approve of a random pervert offering to frisk her, but I’ll guarantee, if it happened by a uniformed, identified law-enforcement officer, she would be just fine with it.

          2. The problem there is the use, not the weapon.

            I agree, which is why I said:

            But the gear feeds the culture in non-trivial ways.

            1. But the gear feeds the culture in non-trivial ways.

              You have the causality backwards. The culture feeds the gear. They want the gear because of the culture. Even if they don’t get the gear, the culture will still be there.

              You are engaging in animism here. The culture is a product of the actions and attitudes of the people. It doesn’t really depend on the objects. To the extent it does, a military mentality and culture doesn’t need a tank. It needs a uniform and an ethos. Its the ethos and the environment that shapes people. The gear is just an expression of what is already there. Giving a department a tank isn’t going to make it more militarized or make it militarized if it wasn’t already.

              1. Not entirely correct. It’s more of a feedback loop. There is clear evidence that the direction of thinking in humans is affected by both the symbolism of objects in their environment, even if scarcely noticed, as well as the symbolism of the objects which they wrap themselves in. When a police officer outfits himself in quasi-military gear it introduces and/or reinforces a certain mentality. It’s a bit of a chicken-egg question at this point, but they are both problems and both need to be address to achieve meaningful change in the circumstances that presently obtain in American police culture.

                1. Sure there is a feedback loop. But that feedback loop doesn’t depend on one object. If it is going on, it will continue whether they get the tank or not. Taking back the tank isn’t going to stop it.

                  Think of it this way, the most elite military units in the world are generally light infantry units. They don’t really have big toys. All you need for a military ethos is a uniform and a weapon and a group of people willing to buy in. I could take a Ranger company and give them all .22 revolvers and knight sticks and they would still have their military ethos. At the same time, I could take a group of corporate lawyers and let them drive around in an MRAP and they are not going to have a military ethos.

          3. The problem there is the use, not the weapon.

            I just caught this. The problem isn’t the use…or the weapon. People have uses for those weapons. Sometimes cops do.

            The problem is the absolute lack of accountability to the same standards that “civilians” are held to when the weapon is misused or abused either in the “line of duty” or while off-duty. That is the underlying problem with all government in America. And this guy’s solution is misguided because all it does is take a tool away…a tool that could be misused or abused but will now merely me replaced by another tool…that will be misused or abused…with zero change in the consequences for the misuse or abuse.

            This is akin to banning Bucky Balls rather than prosecuting people who shove them down the throat of their children.

            1. The problem is the absolute lack of accountability to the same standards that “civilians” are held to when the weapon is misused or abused either in the “line of duty” or while off-duty.

              You are absolutely right. That is the problem. Taking back the tank, however, isn’t going to solve that problem. Moreover, it isn’t even going to help, because will still have the authority and the ability to all kinds of harm. Take away the military gear and they will still be out doing exactly the same thing they are today.

      2. If the farmer with a tank threatens someone with it, he will go to jail. Cops won’t.

        I see your point and largely agree. But the police wouldn’t be interested in getting the military gear if not for the culture and aggressive attitude toward the public. The gear doesn’t cause abuse, but I think it does contribute to and reenforce the bad police culture that is the real base problem.

        1. The problem Zeb is that you don’t trust the cops with a tank. I understand that. That is reasonable. But, the reason why you don’t trust them with a tank is because you don’t trust them period. If you trusted the cop lie you do the farmer, you wouldn’t care if they had a tank. While getting rid of the tank maybe good for other reasons, getting rid of it isn’t going to cause you to trust the cops anymore. And even without the tank, they will still have plenty of other weapons and power they can’t be trusted with.

          The problem is not the tank. The problem is you can’t trust the cops.

          1. You are certainly right that I don’t trust them with or without a tank. And about the real fundamental problem.

            Preventing them from getting military gear isn’t going to fix the police. But it’s still a good idea.

            1. Yes Zeb it is. But it is a good idea for reasons that really don’t have anything to do with the abusive behavior of cops. It is a good idea because giving them these weapons is a waste of money, they are not useful to law enforcement, and having so many of these weapons spread around the country creates a real security issue.

              We worry about a Mumbai style terrorist attack, well let some terrorists get lose in an MRAP and see how that goes. Considering that possibility, giving hundreds of MRAPS to police departments all over America sounds like a really stupid idea to me. Do you trust these departments to properly secure this equipment? I don’t.

      3. So I can have a tank but not body armor?

    2. It’s hard(er) to play soldier as a cop when your department doesn’t have a tank…

      1. No its not. All you need is a weapon and the will to use it, to play solider. You don’t need a tank to beat someone to death or kick down someone’s a door and run like congress of angry apes.

        The weapon is an inanimate object. Possessing it doesn’t change you. If these cops are abusive, taking away their tanks and machine guns isn’t going to help.

        1. If these cops are abusive, taking away their tanks and machine guns isn’t going to help.

          I understand your point, however they can do a lot more damage with those military toys than without.

          1. Not really. It is not like the method of police abuse is to just mow down people. If it were, then you would be right. But they are a bit more subtle than that. Generally these things are just toys and are useless to the jobs they do. Other than flash grenades, which because they are misused should be banned, I can’t think of a case where these weapons resulted in any increase in police abuse.

            The problem is cops shooting people at the first hint of danger. The problem is cops shooting anyone who fails to give their “respect”. The problem is cops beating people to death. The problem is cops breaking into homes and fucking up and shooting someone.

            In all of those cases, the kind of weapon they have really doesn’t matter. If a cop kicks in your door and shoots you because he thought your remote control was a gun, he is still going to shoot you and you are still going to be dead whether he is carrying a .40 service pistol a surplus M16A2.

            1. Like I said, I understand your point.
              However cops aren’t going to ram a cruiser into a home, which they have done with their armored vehicles.

              1. However cops aren’t going to ram a cruiser into a home, which they have done with their armored vehicles.

                If you took away the tank, they might. But again, the problem is them ramming anything into someone’s home. It is the behavior not the means.

                1. If you took away the tank, they might.

                  Doubt it. They don’t like to wreck their vehicles. However driving a tank into a home is quite the adrenaline rush.

            2. The thing is, John, when people have a cool tool, they start to look for uses for it. Having an armored vehicle around is going to get them thinking about how they could use it.

              1. maybe Zeb. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. Mostly these things sit unused. But even if they do, the problem is the use not the object. Moreover, if they are using the tank in an abusive way, chances are that they are using it to do abusive things they were doing anyway. So, instead of kicking down the door, they ram it with a tank. Taking away the tank doesn’t solve the problem.

                1. To me, the bigger problem is how these vehicles allow the police to present themselves. And, from what I have seen, they do like to get them out, even if it’s just to be in a parade or appear at a large public event. I’ve seen it done by at least two cities in NH already.
                  It reenforces the perception of the police, both to the police themselves and to the public, as a special warrior class rather than members of the community who happen to have a particular job.

        2. Possessing it doesn’t change you.

          It changes the perception of them though. And it also changes their ability to wreak havoc over a larger number of people at a given time. Sure, six cops can club you to death. But six cops in an APC with a .50 cal mounted on top can cut down hundred people in a matter of seconds.

          In this respect, possession offers opportunity that otherwise would not exist on the same scale.

          1. possession offers opportunity that otherwise would not exist on the same scale.

            Exactly.

          2. But six cops in an APC with a .50 cal mounted on top can cut down hundred people in a matter of seconds.

            Sure. But that has never happened and I see no reason to think it will. Moreover, six cops armed with semi automatic rifles or pistols could mow a lot of people down too. I am not seeing how “they only killed 20 not 100” makes much difference. IF we ever get to a point where police are firing indiscriminately into crowds, it will be just as big of a problem no matter what weapon they are using.

            What is happening is six cops are beating you to death or pumping 40 rounds of pistol ammunition in you while the M16 sits back at the station.

            There are good reasons not to give cops these things. It is a waste of money. The equipment is generally useless to their jobs. It does create a bad perception as you say. And something that should be shoved in the faces of every gun grabbing cop lover, there are real security issues here. I don’t want some yahoos in a New Hampshire police department to have military weapons more than anything because I don’t trust them to properly secure the weapons and keeping them from being stolen and falling into the wrong hands. But all of those objections are different from the problem of police abuse.

            1. You make some good points, but a big part of the problem is with perception. That is to say the overt threat implied when police departments break out their milsurp toys and intimidate the shit out of John Q. Public. It’s psyops as much as anything else that is the problem with this trend.

              1. The perception is a real issue. On the other hand, I am not sure that 20 cops with M16s and a tank is that much more intimidating than 20 cops in riot gear armed with shotguns. I don’t want any part of either group.

                The interesting thing about this is that cops really are less trigger happy than they used to be. Back in the teens and twenties, they would stop riots by just mowing people down. Police departments had fully automatic Thompsons and were willing to use them.

                You hear about these race riots in the South back in the day and see the appalling death tolls. Most of those deaths were at the hands of police.

                1. The interesting thing about this is that cops really are less trigger happy than they used to be. Back in the teens and twenties, they would stop riots by just mowing people down.

                  Let’s compare their mindset to 20, 30 or 40 years ago. By my reckoning, I’d say they’re much more trigger happy today that at any time. I’d also blame it on their union protections.

                  In the teens and 20’s, you had a serious lack of media coverage or the proliferation of guerrilla coverage when a cop does something bad. That exists today and cops are STILL acting with virtual impunity.

                  I’m also curious as to the ratio of “civilians” shot is compared to what it was in the teens and 20’s. My guess is that its still higher now.

                  1. Let’s compare their mindset to 20, 30 or 40 years ago. By my reckoning, I’d say they’re much more trigger happy today that at any time. I’d also blame it on their union protections.

                    Maybe more so than they were fifty years ago, but not 80. Go back and look at how police handled riots in the 20s or at the turn of the century. They just started shooting people on sight. Police in the 20s would have never tolerated something like the Ferguson riots. They would declared a dawn to dusk curfew and shot anyone out on sight.

                    1. I don’t care how they abused the common citizenry 95 years ago. I care how they’re abusing it now.

                      This “relative abuse” argument doesn’t solve the problem of today’s abuse. And that’s what we’re trying to get at.

                      Lastly, “They would declared a dawn to dusk curfew and shot anyone out on sight.

                      Sounds like New Orleans post-Katrina.

            2. It hasn’t happened because the people confronted by the tank have always scattered.

              Which means the chilling effect they’re going for has worked.

              1. Sloopy,

                You would be or should be just as scared confronting a line of police armed with shotguns.

                You don’t need a tank or a automatic weapon to intimidate a crowd.

                1. As a former military officer, John, you know that’s just not true. You know that facing down mobile infantry is a lot tougher than a dozen foot soldiers.

                  1. As a former military officer, John, you know that’s just not true. You know that facing down mobile infantry is a lot tougher than a dozen foot soldiers.

                    Not if I am unarmed. If I am unarmed, a shotgun or a pistol is just as dangerous and will kill me just as dead as a machine gun. You are a nut if you are not intimidated by a line of cops armed with shotguns. Fearing for your life is fearing for your life. At some point the extra firepower doesn’t matter.

                    1. Maybe at short range, 50m or so, but, personally, I can hit out to about 600m with a 240B. There is a definite difference in effectiveness between those two weapon classes which is why we don’t equip soldiers with pistols and shotguns as their main armaments.

                    2. Maybe at short range, 50m or so, but, personally, I can hit out to about 600m with a 240B.

                      Sure but riots don’t happen at long range. They happen at short range. When a line of cops sweeps down a street to disperse a crowd, they don’t need .50 caliber machine guns to do it.

                    3. Again, it’s about perception and symbolism, to the police and the citizens they are intimidating. I agree with basically everything you have pointed out here, but think that you are overlooking the problems of police oversight when the average citizen becomes fearful of expressing discontent. The police do that in myriad ways, and equipment displays are not the greatest of them, but it is part of the equation, and the one that would be easiest to undo.

                2. If you are being completely rational, sure. But that’s not how people are. A big fucking monster truck is intimidating and the police know and use that fact.
                  A line of cops in black with riot shields and shotguns is intimidating too. And using that to intimidate when it isn’t absolutely necessary is a bad thing and should be criticized too.

          3. Possessing it doesn’t change you.

            We’re talking about a culture, here. I think that, when an organization which fits itself out in military gear, its more likely they will act like they are at war.

            If an individual has a gun, it doesn’t change them. When an organization issues guns to its members to use in their jobs, it changes the organization and, by extension, the members because they are part of the organization.

            1. We’re talking about a culture, here. I think that, when an organization which fits itself out in military gear, its more likely they will act like they are at war.

              No. The causality goes the other way. They want the gear because they think they are in a war. Not giving them the gear wont’ change the culture. Like i said above, I could take a company of Rangers and arm them with .22 revolvers and they would still have a military ethos. The people make the ethos not the gear.

    3. Execelent point considering I’v yet to see video of cops running people over, they normally just shoot them or beat the shit out of them, that being said when a police force aquiers an MRAP they are by contract required to use the vehicle within one year or return it and of course they will use it for the most minor of violations thus escalating any event from the norm and also going on the record of “see we need this equipment”

      1. There is one comforting thing about all of this. Something like an MRAP takes maintenance. You don’t just park it for yeas and then use it. I seriously doubt these departs have either the know how or the money maintain most of this equipment. It is within a few years going to end up as mostly yard art.

        1. They’re creating jobs when they hire people to maintain these vehicles! Why don’t you want to create jobs?!?

        2. Well the military usually provides them free access to parts. But you are right, because I am sure that no PD can match a military 3M program. And they still have to pay for operators and maintainers to go to school, which is not cheap.

  9. I have no issue with some if the more innocuous stuff but full auto in the hands of domestic law enforcement is a horrible idea. And why does every little problem seem to require a swat team level response?

    1. You try having 4 monsters and nothing to do.

    2. Why is it a bad idea? I think they have just as much right to it as you or I do…which I believe is absolutely our right. What I don’t think they have a right to is using my money to pay for it.

      1. When we have that right recognized by law, then they can too.

        1. I think a rule that all civilians can have whatever weapons the police can have would be a good rule. And very unlikely as long as the police maintain so much political influence.

        2. When we have that right recognized by law, then they can too.

          Agreed.

      2. As individuals they have the same right as everyone. I don’t see a problem with a law forbidding them from using full-autos, though. Is it not an employers right to allow or forbid an employee to carry certain weapons while working?

    3. And why does every little problem seem to require a swat team level response?

      Adrenaline junkies need their fix.

      1. Exactly. But getting rid of military weapons won’t fix that. They will just be doing it with regular rifles and shotguns. It will still be just as bad.

  10. I think they have just as much right to it as you or I do

    As citizens, certainly. I would have no objection to any cop personally owning weapons that I am allowed to own.

    But that’s not what we’re talking about, on any point. We’re talking about PDs acquiring weapons that I am not allowed to own.

    1. But that’s not what we’re talking about, on any point. We’re talking about PDs acquiring weapons that I am not allowed to own.

      So what? That just means you maybe should be allowed to own them. Again, there is nothing special about the object. If the police are not abusive, they could have howitzers and it would only be a waste of money. And if they are abusive, they could be armed with clubs and it would still be a problem.

      1. That just means you maybe should be allowed to own them.

        I agree, but I can’t. So what’s your point?

        1. My point is, if you should be allowed them, the problem is you not having them not that cops do. Again, the problem is the cop not the weapon.

  11. I’m ok with cops having these weapons. I’m likewise ok with my neighbors having them. In fact, I believe all military surplus should be sold at auction to the highest bidder and the proceeds used to pay down the national debt.

    What I am not ok with is the theft of my income to be given to the police departments so they can buy weapons/tools of any kind. They want them, they can buy them themselves or hold a bake sale.

    1. Yeah, I think the better point to make is that police departments are way overfunded. When they have to start counting bullets and asking politely for more money, I’ll believe they’ve been reigned in.

      This military equipment crap is just a sideshow.

  12. Oh, so THAT’S what’s causing the thin scheming sound I’ve been hearing, drifting down from the North?.

  13. I’m not so sure I agree with cops having this type of equipment, but if they do, than Joe Average should also have access to the same things.

    I once saw an episode of some Nat Geo cop show about Alaska State Troopers. There was a quote from one of the cops that went something like “You never know who is out here [in the backwoods] and what kind of weapons they might have, so we have to be careful and approach each situation delicately”.

    As it should be.

    1. I’ve watched that show a few times. Those cops are quite aware that they are universally hated, and they relish it.

      1. It’s nice to know there’s a place where the default position is to hate/mistrust the cops.

    2. In fairness, if I were an Alaska State Trooper and operating in that wilderness where I am not the top of the food chain, I would want something bigger than a .40 caliber pistol. I don’t want to be out there and run into a moose or a brown bear or a polar bear armed with something that is just going to piss it off.

      The Alaska Troopers might be the one LEO in the country that should have powerful weapons.

      1. Alaska State Troopers have more to fear from mountain men than from moose or bear.

        1. As it should be

        2. Probably so. I wouldn’t want to confront them with just a pistol either.

          There are some places in this country where being a cop is a no shit deal. Alaska is one of those places.

          The problem is that cops in big cities who are never more than two minutes away from massive backup like to pretend their job is the same as some Alaska State Trooper out alone a hundred miles from nowhere.

        3. sarcasmic

          It’s “moose and squirrel”…

  14. John, how do you feel about the cops having their bullet proof vests taken away though?

    JK

    1. I don’t have a problem with it. Cops are a problem but they are not a problem in the way a criminal is. There are times when cops are justified in using force and when they do deal with people that are very dangerous and need to be dealt with.

      I would never totally disarm cops or prevent cops from dealing out violence when it is truly necessary. The problem is that seem to have totally lost their ability to properly determine when that is. If a cop means me harm, he is going to harm me. It really doesn’t matter what his weapon of choice is. The problem is cops. Their weapons are incidental.

      1. Cops are a problem but they are not a problem in the way a criminal is.

        I don’t think anybody here is pretending they are.

        BUT, having said that, I think they create a different set of problems that criminals create. First off, they have helped create a criminal class that should not even exist just so they can have job security. Secondly, criminals are universally loathed by society for their actions while cops are granted a long leash even when they act criminally.

        If we eliminate the victimless crime, hold police officers accountable for their actions and grant the general citizenry the same opportunity to defend themselves with the tools police use in an offensive manner then there will be much less combativeness on the part of everybody. But there’s no way cops would allow any of these things to happen because they generally love power and their willingness to use it indiscriminately rests on the shoulders of legislation criminalizing victimless behavior an their ability to acquire tools that are unavailable to you or I.

        1. You are right about cops. They love power and it has gone to their heads. But an MRAP or an assault rifle isn’t really a very good instrument to use that power. Cops don’t want to mow down huge numbers of civilians. What is the fun in that?

          Cops are bullies. Cops want promotions and the thrill that goes with having authority. You get some of that from running around with an assault rifle or an MRAP but not as much as you do from harassing someone at a traffic stop. Bad cops are more than anything power mad bullies. They are not generally psychotic killers. They want the thrill that comes from being able to kick in someone’s teeth for mouthing off to them. They want the thrill of rushing in someone’s home and throwing them to the ground and terrorizing them.

          Military weapons are fun to play with but they don’t give you those kinds of kicks. And those the kicks that bad cops, which seems to be most of them these days, are looking for.

  15. The more I think about it, the more I think these types of things are a real security problem and a threat. I bet you could easily steal one of those MRAPS from these departments if you took your time and found a particularly slothful one. I bet it has never occurred to any of these departments someone would want to do it.

    Now imagine you are a terrorist cell in the US. Sure, you could get yourself some automatic weapons and go after a mall like they did in Kenya or Mumbai and do a lot of damage. Now. imagine what you could do if you had some automatic weapons and an MRAP. No one short of an Army Amour unit could touch you. If a group of determined murderous people got lose in a city with MRAP is would be a nightmare.

  16. This law is stupid.
    Most equipment purchased by government doesn’t fit into the category of “readily available in an open national commercial market”.
    Public utility trucks and firefighting vehicles, as examples, are made to very precise specifications and are ordered special – in a competitive bidding procedure – that’s not “readily available”.
    Except for items the police could buy on the open market – those “grenade launchers” they speak of can be purchased at any gun show – what the military provides, which is surplus and would be destroyed if not put to a use, is defensive in nature.
    The type of APC’s issued don’t have gun turrets and anti-tank weapons. They are used to transport troops – cops – to a location without the concern of being shot on the way.
    The major whine, here, is about optics and, you know what? Most of those who do have to consider having bullets fired at them – cops and soldiers – could give a rat’s ass about how things look.

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