Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Police survey reveals more military-style weapons in cops hands

USA Today notes the continuation of the trend toward more military-type equipment in law enforcement (Police needing heavier weapons):

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement agencies across the country have been upgrading
their firepower to deal with what they say is the increasing presence of
high-powered weapons on the streets.

Scott Knight, chairman of the
Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, says an
informal survey of about 20 departments revealed that since 2004 all of the
agencies have either added weapons to officers' patrol units or have replaced
existing weaponry with military-style arms.

Knight, police chief in
Chaska, Minn., says the upgrades have occurred since a national ban on certain
assault weapons expired in September 2004. The ban, passed in 1994, in part
prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons and
ammunition dispensers holding more than 10 rounds.

"This (weapons
upgrade) is being done with an eye to the absolute knowledge that more
higher-caliber weapons are on the street since the expiration of the ban,"
Knight said. He said his own department of about 20 officers is in the midst of
determining whether to upgrade its weapons.
One thing I find interesting about this story is the lack of facts or sources cited, other than the anecdotal quotes from the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) spokesmen. There are no numbers given anywhere in the story to support the justification. Further:

Stucker says deputies are now "frequently" encountering assault weapons in local
robberies and during simple traffic stops. Weapons seizures in Orlando have
increased overall by 26% since 2004.
What kinds of "weapons seizures?" Are we talking about "assault weapons," knives, .22s, or 50-caliber M-2s?

Paul Erhardt, a spokesman for major gun manufacturer Sigarms, says the 2001
terrorist attacks, the violence following Hurricane Katrina and other
high-profile incidents involving weapons contributed more to law enforcement's
interest in rearming officers than any concerns raised by the expiring assault
weapons ban. Erhardt's company outfits about 40% of the statewide law
enforcement agencies in the USA.
This story seems to be an attempt to hit at the expiration of the assault weapons ban (so-called), and firearms in general. Opponents of the assault weapons ban rightly criticized it because it actually penalized the appearance of a rifle, rather than the function. For example I know several people, including a family member, that own AK-47 variants, and most are semi-automatic, but not fully automatic, which would meet the definition of an assault rifle. The last paragraph probably reveals more of the truth than you'll likely get without a more representative survey of hundreds of agencies with regard to the reasons.

From the outside looking in, the IACP has always been a very political organization, whose interests aren't necessarily the same as the rank and file, nor do they claim to. Follow the money here - grants don't grow on trees...
Meanwhile, can anyone tell me of the last time they heard about a mass-murder, robbery, or hold-up where the perpetrator was armed with a real assault weapon? This is the only one I can think of, besides Waco. Comments?

1 comment:

Dojo Rat said...

We've been watching this happen for twenty years now. While the police become increasingly more militarized, the military has stepped in and become a police force.
It started with the so-called "war on drugs". During the hurricane in Louisiana Bush *(Cheney) wanted to federalize the State National Guard, and the Governor said no fuckin way.
Now, in yesterday's news it was reported that Bush *(Cheney) has, without the consent of Congress, changed the "insurrection act" to allow the militay to be used on American soil against American citizens.
And you are right, military weapons are almost never used in crimes. I considered Waco an act of self-defense.