Truthfully, the acquisition of two HK MP5 submachine guns by Flemington, NJ (population on par with Barney Fife’s Mayberry) is a local interest story, but it’s symptomatic of a larger problem in police departments across the country:
Although a couple of residents expressed opposition, Borough Council has approved resolutions authorizing the purchase of police equipment ranging from submachine guns to speed-monitor signs.
Tony Previte, a retired New Brunswick cop, said he can’t understand “spending thousands of dollars to militarize our Police Department.” He said officials are mistaken if they think “if you’re armed to the teeth somehow you’re going to be safer.” He said that expensive weaponry is of no use against a determined person.
Lois Stewart said, “It scares me that we have all these guns, even though it’s the police… It’s overkill.”
But now thanks to a pig-headed Flemington borough council, Andy and Barney are bringing the heat:
Two Hecker & Koch submachine guns for $2,248 total from Amchar. This would bring the department total to six. Swingle explained that the additional guns are needed to “make sure all of our officers on a shift have a rifle. If we are deploying an extra officer (for) a public event or something like that, we want to make sure that everyone who is qualified is equipped. And the reality is… you never know who will be closest to the scene and will be the first one to respond. You don’t want to” run the risk that the first on the scene won’t “have the equipment they need to take care of the situation.”
Newsflash for Councilman Brian Swingle: you still don’t have rifles.
You bought 9mm submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition, and at a time where they are being dumped by knowledgeable police departments and military units alike because of their myriad inadequacies as weapon systems.
MP5s are chambered in 9mm. They fire a pistol-caliber bullet that has the dual properties of being both relatively short-ranged, while still posing an over-penetration threat.
Translated into layman’s terms, the Flemington council is spending money on bullet hoses that are more likely to miss their targets (and endanger the town’s law-abiding residents) than hit bad guys beyond 10-25 yards (depending on the skill of the individual officer) when fired as submachine guns.
The 9mm pistol bullets typically used in MP5s are 115-grain to 147-grain weight, and have a long and well-documented history of boring through through building materials, even when used with hollowpoint ammunition instead of the round-nosed full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets typical used to ensure reliability.
Sheetrock and siding tends to simply fill up the cavity in the front of hollowpoint bullets, and they go on to blow through 10-12 layers of sheetrock or more (that translates into multiple apartments or entire homes) as a solid lead mass, still retaining lethal-force velocities.
If little Opie and Aunt Bea (I’m going to pound this metaphor to death) happen to be in their home cooking dinner when the Flemington PD opens up on Otis with their subguns 50 yards away, it is quite possible that the bullets missing Otis—and even some that hit him—will continue on their merry way to chew through outer wall of the Taylor family home, through the interior walls of other rooms across the house, to come to a rest in Opie, meaning modern American cinema classics like Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind never get made.
If the Flemington council had listened to retired New Brunswick cop Tony Previte instead of using hours spent playing Call of Duty to inform their purchasing decisions, they might have opted for a much cheaper, effective, and ultimately safer firearm, in the form of the ubiquitous AR-15, which is one of the most popular self-defense long guns in the United States for both police officers and civilians for a laundry list of reasons that can (and has) filled books.
Instead of spending $1,124 each for two arguably obsolete firearms most agencies have dumped, they could have spent the same amount of money and picked up at least three (and possibly four) semi-auto AR-15s from reputable companies that have more than twice the effective range of an MP5, better accuracy (especially as range increases) and which tend to have more effect on target.
Even better, the small, high-velocity .223 Remington bullets (whether hollowpoint or FMJ) tends to break up and fragment when it hits building material, posing less of a risk to Opie and Aunt Bea, meaning I still get to go see Rush.
Like other recent examples of law enforcement militarization, the purchasing of submachine guns by small town police forces is an example of town councils and law enforcement doing something simply because they can, not because they should, or because it’s in the real best interests of their citizens.