Barack Obama, who began his rhetorical war against police in 2009 when he proclaimed to the world that police “acted stupidly” in arresting his friend and who has tacitly sided with the criminals and rioters against police, has managed to find another way to tweak law enforcement, by asserting they are incapable of using surplus military equipment properly.
In a surprise announcement coming nine months after police in riot gear dispelled racially charged protests, President Barack Obama is banning the federal government from providing some military-style equipment to local departments and putting stricter controls on other weapons and gear distributed to law enforcement.
The announcement comes after the White House suggested last year that Obama would maintain programs that provide the type of military-style equipment used to respond to demonstrators last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, because of their broader contribution to public safety. But an interagency group found “substantial risk of misusing or overusing” items like tracked armored vehicles, high-powered firearms and camouflage could undermine trust in police.
So what exactly is Obama banning?
In previewing the president’s trip, the White House said that effective immediately, the federal government will no longer fund or provide armored vehicles that run on a tracked system instead of wheels, weaponized aircraft or vehicles, firearms or ammunition of .50-caliber or higher, grenade launchers, bayonets or camouflage uniforms. The federal government also is exploring ways to recall prohibited equipment already distributed.
The only tracked vehicles we’re aware of the military ever donating to law enforcement are 50-year-old M113s, the Vietnam-era armored personnel carriers capable of deflecting small arms fire, which are in use with just a handful of departments. They are typically only used for very high-risk operations, such as hostage extractions.
I’m also fairly certain that “weaponized aircraft” aren’t being deployed by the local sheriff, nor are they being issued tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, or other vehicles with military weapons attached. That said, if you see your local PD equipped with an M1A2 Abrams, I’ll want pictures.
Likewise, I’m not aware of any law enforcement agencies anywhere being issued M2 .50 BMGs, and only a handful of urban SWAT teams nationwide use .50 BMG rifles in a very limited capacity, and then only for terrorist threat scenarios. Likewise, the loan of old military grenade launchers like the M79 that police use to lob tear gas towards rioters is relatively rare, as agencies find it more practical to purchase more modern systems directly from the manufacturer.
In addition, a longer list of equipment the federal government provides will come under tighter control, including wheeled armored vehicles like Humvees, manned aircraft, drones, specialized firearms, explosives, battering rams and riot batons, helmets and shields. Starting in October, police will have to get approval from their city council, mayor or some other local governing body to obtain it, provide a persuasive explanation of why it is needed and have more training and data collection on the use of the equipment.
And now we’re getting to the heart of the matter.
The White House order isn’t just anti-law enforcement, though the announcement is certainly calculated to strike that tone in certain communities.
By denying law enforcement officers armored extraction vehicles (which have no offensive capability), manned aircraft and drones to provide real-time data during periods of unrest so that agencies can quickly counter and minimize outbreaks of rioting and looting, and basic protective equipment like batons, shields, armor, and helmets, Obama is attacking the very concept of civility and order itself.
On one hand, the Obama Administration is actively siding with racial division and civil unrest, and have now stated the position that they’re going to take an active role in making it more difficult for police to acquire unused defensive-only military surplus that is rusting in the sun or sitting unused in government warehouses.
One has to wonder if this is a calculated move to intentionally make it more difficult to bring riots under control, and further divide the nation.
I hope that citizens realize that now, more than ever, they are going to be responsible for the safety of not only their own families, but for their neighborhoods during periods of civil instability that President Obama almost seems to want to encourage.