Military-style Police Equipment: Gun Control Rhetoric or Justified Outrage

By Dave Dolbee published on in News

Law enforcement officers made the national news as of late in Ferguson Missouri accused of being too military-like. However, who can trust the spin-doctors in the main street media? Are the police really out of control, or is the media spinning the debate in an effort to promote gun control? I took to the streets of Ferguson for a first hand look and to a conclusion that was more than expected.

Protestor holding a Demilitarize the Police in Ferguson Missouri

This protestor was not a Ferguson local, but presents a real danger our Second Amendment rights.

The Issue

An old adage of war states, “There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.” One can say much the same about the police. When facing off with the police, protestors and media claim the police have too many weapons, riot gear that makes them look more like an occupying military force than law enforcement and are using military-style tactics. On the other hand, police officers are not paid to be moving targets, bullet sponges, crash test dummies or fireproof clothing testers. So where should we draw the line between the safety and security of law enforcement and civil liberties?

Do we want to support a narrative that builds a slippery slope to potentially losing our own gun rights?

Now, before we get too far down the rabbit hole, let’s put a few matters into perspective. First, while I have heard a lot of rhetoric from people who certainly must be much braver than me… who wouldn’t or hasn’t called the police at one time or another to settle a dispute or investigate a crime? Let’s not forget, we are talking about the people who respond to the call when others dial 9-1-1 and run away or shelter in place. Sure, in the movies the little guy gets revenge, but we are talking about reality here. If it were your loved one, son, daughter, spouse, mother or father on the front line, would you not want them to have every layer of protection possible? After all, the police are not gladiators to be sent into the ring for a blood sport.

Graffiti against the police in Ferguson

The locals are no fans of law enforcement, but we should not let that play into an anti Second Amendment agenda.

That is not to say fault cannot be assigned though. The Shooter’s Log has an art director who is launched into the stratosphere every time a photo is submitted with someone’s finger on the trigger and for good reason. Firearm safety articles continually preach muzzle discipline and admonish shooters to NEVER point a firearm toward ANYTHING they do not intend to destroy. So, why have the police been so willing to surface from armored vehicles with a rifle and scan the crowd through the riflescope? Since when is it okay to clear a McDonald’s using firearms like laser pointers toward citizens who have not presented a danger? What about the out-of-control officer pointing his long gun and yelling, “Get back or I will bleeping kill you!” Of course we can find fault—justified fault—in anything scenario given enough time and people. However this still begs the question, “Have they not trained in muzzle discipline or is there a justification for any of these behaviors?”

Have you considered how many times the gun grabbers have accused AR-15 owners as having no legitimate reason to own a ‘military-style assault rifle?’ Are we going to blindly follow the media when they make the same argument but substitute law enforcement?

I do not have the answers, I am merely posing the questions in an effort to promote debate and hear a wide selection or reader’s points of view.

Gun Control Rhetoric

Most people reading now are not in Ferguson nor are they professional law enforcement, but that is not to say the debate does not affect you personally. Have you considered how many times the gun grabbers have accused AR-15 owners as having no legitimate reason to own a ‘military-style assault rifle?’ How many assaults have pro gun rights groups endured over the number of rounds legal gun owners should be able to have in a magazine? What about caliber selection, the ‘lethality’ of personal defense ammunition? If the military tops their rifles with one of Trijicon’s ACOGs, should you or the police be banned from doing the same as a result? After all, if the military uses it or something like it, the antis will consider it “military-like.” In case you have not been paying attention that is where this argument could be heading.

Reporter with gas mask at a McDonalds

Would you consider a gas mask as ‘military-style’ equipment?

A Backdoor Gun Control Movement?

So, is the media’s current narrative doing little more than playing into the hands of those who seek to eliminate the Second Amendment? How often have we stated that if it was good enough for law enforcement, civilians should have the same rights for self-defense? Do we want to support a narrative that builds a slippery slope to potentially losing our own gun rights? Moreover, it will not stop at guns, how does the ‘military-style’ rhetoric play into other areas of equipment. What about gas masks, plate carriers, MOLLE gear, ammo cans, military collectables such as military helmets, camo, Alice packs, load bearing gear and more. The media’s current narrative could blur the lines to the point not only would we lose our Second Amendment rights, but the rhetoric could be taken so far that we lose the right to own much, much more.

Do you feel there is a danger to the current ‘military-style’ rhetoric used against the police or is it justified with police departments that are simply out of control and over equipped? Or do you find truth on both sides? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.

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SLRule

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (119)

  • Larry Garrison

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    Being in Law Enforcement for over twenty five years. When I first started we were issued a side arm S&W 5904 three mags, a pump shotgun and a PR24 to protect ourselves and others then the bad guy began to arm themselves with better weapons and we were out gunned. We forget the Bank of America robbery in Hollywood where the Police were out gunned and could not stop the action of two heavily armed men hell bent on killing for money. We are now equipped and trained with assault type weapons and sometimes we are still out gunned and out numbered. If you’ve never been called to a riot type situation you will never know the feeling of true fear. When the crowd is projecting hatred toward you and spitting and throwing things at you not knowing who in the crowd is armed and not knowing if your in the Crosshair of someone scope. You are there for their protection willing to die for a stranger that hates you, willing to leave your family alone without you so this stranger can go home safe a continue their hatred for their protectors. With that said I’m a firm believer that if your going to arm Police with weapons any weapons they need to constantly train and qualify with those weapons. Pointing a weapon at an unarmed person is unacceptable and should never be done. I’ve point my weapon at individuals who I perceived as armed but when the situation was assessed I reacted properly. We in Law Enforcement need weapons to do our job to protect our communities and its visitors but we must constantly train and upgrade to keep up with the threats we face each day. With that all being said I’m also a firm believer that each citizen who legally can should arm themselves to protect themselves. The saying goes, A GUN IN THE HAND IS BETTER THAN A COP ON THE PHONE. I’m on my way but can’t be everywhere at once so protect yourselves and train hard and train real.

    Reply

  • Paul

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    AS A SIDE NOTE, some of this military surplus, such as sleeping bags, tents, mess kits, shovels, cookware, ropes, duffle bags, micky boots and computers made it into our Boy Scout Troop when me and my son were involved. It allowed us to supply for about 10 cents on the dollar the troop required equipment. (Most cost was fuel going to pick out, then later to pick up) we had a County Commissioner set us up to get items on their account then reimburse the County.

    Reply

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