AWB Impacts Cops Too

Experts | Cop Talk |

By Massad Ayoob

On Dec. 14, 2013, a mentally disturbed man shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. When police approached, he shot himself to death, but not before he had murdered 20 little children and half a dozen helpless adult school personnel. It was an atrocity that shook the nation, and it triggered the most vehement spate of gun banning legislation in the history of the long and bitterly polarized gun control debate.

Within weeks, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ram-rodded a Draconian gun bill through his state’s legislature. It was literally put through in the dark of night, and literally unconstitutional, because it bypassed the New York State Constitution’s requirement of a 72-hour debate period. With a stroke of the pen, Cuomo signed a bill, which limited people to seven cartridges in a magazine.

It was a classic “canary in a mineshaft.” Assembled hastily and with little significant research, the bill neglected to exempt the Empire State’s law enforcement community. Overnight, almost all the cops in the state were criminalized, unless they downloaded their magazines. Rectifying that was high on the list of what one state representative counted as 60 amendments put on the table within a week of the law being made.

Other Ramifications

At the national level, Dianne Feinstein’s AWB quickly followed, still in many ways as unclear as the abysmally crafted New York law. The semi-auto .223/5.56mm patrol rifle, normally in the AR-15 format, is a cornerstone of the modern law enforcement armory. However, the difficult economic times of the last several years have devastated police department budgets. Layoffs are rampant, countless departments are far below authorized manpower and some departments have literally been shut down by communities which could no longer afford them. Therefore, many LE agencies — Florida Highway Patrol, for example — can only get AR-15s in the patrol cars by giving troopers permission to purchase their own.

If the Feinstein AWB passes in a way allowing only police departments to purchase such arms, the rank and file will at best be told, “Well, you can buy your own rifle through the department for a thousand or two thousand dollars and protect the public with it, but when you leave the job, we’ll confiscate it.” The result will be cops and citizens less well protected, or cops who are unjustly penalized for doing the best they can to protect the public.

“NY compliant” for visiting out of state officers. From top, Glock 36 (6+1 .45 ACP),
Springfield XDS (5+1 .45 ACP) and Glock 39 (6+1 .45 GAP).

Retired Or Out Of Jurisdiction

It took more than a decade for HR218 to become LEOSA, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act signed into law by then-President George W. Bush. It has enabled off-duty cops to carry nationwide, and retired cops who keep up their qualifications to do the same. However, LEOSA has put out-of-jurisdiction or retired cops on the same footing hardware-wise as law-abiding armed citizens. Unless you’re a Fed or on police business, if you’re in California, Hawaii or New York or some other state with its own 10-round magazine limit, the visiting or retired officers are likewise limited.

An AR-15 with a 30-round MagPul mag. A staple of law
enforce-ment, often “privately owned/dept. approved.”

Macroeconomics Of The AWB

One reason that Florida Highway Patrolman could afford to buy his own AR-15 — and departments, of course, could do the same — was that millions of those guns were being sold to private citizens too, keeping the cost affordable. If the civilian market dries up some of those gunmakers will go out of business, and others will have to raise their prices to keep paying their employees to produce them. The result will be fewer, more expensive guns, which fewer communities can afford to buy for their cops. The net result of that is a public less well protected by its police.

Since the first election of President Obama in 2008, the well-grounded fear he would restrict ownership rights of guns and ammunition fueled panic buying reaching a peak shortly after the Newtown atrocity. Nationwide, police find themselves unable to purchase training ammunition and even fresh duty ammunition in a timely fashion. The pending AWB legislation has thus severely impacted police training, police skill maintenance and police ability to protect the public — and even themselves — from violent criminals.

The criminals, who shoot at cops, by definition, don’t obey laws. Weapon bans and restrictions are likely to be obeyed only by the law-abiding. The AWB’s impact on actual criminals was proven in the last 10-year experiment to be negligible. Off-duty cops outside their jurisdictions, retired cops and police family members at home and in danger from the vengeance of those the family cop has arrested will be hampered more by an AWB than the criminals we’re told the AWB is aimed at. And, as we’ve seen, even currently serving on-duty cops will feel a negative impact from the “assault weapons ban” hysteria.

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