5 years, 4 months ago
From The San Francisco Chronicle:
Peace officers throughout California have bought more than 7,600 assault weapons that are outlawed for civilians in the decade since state lawmakers allowed the practice, according to data obtained by the Associated Press after it was revealed that federal authorities are investigating illegal gun sales by law enforcement.
Investigators have not said what kinds of weapons were involved, but did say they were ones that officers can buy but civilians cannot. That category also can include certain types of handguns and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The AP’s findings and the federal probe have prompted one state lawmaker to revisit the law to ensure that the guns can be bought only for police purposes.
“I think it’s much more questionable whether we should allow peace officers to have access to weapons or firearms that a private citizen wouldn’t have access to if the use is strictly personal,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento.
The information was obtained through a California Public Records Act request filed after federal authorities served search warrants in November as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of illegal weapons sales by several Sacramento-area law enforcement officers.
The investigation has raised questions about the kinds of restricted weapons that the more than 87,000 peace officers in the state are entitled to purchase and about a 2001 law that allows them to buy assault weapons “for law enforcement purposes, whether on or off duty.”
The AP found that some departments allow officers to use the weapons in their off time while others require that the weapons be used only on-duty, although an opinion by the state attorney general issued last year says officers can acquire the guns for any purpose but must relinquish them when they retire.
A department-by-department breakdown of purchases made this year, released as part of the AP’s records request, shows that Los Angeles Police Department officers bought 146 guns, the most in the state. The department’s policy says the guns are to be used only for police purposes.
Today, about 1,300 of the nearly 10,000 LAPD officers have assault rifles, more than 500 of them purchased by the officers themselves.
“We’re not interested in loading up people’s gun closets with assault weapons,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, who spent $1,200 on his gun. “The idea is that these guys would be able to have these in the trunks of their police cars if they’re needed.”
Officers in the San Diego Police Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Long Beach Police Department also registered large numbers of assault weapons so far this year.
Skirting the law, they are. So the LEOs purchase the weapons, and then don’t turn them in when they retire. But the LEOs want to keep their weapons.
“We think that an officer that extends himself and buys this for his department and his community is being unduly punished as they go out the door,” said Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California.
City police officers, county sheriff’s deputies, California Highway Patrol officers, state game wardens, school police officers and other law enforcement personnel can buy assault weapons with their own money, at a cost often exceeding $1,200.
The proposed legislation is still being written but likely would allow officers to re-register their weapons once they retire, similar to the registrations required for those who owned assault rifles before California’s ban became law in 1999.
The peace officers group is a federation of more than 900 local, state and federal law enforcement associations representing 62,000 public safety employees in California. It bills itself as the state’s largest law enforcement organization.
No, no, and a thousand times no! It doesn’t work this way. So there is some utility in so-called assault weapons having nothing whatsoever to do with the official duties of being a law enforcement officer (such as home defense), or the retired LEOs wouldn’t want to keep them.
But if retired LEOs can be deemed to be stable, crime-free and reliable enough to own a weapon with a high capacity magazine and a forend grip, then so can citizens who weren’t employed as LEOs. There is no basis – logical, moral or legal – on which to exempt retired LEOs from the same law under which everyone else must live in California.
I must strongly encourage the state legislature of California to do the right thing and reject this subversion of the rule of law. On the other hand, if they may be persuaded that so-called assault weapons aren’t really used to perpetrate mass killings like the propaganda says, and that the AR may be considered a legitimate home defense weapon, and if the sensibilities of the retired LEOs in California are correct and there is some utility to so-called assault weapons in defense of the home, then perhaps they may also be persuaded to undo the assault weapons ban for all citizens of California. Either way, consistency isn’t the hobgoblin of little minds as claimed by the idiot Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is the stuff of life. It’s the way we all live.