Morning Links

Friday, June 5th, 2009
  • How FDA regulation of tobacco will become a public health disaster. The public health community’s aversion to less unhealthy tobacco products really is killing people.
  • I’ve been waiting for this Nancy Rommelmann piece from our July issue on the “sexting” panic to go online. It’s really well-written and well-reported.
  • Anti-boobs terrorist burns down topless coffee shop.
  • More on Boomtown D.C.
  • Boston Mayor Thomas Menino rarely gets much of anything right. So it’s worth praising him when he does.
  • Medical marijuana grower in Seattle gets robbed, calls cops, then gets robbed a second time by the city government.
  • Police in Michigan tase giant stuffed toy cougar. Stay.
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  • 61 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Tomcatshanger | 

      @ JS

      Yeah the cops do have armored vehicles, and for the life of me I don’t know why they do. They don’t need them.

      No, they have a police helicopter overhead. It doesn’t have rockets or cannons or missiles or bombs, it’s not air support, it’s air observation. If we are going to qualify an unarmed police helicopter as air support, we can start calling their police cruisers Armored Personal Carriers.

      Cops have had rifles for as long as there has been rifles, and they certainly didn’t used to call us civilians.

      The reference to the haircut I just don’t understand. A military hair cut is short hair on guys. It’s not special in any way.

      What explains why we are the biggest prison state is the money behind the drug war, which also explains the militarization of the Police with armored vehicles and no knock raids.

      But the drug war could evaporated tomorrow, and the police would still have a legitimate use for rifles in law enforcement.

      The militarization is bad. But I don’t see how it includes rifles.

    2. #2 |  Tomcatshanger | 

      @ Bill

      Yeah we do, and the entire need for SWAT responses should be under public scrutiny, but that’s not really the topic at hand.

      SWAT doesn’t come out in public unless some idiot political figure (be it a politician or a public bureaucrat) deems a show of force is necessary, just like in a third world dictatorship. They tend to do it to show how pro-active they are, and scaring the crap out of their citizens doesn’t bug them at all, which should really give pause to those same citizens.

      But patrol officers don’t wear camo, don’t walk the beat with slung rifles and obvious body armor and tactical gear.

      But they should have an effective rifle in their patrol vehicle in order to respond to active shooter calls.

    3. #3 |  KBCraig | 

      I find it amusing that Boston keeps calling these military surplus M16s “semiautomatic rifles”, when in fact they’re machine guns (the Army doesn’t have semiautomatics).

      Meanwhile, if a citizen had a true semiautomatic civilian model AR15, they’d be calling it an “assault weapon”.

    4. #4 |  Tom G | 

      Tomcatshanger –
      Maybe my mention of body armor and radios but not rifles confused you, if so it was unintentional.
      My concern isn’t so much with rifles as with all the (more obvious) military equipment (armored vehicles, camo gear, full automatic machine guns, and other items mentioned by others). It is indeed that blurring of the line between police and a more military look-and-attitude that concerns me.

    5. #5 |  Episiarch | 

      I find it amusing that Boston keeps calling these military surplus M16s “semiautomatic rifles”, when in fact they’re machine guns (the Army doesn’t have semiautomatics).

      Wrong. Military M-16s can be set to a semi-auto setting or a tri-burst setting (three rounds fired per trigger pull). M-16s have not been fully automatic for years. The SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) is the only fully auto light weapon in regular use.

      Presumably any M-16s given to the police have the tri-burst setting removed, rendering them semi-auto, just like the Bushmaster you can go down to the gun store and buy.

      Don’t take this as an endorsement of police having high-powered rifles on regular patrol; I am merely correcting you. The last thing we should have is police, who are usually awful shots, with high-penetration weapons on regular patrol. Collateral damage would be huge when one of these fools starts shooting at Amadou Diallo.

    6. #6 |  KBCraig | 

      I find it amusing that Boston keeps calling these military surplus M16s “semiautomatic rifles”, when in fact they’re machine guns (the Army doesn’t have semiautomatics).

      Wrong. Military M-16s can be set to a semi-auto setting or a tri-burst setting (three rounds fired per trigger pull). M-16s have not been fully automatic for years. The SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) is the only fully auto light weapon in regular use.

      Presumably any M-16s given to the police have the tri-burst setting removed, rendering them semi-auto, just like the Bushmaster you can go down to the gun store and buy.

      Episiarch,

      Any firearm that fires more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger is a machine gun. That is the legal definition, and it has been used to prosecute people when their guns doubled because of worn or defective parts.

      I repeat what I said: an M16 is a machine gun. The M16A2 configuration (with 3-round burst) is, and legally always will be, a machine gun, no matter what parts are switched out. If you block the gas tube and weld up the magazine well to make it a single-shot straight-pull, it will still be a “machine gun” in the eyes of the law.

    7. #7 |  BamBam | 

      First, they are issued to first responders who can make a difference ( the best quickest way to end an active shooter situation is for the first cop on scene to immediately engage the shooter).

      Only problem is that this rarely happens. There are many documented cases (Columbine and other schools, several mall shootings, etc) where the cops wait around for 30-60 minutes. Cops are simply historians, and don’t have the legal obligation to protect anyone (except The State) per many court rulings, including the Supreme Court.

    8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Regarding the sexting article, it kinda makes you wonder how the children of families who visit nudist resorts deal with the psychological trauma and personal destruction of actually being seen naked. Hell, there are entire tribes in Africa who probably don’t even know how much damage they’re causing their children by allowing them to be naked in front of the whole world, even being published in that icon of porn, National Geographic. The way some people treat nudity, you’d think they were born naked.

      Sexual hysteria and the persecution it facilitates are a product of culture. These laws are not about protecting anyone, least of all children. They’re just part of the ever escalating crusade against rationality of which this is but one tiny aspect.

    9. #9 |  Nick | 

      To those opposed to issuing officers rifles, I’m wondering if you can point to any situations that were made worse because police officers had rifles instead of just handguns. I’m talking about patrol officers now – not SWAT units and other specialized units ( they already have rifles ).

      I may be incorrect, but it seems that many or most of those objecting to patrol rifles are not familiar with firearms. Patrol rifles are comparable to weapons that can be purchased by any citizen. Many departments do purchase civilian rifles off the shelf. I believe they are de-milled so that they can no longer fire 3 round bursts before being given to the police.

      I think being so vocal in objecting to arming cops with the same guns that civilians can legally buy, we’re alienating all of the NRA types who should be our allies. If you want to see no knock raids go away, convince the NRA that they’re putting the lives of honest gun owners at risk by entering the wrong house too often.

      @BamBam

      Check out this article discussing modern police tactics regarding active shooters:

      http://www.policeone.com/active-shooter/articles/1695125-Ohio-trainer-makes-the-case-for-single-officer-entry-against-active-killers/

      And the responses by police officers:

      http://www.policeone.com/police-products/firearms/articles/1697972-Solo-officers-vs-active-killers-Officers-speak-out/

      It’s officers like the first response there that need a patrol rifle. Most of them will never be used – most cops never fire their guns. If a bad cop has a rifle, well by the time the police are shooting at you I don’t think it makes too much difference what they’re armed with. But when the shit hits the fan, if that one guy running into the danger isn’t armed appropriately, his life and and the lives of other innocents could be forfeit.

    10. #10 |  Brandon Bowers | 

      I don’t really get the opposition to the police carrying rifles, either, provided they are carried in their cruisers and not strapped on their backs except when absolutely necessary. I do understand the aversion to it, because the thought of certain police officers having more firepower is terrifying, but I can’t really articulate a rational argument against it, other than to suggest removing the rifles from the hands of any officer who has a brutality complaint against him. That said, if regular police are carrying rifles in their patrol cars, it kinda renders the need for the vast majority of SWAT units moot, right? Maybe keep one or two teams per state or major city, and only use them in hostage situations or times where they are actually needed, not to serve warrants because paranoid small-minded city officials have to justify their existence.

    11. #11 |  Allen | 

      Nick pretty much covered it.

      When a police department gets surplus M-16s, they do generally get converted to semi-auto.

      In that mode, they are a very reasonable tool to put in the hands of a patrol officer to deal with active shooter situations, including mass public shootings or situations like the North Hollywood bank robbery. (Remember all the cops running to the gun shops looking for rifles?)

      The 5.56 mm round used in an M-16 or AR-15 is a pretty light-duty round, for a rifle. It doesn’t have the raw penetrating power of a heavier round, like a 7.62×51 (.308), but it does give you more reach than a pistol round. That makes it good in both urban environments, where you are worried about bystanders behind walls, and more rural environments, where you might need the extra range. Your accuracy is much better in either case. Basically, cops want them for the same reasons I have one: a good quality, intermediate-power, accurate tool for engaging targets from short range (10 feet) out to a few hundred yards.

      It’s worth remembering that a semi-auto AR is much less powerful than a 12-gauge shotgun, and pretty much every police car in the country has one of those. We’re just more used to seeing police shotguns.

      More important than the tool is the training: what will the officers be taught about the appropriate time to deploy their rifles? If their training says the rifles only come out for active shooters, armed felon manhunts, and the like, then there really isn’t a problem. From that perspective, I would speculate that a patrol officer doing community policing is *less* likely to make a bad choice regarding using his rifle because he is (in theory) more in tune with his neighborhood.

      Now, in the specific case of Boston (or California, or New York), I think they’re out of line, because their legislative bodies have decided that civilians shouldn’t have access to AR-15s, and law enforcement is a civilian function.