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 |  Tom G | 

      I haven’t read details on the trend of military offering free equipment to police but (1) how is this legal? and (2) it’s just plain crazy and should be forbidden by Congress if it IS legal.
      No military equipment should ever be given to civilian law enforcement. (Or sold to them, for that matter)

    2. #2 |  Ben | 

      Haven’t read the article yet, but I’m a smoker. I’ve smoked for about 13 years now. I NEVER had a smokers cough until the introduced the new and improved “Fire Safe Cigarettes.” Within days of them changing over, I started coughing. Haven’t stopped yet.

      Now the obvious answer is I should quit, but I don’t. Also, if you look at how the tobacco in cigarettes is made, the majority of it (about 60% I think) is reconstituted ground-up stems and such with binders added. It’s pretty damned gross.

    3. #3 |  Edmund Dantes | 

      A judge in Niagra County, New York, ruled Thursday that DNA evidence, obtained only after police applied a Taser to a suspect who refused to provide evidence against himself, may be used by the prosecution because the electric shock was not administered with malice.

      Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza, with this 17-page decision, becomes “the first judge in western civilization to say you can use a Taser to enforce a court order,” defense attorney Patrick Balkin said, according to The Niagara Gazette.

      “Note that if Smith is guilty, he’s a pretty bad guy,” interjected The Buffalo News. “He’s charged with shooting a man in the groin after invading his ex-girlfriend’s home, tying up her two children and forcing her to take her to the home of the man he shot. He’s also charged with the shotgun-point robbery of a Niagara Falls gas station. DNA was found at both crime scenes.”

      Smith, according to reports, had previously agreed to a court order for a DNA sample. But when authorities accidentally spoiled the sample, forcing them to return to the judge for a second order Sperrazza issued it without consulting the defense counsel, thinking the defendant would not mind.

      “Smith did object, reportedly telling officers, ‘I ain’t giving it up. You’re going to have to tase me,’” added Buffalo News.

      “Which they did, after consulting with a prosecutor, who either told them to use ‘the minimum force necessary’ (according to police testimony at last month’s court hearing) or ‘any means necessary’ (according to a police report written the day of the incident).”

      After tasing Smith, a DNA swab was taken without consent.

      “They have now given the Niagara Falls police discretion to Taser anybody anytime they think it’s reasonable,” Smith’s attorney said, according to a separate report in The Buffalo News. “Her decision says you can enforce a court order by force. If you extrapolate that, we no longer have to have child support hearings; you can just Taser the parent.”

      It’s always the way to go. Remover the rights for the “other” “bad guys” “criminal” etc, and people will never make a peep because they are too stupid or ignorant to think they’ll ever be the “other”.

      http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/unbelievable-by-digby-raw-story-reports.html

    4. #4 |  Ben | 

      Having now read the tobacco article, it’s clear that the government is doing it’s damnedest to maintain the status quo. It’s the resounding principal of most of these type of bills, keep the money flowing for the good ol’ boys and keep competetition.

    5. #5 |  MacK | 

      WOW! I’m amazed that the persons who broke into the med marijuana house were dressed as FBI agents, but that is not a real part of the story at all.

    6. #6 |  Marc | 

      Menino only opposed the M-16s after near unanimous condemnation of the plan. There is no way I would believe that the chief announced this without his Menino’s consent.

    7. #7 |  thomasblair | 

      My letter to the author of the tobacco article:

      Mr. Calfee,

      Your article of 3 June on the public health dangers of anti-smoking legislation is excellent. I applaud your efforts to shine light on this effort by Marlboro, their competitors, the public health agencies, et al, to reduce innovation in the area of smokeless tobacco. While I am a smoker and cannot claim disinterestedness, I have tried a number of the smokeless tobacco products (e.g. electronic cigarettes, gum, snus) and have found that they do not replicate the smoking experience with sufficient authenticity. I am certain that, given time, innovation will not cease and some as-yet-unknown brilliant mind will devise a way to replicate the smoking experience to the satisfaction of smokers so they can enjoy nicotine without the deleterious health effects of tobacco smoke.

      I raise a glass (and a smoke) to you for this well-written article.

      Thank you kindly,
      thomasblair

    8. #8 |  TomMil | 

      Count Dantes;

      I was gonna post that! That Judge issued an ex parte Order to have DNA taken a second time (they mishandled the first) then wrote an opinion saying that the use of electrical shock was okay in obtaining the DNA to cover her ass. She should be removed from the bench and disbarred. Won’t happen tho’, because the guy they did it to was really bad (he was) nevermind the precedent.

    9. #9 |  Tokin42 | 

      If we can’t go topless then the terrorists have won.

    10. #10 |  parse | 

      The public health community’s aversion to less unhealthy tobacco products really is killing people.

      Radley, this sounds like the kind of hyperbole often embraced by pro-regulation activists of various stripes. Do you have any evidence that the aversion to certain products actually causes death? You’ve haven’t even cited any behavior by the public health community (or even defined what “the public health community” might be), but you are claiming actually deaths result merely because of their attitude? You’re usually more precise in your rhetoric than you seem to be here.

    11. #11 |  thomasblair | 

      Ben,

      Are there any brands which are not “fire-safe”?

      American Spirit strikes me as such a brand.

    12. #12 |  Ben | 

      About the topless donut shop: “Oh, the huge mammaries.”

    13. #13 |  Brock | 

      What, exactly, did the boys in blue figure they were going to do with a post-taser cougar?

    14. #14 |  Ben | 

      Are there any brands which are not “fire-safe”?

      Not to my knowledge. If you look at the UPC on a pack, above it will have the letters “FSC” which stands for Fire Safe Cigarette. It has to do with how the paper’s made and what they put in the tobacco.

      As I understand it California-of-the-east-coast, New York, decided they needed to mandate a cigarette that wouldn’t start fires when dropped and the cigarette companies determined it’d be cheaper to make all FSCs than have two seperate lines.

    15. #15 |  JS | 

      Tom G “I haven’t read details on the trend of military offering free equipment to police but (1) how is this legal? and (2) it’s just plain crazy and should be forbidden by Congress if it IS legal.
      No military equipment should ever be given to civilian law enforcement. (Or sold to them, for that matter)”

      Exactly! And you just named the one authority capable of reigning the police in. But of course they don’t have the guts to do anything like forbidding the police from having military equipment because they are afraid of looking like don’t support our heros in blue.

      The blood of this nation is on our legislators hands almost as much as on the police’s.

    16. #16 |  Justin | 

      I am somewhat confused about this quote from the topless coffee shop arson article:

      “But I don’t live in a glasshouse, so I won’t throw any stones.”

      If you don’t live in a glasshouse, then technically you should be able to throw as many stones as you would like, correct?

    17. #17 |  Stephen | 

      I hate the new FSC crap. I smoke a lot and they make my chest hurt now.

      It’s just another way to force us to quit.

      Next it will probably be something like paraquat poisoning.

    18. #18 |  Scott | 

      And another point on the police tase man for DNA sample

      “Smith was handcuffed and sitting on the floor of Niagara Falls Police Headquarters when he was zapped with the 50,000- volt electronic stun gun after he insisted he would not give a DNA sample.”

      http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/692141.html

    19. #19 |  David Chesler | 

      Do FBI agents still dress like IBM employees and other MIB?

    20. #20 |  David Chesler | 

      The newsradio couldn’t get the Menino story right, and I was too busy to bother. They couldn’t figure out if these firearms were assault weapons or assault rifles or high powered or just “semi-automatics” as in “There is a proposal to arm the Boston police with semi-automatics” — they gave up their revolvers for Glocks some two decades ago. When someone writing a comment on the Boston Globe site asked what the cops were going to do with these firearms, someone noted that the 9/11 terrorists started in Boston — at which point I’m wondering if maybe the cops should have anti-aircraft guns so if they try it again they can shoot down the planes before they leave Boston airspace. Same question about the military-style guns in the Empire State Building — unless they’re expecting a battalion of German or Japanese soldiers are going to try to storm the building, what use is suppressive fire? At a certain point you realize it’s like trying to teach a pig to whistle.

    21. #21 |  Mattocracy | 

      I have a very bad feeling that if the drug war ends, then sexting will take its place as the new victimless crime our government goes retarded over. I just can’t believe that we have a reincarnated, neo-puritan group of people in this country that have found a new way to impose the archaic idea that consenting sex should be criminalized.

      I almost feel like the powers that be are thinking, “Well, shit. If gays are gonna get marriage rights then someone is gonna have to lose their rights to make up for it. I guess it’ll have to be minors.”

    22. #22 |  Nick T | 

      From the Menino article:

      “..questioned the reasoning behind arming district officers with M-16s when the city’s SWAT team – which responds to standoffs, hostage situations, and other major situations with the potential for violence – already has such weapons.”

      They seemed to leave out, “and service of warrants in marijuana cases where there is no chance of violence whatsoever.”

      Menino is terrible.

    23. #23 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Regarding the topless cafe, I haven’t read all the comments, so pardon me if someone has already mentioned this, but if the city is meeting on Monday to consider regulating “sexually oriented” businesses, I wonder if it might not be “convenient” for them that the place burned down, possibly allowing them, now, to outlaw such businesses completely.

    24. #24 |  Tom G | 

      Unfortunately, Mattocracy, most of minors’ civil liberties and rights have ALREADY been removed. They can’t give any pills to their friends, they can’t take prescribed medication on their own half the time, in most cases they can’t color their hair, and today I read about one teen being tased after refusing to stop talking on a cellphone in school (against the rules of course) and shoving the cop.
      Then there was the valedictorian whose planned speech was thrown out by the school administration who told her to rewrite it.

    25. #25 |  Tom G | 

      And don’t forget about the 13 year old girl who was strip searched over a mere ALLEGATION that she provided pills to another student.

    26. #26 |  MassHole | 

      Regarding the Boston rifle issue, I would like to point out that the City of Boston has an “assault weapons ban” that is more restrictive than the state laws. Citizens are not allowed to own AR clones in the city of Boston while legal in the rest of the state.

    27. #27 |  Aresen | 

      From the article on Boston:

      Facing sharp criticism, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday that he will not approve a Boston Police Department plan to arm neighborhood officers with semiautomatic rifles…

      I bet he won’t let them use their cruise missiles and Abrams tanks either. Goddam bleeding-heart librul.

      ;)

    28. #28 |  Aresen | 

      #13 | Brock | June 5th, 2009 at 8:46 am
      What, exactly, did the boys in blue figure they were going to do with a post-taser cougar?

      D’oh! Obviously the cougar would have learned its lesson and been tame and submissive.

      (If it had been a real one – maybe the police force should be buying it’s officers spectacles instead of tasers)

      /snark

    29. #29 |  Nick | 

      I don’t understand the objections to issuing police officers rifles. I understand Radley has objections to things which psychologically condition officers to act in a more militaristic fashion. Is that part or most of the objection?

      I’m on the same page as most of Balko’s readers WRT no knock raids and abusive cops. But it seems to me that our goal should be get rid of bad cops and prevent situations where good cops are put in a place where they’re likely to shoot honest citizens ( or even non violent criminals ), not limit police officers ability to take action when needed.

      I’m generally for the idea of issuing patrol rifles for several reasons. 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 ). Handguns are only effective for a few dozen yards, and even then are less accurate than long arms. In this case, at least, the police department was going to require officers issued the weapons to take a week long training class and all other officers to take a shorter class in case of emergency use.

      Finally, I think being on the officers’ side in issues like this helps to get away from the us vs them / cops vs cop haters mentality.

    30. #30 |  dave smith | 

      Anti Boob? BASTARDS!

    31. #31 |  Gonzo | 

      @Mattocracy and Tom G

      I agree, but the weird part, to me, is how completely willing kids are to be complicit in this crackdown, which i guess speaks to the effectiveness of its inculcation. A short anecdote:

      During the summer, the college where I work screens incoming freshmen for acceptance and placement. As part of my job, I read placement exams to determine which intro-level English class, if any, the student belongs in. The kids have 45 minutes to write a short essay arguing some position; it’s usually something hot-button, so we can ensure that they’ll, you know, have actually heard of it before.

      Anyhow, this year it was sexting. To make a long story short, in the last few weeks I’ve read just about every fascist, woefully totalitarian permutation of “we [children] need to be controlled!” This includes not only compulsory sentences and sex offender status for anyone and everyone involved, but more futuristic stuff: either the government, or the school, or the cops, or the cell phone companies, or any combination thereof, monitoring cellphones and only allowing “approved” pictures to be sent, special phones for children the beam all information into closely-observed, third-party databanks, and etc. Not to mention the morality classes, the D.A.R.E.-like programs, the “re-education.”

      And then the schizophrenia sets in. While all of them talk about the “evils” of this trend, most of them qualify it with something like “but it will be very hard to stop” and “kids will be kids.” It’s as if they’re trying valiantly to convince themselves of the evil they’ve been warned of, while at the same time becoming very afraid of their own bodies and their own sexuality, which leaves things pretty ripe for a save-us-from-ourselves attitude.

      Ah, well. Sorry about the rant. My colleagues and I have been pretty appalled for the last couple of weeks, though I’m looking forward to bringing the Reason piece to the next session for a little breath of fresh air.

    32. #32 |  Aresen | 

      @ Nick

      First, we are talking semi-automatics – which are true combat weapons and not at all suitable for situations where numerous innocent bystanders may be nearby. I know they can be set to single shot, but the temptation will be to use all the firepower available.

      Second, rifles in general are distance weapons, unhandy in close quarters (unless you want to add bayonets ;) ). Given the general weapons ability that police officers have been demonstrating lately, do you really want them trying to hit something at 30 yards+?

    33. #33 |  Tom G | 

      Nick – My objection is to the notion that MILITARY grade equipment is okay to issue to civilian law enforcement (who I might remind you have a legal monopoly on the use of force to keep order). The purpose(s) of the armed forces are rather different than those of state and local police units.
      The whole point of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was to keep military personnel away from law enforcement duties within the borders of the U.S. Until recently, it was never questioned.
      So it seems to me only logical that equipment intended for military use (i.e. on battlefields) should ALSO be kept away from police officers.

    34. #34 |  Tomcatshanger | 

      @ Aresen

      All rifles are true combat rifles, the muzzle loader, the lever action, the bolt action, the semi-auto, and the fully automatic rifles are all combat rifles.

      I understand you don’t like armed folks, but a semi-auto rifle is no more or less a weapon of war than a bolt action rifle or a revolver.

      And then it seems you don’t know what semi-auto means. Semi-automatics are not fully-automatic. They can’t be set on single shot, they ARE single shot. There is no full auto selection on a Semi-Auto.

      Rifles are great for shots beyound 25 yards, and they are great at close quarters, which is why SWAT teams practice with them.

      It seems you do not really understand firearms in general.

    35. #35 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Gonzo, your post is so depressing I could just kill myself. Again.

    36. #36 |  Tomcatshanger | 

      @ Tom G

      Small arms, especially rifles, are not only military equipment.

      Should the police not have body armor? The military uses it.

      Shoudl LEO’s not have radio’s? The military uses it.

      LEO’s have been using rifles, even actual light machine guns and sub machine guns, for over 70 years in this country. In other words, they have been using them for as long as the military has been using them.

      And yet some folks address Police agencies issueing rifles as if it just started happening.

      Remember Bonnie and Claude? They used rifles, shotguns, and machineguns, and so did the police.

    37. #37 |  Aresen | 

      @ Thomascatshanger # 34

      I’ll plead guilty to firearms ignorance (and sincere thanks for correcting my misunderstandings), but not guilty to your charge of “not liking armed folks”.

      It’s “armed governments” I don’t like.

      As one friend of mine used to put it: “The government should never be better armed than the people.”

    38. #38 |  Aresen | 

      “anti-boob” terrorists?

      I guess Congress has a right to be worried about those.

    39. #39 |  Mario | 

      Justin, I believe you’re right. If you don’t live in a glass house, the admonition against “throwing stones” doesn’t seem to apply.

      On a related note, however, if you don’t live in a glass house, there’s no reason not to go topless.

    40. #40 |  Cynical in CA | 

      “Medical marijuana grower in Seattle gets robbed, calls cops, then gets robbed a second time by the city government.”

      Didn’t you read the comments from the post about the homeless sidewalk vendor in SF yesterday? It’s not robbing when the government does it. It’s called “taxing.” And apparently it’s OK.

    41. #41 |  Tomcatshanger | 

      @ Aresen

      I can understand that completely. I’m not a fan of swat raids or police armored vehicles.

      But I’m just fine with them having the same rifles that I own and that very many of my friends own. It doesn’t scare me in the least, maybe because I understand the actual capabilities of those rifles.

      I oppose Police agencies, but not the citizenry, owning belt fed machineguns because I cannot think of a Police use for a light or medium machinegun. But I believe if the need arose, the police should be able to deputize members of the public that DO have belt fed machineguns.

      Not that that can happen thanks to the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. But I still don’t like LEO’s having true machineguns.

    42. #42 |  perlhaqr | 

      (Contacted for this article, Laurie’s father would only say on the record, “This country has laws in place to protect children. Those laws need to be enforced, and parents need to pursue those laws to the fullest extent to protect their children.”)

      Ok, he insisted. Charge his damned daughter with a felony too, and see what he thinks about stringent application of stupid laws, then.

    43. #43 |  Cynical in CA | 

      “But I don’t live in a glasshouse, so I won’t throw any stones.”

      “If you don’t live in a glasshouse, then technically you should be able to throw as many stones as you would like, correct?”

      Where in the world did anyone get the idea that it’s OK to throw stones in ANY house, whether built of glass or not? If I caught my kid throwing stones in my (non-glass) house, I’d whip his butt.

    44. #44 |  Mattocracy | 

      I’m reconsidering my outrage about this kid getting locked up sending pics of this naked freshman. I suppose the initial picture message between said girl and dude wasn’t criminal, but when he forwarded that picture to friends, he crossed the line. I say that because the girl never consented to latter activity.

      But still, that should not be considered a felony crime, or a crime as all. At the end of the day, this girl and her family were embarrassed and that’s a bout it. No rape, not theft of tangible or intellectual property, no physical assault. Merely embarrassing someone shouldn’t be a crime. If it is, then we could have had our moms and dads locked up when we were kids.

    45. #45 |  Tom G | 

      Tomcatshanger, @36 –

      My objection, which I thought was fairly clear, is to equipment that originally was issued to military ever being passed down to police afterwards.
      I know that police have legitimate uses for body armor and radios.
      (Perhaps if there were no victimless crime laws, the body armor would be less necessary ?). I guess I figured that the police standard for these types of equipment was (hopefully) not quite the same level as the military standard for similar -not identical – equipment. Their job requirements and duties are DEFINITELY not the same.

    46. #46 |  Ben | 

      Ok, he insisted. Charge his damned daughter with a felony too, and see what he thinks about stringent application of stupid laws, then.

      I agree, if you’re gonna charge the boy with posession, you gotta charge her with production.

    47. #47 |  Tomcatshanger | 

      @ Tom G

      You object to the recycling of rifles by government agencies?

      They have legitimate uses for rifles. The same uses they have for handguns and shotguns, for individual officers to project force in the exercise of their duties.

      A rifle is merely more effective in certain circumstances.

      A removal of all laws concerning all of the victimless crimes would truly be a boon for society. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

      Yes, their jobs are different, but their equipment is often very similar. A cop doesn’t wear camouflage, doesn’t ride in armored vehicles, and doesn’t have air support on tap. But he does ride around in vehicles, he does wears personal armor, he does have a radio, and he carries firearms.

      Soldiers and Marines have handguns, why not object to that? The military uses shotguns as well.

      A semi-auto rifle provides more hit capicity at longer ranges than a shotgun or handgun (25 to 35 yards or so). This is not a bad thing. Being able to hit their target with fewer shots means less stray rounds, and if the cop needs to shoot someone, chances are they aren’t shooting a prostitute or a drug user buying from an entrapment exercise, they are engaging an active shooter with gun fire in order to stop the threat.

      That’s not a bad thing any way you cut it.

    48. #48 |  JS | 

      Tomcatshanger “Yes, their jobs are different, but their equipment is often very similar. A cop doesn’t wear camouflage, doesn’t ride in armored vehicles, and doesn’t have air support on tap.”

      I see what you’re saying but they do have amored vehicles now and they do have air support on tap. I think that was the original point-that the line between the two has and is being ever more blurred. That’s why cops now refer to the rest of us as “civilians” (as if they weren’t civilians) and why they all seem to wear the military style haircut and the whole “us versus them” mentality. This erodes at least the purpose of Posse Comitatus. Maybe that explains why we are now the biggest prison state in the world as well.

    49. #49 |  Bill | 

      #31 Gonzo, and Dave K., don’t give up completely. Yesterday, I picked my 13 year old son up from school, and he informed me that in one of his classes they’d been assigned to write an impromptu persuasive essay “…so I wrote mine on why marijuana should be legalized,” he said. He told me that when he handed it in, his teacher looked at it, then asked him, “Barack Obama really smoked pot?”

      “Yes,” he replied.

      “Interesting,” she said.

    50. #50 |  Bill | 

      #47 Tomcatshanger, unfortunately, more and more you do see cops, particularly the SWAT types, wearing camouflage, though it’s pretty ridiculous-or scary, depending on your perspective-since they’re typically standing on a sidewalk, not in some jungle. They seem to be fetishizing the “tough” military look.

    51. #51 |  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.

    52. #52 |  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.

    53. #53 |  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”.

    54. #54 |  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.

    55. #55 |  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.

    56. #56 |  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.

    57. #57 |  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.

    58. #58 |  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.

    59. #59 |  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.

    60. #60 |  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.

    61. #61 |  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.

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