Sheriff Joe’s War: Now More War-ry!

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The Arizona Republic:

In a stretch of barren desert alongside Interstate 8 near Gila Bend that has become a corridor for human and drug smuggling, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and about 100 men staged a crime-suppression operation Thursday.

Arpaio brought with him a belt-fed .50-caliber machine gun that can shoot accurately up to a mile as a display of the kind of force he would use if anyone hurts a deputy.

“I am trying to send a message to Mexico,” he said. “We will not take anyone hurting our deputies. We will fight back.”

No word if Arpaio also brought his armored personnel carrier, which has been known to careen out of control and smash into lowly citizen automobiles.

Arpaio isn’t the only sheriff sporting a .50-caliber machine gun. As i wrote in 2008, Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff Leon Lott has one too, mounted to Lott’s own APC. He calls it “The Peacemaker.” I consulted an expert on the appropriateness of the weapon:

Charles Earl Barnett, a U.S. Marines veteran and retired police major who has served on several United Nations and NATO military and peacekeeping missions, says a .50-caliber machine gun is “completely inappropriate” for domestic police work. It “causes mass death and destruction,” Barnett says. “It’s indiscriminate. I can’t think of a possible scenario where it would be appropriate.”

I didn’t specifically ask him at the time, but I’m guessing Barnett would not be inclined to make an exception for “shooting at Mexicans.”

(Hat tip: Say Uncle)

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41 Responses to “Sheriff Joe’s War: Now More War-ry!”

  1. #1 |  Matt | 

    ‘Once, on some history channel or other on the cable, I watched a US Army infantryman c. late-90′s describing the efficacy of “Ma Deuce”: the famous Browning M2 machine gun in .50 caliber. In precisely clear, almost mechanically detached terms, he pointed out what a great weapon is the M2, memorably stating, “If you stand in the middle of a downtown city street and look around, you will see no structure that will protect you from this weapon.”‘
    – Billy Beck:
    http://www.two–four.net/comments.php?id=P2783_0_1_0

    It horrifies me that a man like MegaloJoe commands such a weapon with impunity.

  2. #2 |  matt | 

    The 50 cal has nothing resembling a safety on it and can easily go off… These fucks are worthless..

  3. #3 |  Will Grigg | 

    “We will not take anyone hurting our deputies. We will fight back.”

    Sooooo…. The REALLY important thing is to ensure that the costumed tax-feeders are protected. That’s why Dimebag Joe hauls out the heavy artillery — not to protect mere Mundanes from criminal violence, but because Officer Safety is always and ever the highest priority.

    Granted, this was a sterile publicity stunt, as is pretty much everything else ever done by that oleaginous fascist. Still, there’s something revealing in Arpaio’s rationale for this adolescent display.

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    It horrifies me that a man like MegaloJoe commands such a weapon with impunity.

    Nah, he’s probably the perfect person to have it since he would never have the balls to actually use it.

  5. #5 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    “…a .50-caliber machine gun is ‘completely inappropriate’ for domestic police work.”

    Actually, it’s totally appropriate if you consider the public you’ve sworn to protect worthy of wholesale slaughter.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If you want a little perspective of just how much of an uphill battle you’re facing when it comes to changing attitudes about abuse of power by police, all you need do is remember that Sheriff Joe is the common person’s darling. While most people probably don’t care one way other other (which is precisely what makes them dangerous) those who support Joe far outnumber those who question his methods. The only way he’ll ever lose his job is if he kills the wrong person and the video gets distributed on the web before he has the chance to stop it.

  7. #7 |  Juan Gonzalez | 

    I really don’t think the Sheriff needs a 50 cal, and I too think he should be just as concerned about citizens lives as he is his deputies. In Joe’s defense, a Pinal Co. Deputy was shot 2 months ago by smugglers just a few miles west of there. Almost every big city police department has the same problems Maracopa has with overkill, and union officers acting above the law. Sheriff Joe’s real sin is that he is trying to single-handedly cut off the fresh supply of Democrat voters in Arizona. Be honest folks, he may be the poster child for the tough-guy lawman that bothers folks trying to sneak a joint now and then, but what bugs you most is that he’s roundin’ up Mezkins, and keeping ‘merica safe!

  8. #8 |  matt | 

    What bugs me most is that joe is wasting tax payer dollars on inefficient law enforcement while his officers believe they are above the law. Joe seems more interested in making a big name for himself then actually protecting the people he was hired to protect…

  9. #9 |  Ray | 

    I had a chance to sit around with Jan Brewer and some other local officials about 9 years ago, and they were running Joe down pretty badly. Mainly about what a prima donna he is, and how much money he wastes.

    (I’m a big nobody, but they didn’t know that because I was dressed as nice as they were, and I kept my mouth shut.) I asked Jan when I had a chance why they didn’t do something about old Joe, and her answer was pretty much what has already been said.

    That he’s so popular with an unthinking public that thinks he’s “tough” that they can’t politically oppose him. So he stomps his feet and gets his way.

  10. #10 |  Web Filter | 

    That’s quite a mighty machine gun. Let’s hope that peaceful solutions will be explored before this beast is used.

  11. #11 |  Jeremy | 

    matt, well said.

    If the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Dept. were just putting rapists and muggers on chain gangs or even looking for illegal immigrants (yes, I do disagree with Mr. Balko on this issue), I admittedly wouldn’t have much of a problem with Arpaio, but there’s more to it than that, something which bounces off the heads of his defenders.

  12. #12 |  James K | 

    Um, isn’t the .50 cal an anti-materiel weapon? I was under the impression it technically wasn’t supposed to be used on people. It’s certainly overkill for that purpose, even if you’re firing at armoured soldiers with rifle inserts.

    On a lighter note it kinda reminds me of this, do you think Sheriff Joe can do a Russian accent?

  13. #13 |  WOODBUTCHER | 

    they sell a nice 50.cal sniper rifle for civilian use with a proper scope on it it is very accurate i would not be suprised to see old joe on the buisness end of one of these weapons some day if he continiues playing cops and robbers in the desert. Just because he is on the USA side of the border does not make him or his ilk immune to cartels seeking vengence like they do with govt or local officals in mexico . It would be a real shame if his testicals wound up in a jar on some drug runners mantle while the rest of him is buried in a unmarked grave in the middle of no where .This type of BS from local cops is bordering on vio;ating the posse commitatus act which is being violated nation wide already so maybe its just a way to get the locals used to being policed by nat gaurd or marines in the near future

  14. #14 |  JOR | 

    Well, in terms of doctrine, equipment, and even personnel, we are already being policed by the military anyway.

  15. #15 |  ktc2 | 

    JOR,

    No the rules of engagement for the military are much stricter than for police.

  16. #16 |  Juan Gonzalez | 

    Woodbutcher sounds like you’re routing for the Sheriff’s death. You piece of shit!

  17. #17 |  Toastrider | 

    Google ‘Only Ones’, Juan.

    While a great deal of fury has been expended over Arizona’s immigration enforcement law (most of it by imbeciles), Brewer IS doing it the right way; taking legal and public steps to correct what she sees as a problem.

    Arpaio’s grandstanding may play well to the masses, even those who have a legitimate beef, but I have a bad feeling it’s gonna come back to haunt him.

  18. #18 |  Charlie O | 

    Joe Arpaio’s possession of a .50 caliber machine gun, in my opinion, takes the wind out of the anti-gun argument that “mere citizens” don’t need AK-47′s, SKS’s or other so-called “assault weapons.”

    And Juan, the mind’s picture is of Joe Arpaio’s nutsack in a jar is a rather pleasing one.

  19. #19 |  Bob | 

    Jesus H. Christ! That thing actually DOES have a belt fed Browning 50 mounted on it.

    I wonder if any of his goons even know how to use it, or if they bother to actually bring ammo with them? I would hope the answer to both questions is “No”. Fuck, why not bring TOW missiles as well? Set up a minefield in the desert?

    Can you imagine the fallout from actually using the thing? “Clunker Pickup truck filled with Illegal Immigrants destroyed by Sheriff’s 50 caliber machine gun mounted on Armored APC” followed by quotes like “We think there were 12 people in the truck. We found 24 hands, and it’s usually 2 per.” and “They were coming right at us! We feared for our safety and had no choice but to fire.”

    Explain to me again why ANY civilian Law Enforcement Agency needs an APC to begin with? Beuler? Anyone?

  20. #20 |  Charles | 

    Here is a video of a .50 cal sniper rifle hitting a target 100 yards away, rebounding, and hitting the shooter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7KOikEY-H8

    The idea of those retards having one, it’s just terrifying.

  21. #21 |  matt | 

    Some peeps actually used the M2 browning machine gun as a sniper rifle back in the vietnam era

  22. #22 |  matt | 

    Carlos Hathcock the most famous user..

  23. #23 |  Mattocracy | 

    I think its important to remember the differences between Joe Arpaio, the controversial figure versus Joe Arpaio, the tyrant. His sheriff’s dept is responsible for known beatings of people proven innocent of any crime, the deaths of others in his custody, and the use of brutal tactics in unwarranted situations. He knows this, supports it, makes excuses for it. This makes him a monster.

    The machine guns, the pink underwear at the jail, etc are basically publicity stunts. As ridiculous as a .50 caliber machine is for police work, the real problems are the scenarios above. Those are crimes that the majority of people find indefensible and will turn the tide against him.

  24. #24 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Um, isn’t the .50 cal an anti-materiel weapon? I was under the impression it technically wasn’t supposed to be used on people.

    I wasn’t shooting at people, Sarge. I was shooting at thier uniforms, which are enemy war materiel.

  25. #25 |  SJE | 

    As someone from a military family, and with a colleague who was a marine sniper firing .5 cal sniper rifles, I can tell a few nasty facts about this round.

    1. It was developed for destroying machines like trucks, planes etc (anti-materiel), not people. Antipersonel rounds are approx .22 (5.56mm), while 0.32 (7.56mm) are considered “heavy.” The 0.5cal (12.5mm) is another level entirely.

    2. The U.S. military uses 0.5 for snipers because it is highly accurate, with kills well beyond 1000m (I think the record is well over 2000m). One shot kills.

    3. If a 0.5 doesnt hit you, it can cut you just going near your skin because of the pressure wave (according to my ex-marine buddy).

    4. Body armor etc will not have much effect against a 0.5cal. This thing will go into engine blocks etc. As one of the earlier posts said, you are no where safe from this thing.

    5. The “collateral damage” is high. It is not just the size of the bullet, but how much propellant you use. A lot of pistols use large calliber bullets, but not a lot of propellant. This ensures that they kill, but do not pass through the body and kill other people. There are 0.5 cal pistols. Not so with the typical 0.5cal machine gun.

  26. #26 |  SJE | 

    Doh, that should have been 7.62, not 7.56!

  27. #27 |  Dave Krueger | 

    And it should have been .30″, not .32″. :-)

  28. #28 |  iggum | 

    “Arpaio brought with him a belt-fed .50-caliber machine gun that can shoot accurately up to a mile”

    Bullshit.

  29. #29 |  EH | 

    #28 | iggum | July 17th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    “Arpaio brought with him a belt-fed .50-caliber machine gun that can shoot accurately up to a mile”

    Bullshit.

    Exactly. Arpaio is as likely to use that gun as an 8 year old is likely to drink the bottle of vodka he picks up and mocks the adults at his parents’ cocktail party. All bullies are wimps.

  30. #30 |  Chris Mallory | 

    He better make sure his armorer knows what he is doing. The headspacing gets off and this can happen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQep2nWGfBw

  31. #31 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Accurate to a mile isn’t bullshit. From an Army site:

    What is the maximum range of the .50 Cal?
    6,764meters

    What is the maximum effective range of the .50 Cal against point and area targets?

    * Point targets Single shot- 1,500 meters
    * Area shot- 1,830 meters

  32. #32 |  Phelps | 

    If the Sheriff’s department has a legitimate use for a Ma Deuce, then I have a legitimate use for a Ma Deuce.

  33. #33 |  JOR | 

    #15,

    Well, they aren’t mowing us down with gunships and unmanned drones. Or bombing whole neighborhoods with aircraft and guns. (Yet.)

  34. #34 |  TO | 

    Arpio’s trying to “send a message to Mexico” ? Huh? Is he planning to declare war on Mexico or something?

  35. #35 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Accurate to a mile isn’t bullshit. From an Army site:

    Bullshit. Caliber is NOT the only factor in accuracy. There is a substantial difference between a .50 caliber sniper rifle and a belt loaded .50 caliber truck mount (meant for raining indiscriminate death).

    Of course, accuracy only comes from the shooter. Now, who thinks the fucktards at the local police station are stable enough to have one of these?

  36. #36 |  Big_Texan | 

    Man, I can’t believe I missed this last week. Anyway, shooting anything larger than a .45 at a human target is against the Geneva Conventions. you have to specifically state that you were shooting at ‘equipment’ when your firing a .50. Of course uniforms and canteens count as ‘equipment,’ but still, in a civilian setting? I think it’s pretty sick that the military has to make up an excuse to use them on soldiers, but the civilian police force can use them with impunity.

  37. #37 |  albatross | 

    Isn’t the same thing true of hollowpoints, though? Police and civilians can use them, but the military must use FMJ rounds, right?

  38. #38 |  EH | 

    Of course, accuracy only comes from the shooter. Now, who thinks the fucktards at the local police station are stable enough to have one of these?

    Over at Balko’s Mehserle article at Reason, a police trainer has weighed in repeatedly about the poor firearms training he routinely provides to trainees, so the probability that this gun can be fired competently by Joe’s minions is just about zero.

  39. #39 |  Big_Texan | 

    @ #37 Yes, you’re absolutely right. If I remember correctly the entire reason for the Geneva Conventions the first time around was to outlaw the use of Dum-Dum bullets. They made from very soft lead that expands much like a hollow point.

  40. #40 |  Rob | 

    Waste of taxpayer money to be buying these real life GI Joe toys for officers of the “peace”. Maybe they thought it was “piece” as in a giant hand cannon.

    Oh wait, this is probably payed for by the laws that allow police to keep drug money. The ones where they get to take the money and property before a conviction. I guess that makes it alright then.

  41. #41 |  wtfo | 

    An M2 .50 is a more than adequate response in a remote area to the threat of hostile rifle fire coming from vehicles. Has that been known to happen on the border? Yes. Are they likely to run into it? No, not at all, really. The M2 is a publicity stunt, it doesn’t do much for them them that a handful of rifles wouldn’t.

    Some people like to downplay the trouble on the border; those who haven’t lived there really don’t get it. Personally, I’m glad that I’ve moved just about as far away from there as I can get. When people are pissed off, scared, and victimized, they’ll either take the matter into their own hands, or vote for someone who will, and this is what you get.

    “Man, I can’t believe I missed this last week. Anyway, shooting anything larger than a .45 at a human target is against the Geneva Conventions. ”

    Complete and utter nonsense.

    “3. If a 0.5 doesnt hit you, it can cut you just going near your skin because of the pressure wave (according to my ex-marine buddy).”

    Also nonsense. Both of these old wives tales are common throughout the military.

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