A. Barton Hinkle has a good column on police militarization today, and not just because he quotes me (though that helps!).
There is one point Hinkle concedes that I’m not sure he should: I’ve still yet to see any empirical data to support the contention that criminals in the U.S. are arming themselves with more powerful weapons—at least in significant numbers. I’ve heard plenty of anecdotes to that effect from police officials while justifying their new APV or armament of military-grade machine guns. But nothing in the way of data.
In fact, in Overkill (see pages 27-28), I noted that the only two studies available at the time—one done in 1995 by the National Institute for Justice and one published in 1991 by Dave Kopel and Eric Morgan—came to the opposite conclusion. Both those studies are pretty dated now, but I’ve yet to see anything newer to support the broad contention that criminals in the U.S. are moving toward higher-powered weapons. But I also haven’t tracked the issue as closely as I did while I was researching that paper. If anyone knows of something more recent, please send it my way, or throw up a link in the comments.