As Police Get More Militarized, Bill In Congress Would Make Owning Body Armor Punishable By Up To 10 Years In Prison

from the only-the-police-can-be-militarized dept

We’ve been writing an awful lot lately about the militarization of police, but apparently some in Congress want to make sure that the American public can’t protect themselves from a militarized police. Rep. Mike Honda (currently facing a reasonably strong challenger for election this fall) has introduced a bizarre bill that would make it a crime for civilians to buy or own body armor. The bill HR 5344 is unlikely to go anywhere, but violating the bill, if it did become law, would be punishable with up to ten years in prison. Yes, TEN years. For merely owning body armor.

Honda claims that the bill is designed to stop “armored assailants” whom he claims are “a trend” in recent years. Perhaps there wouldn’t be so much armor floating around out there if we weren’t distributing it to so many civilian police forces… Not surprisingly, the very same police who have been getting much of this armor are very much in favor of making sure no one else gets it:

Honda said it has been endorsed by law enforcement organizations including the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, according to Honda.

Santa Clara County’s District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Sheriff Laurie Smith and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Sheriff Gregory Ahern also attended today’s news conference, held at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in San Jose.

Santa Clara police Chief Michael Sellers and Milpitas police Chief Steve Pangelinan also attended the news conference.

That all sounds great. But when you read stories about police shooting unarmed teenagers, pointing guns at protesters and reporters, even threatening to kill or shoot them, isn’t there at least a reasonable argument that people who are doing perfectly legal things might want to protect themselves from out of control, militarized police officers too? Owning a gun is perfectly legal, but owning a “ballistic resistant” shield gets you 10 years in jail?

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “As Police Get More Militarized, Bill In Congress Would Make Owning Body Armor Punishable By Up To 10 Years In Prison”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
141 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Americans should actually be grateful the Constitution itself supports their right to own firearms and that there are organized groups actively lobbying to maintain it. This is one more sign that the Government has gone rogue. The first thing wannabe dictatorships do is to prevent the citizens from acquiring means to defend themselves.

And obviously this is based on nothing but his own, factless claims.

weisshaupt says:

Re: Re: Kings

No Washington didn’t declare himself King– which if you knew any history at all would make you realize he was the one of very few exceptions to the rule. Washington’s beliefs were also in line with modern day Conservatives and libertarians. Its the Democrats and leftists who have a desire for unbridled power, grinding other people under their heels, and a general belief that citizen are bought and paid for slaves of their agenda and subject to a weaponized government to keep them there.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: They all want to be Furor.

I somehow suspect that Washington was not pro-torture, pro-IP-maximalism and pro-police state.

Twenty-first century Republicans are.

Twenty-first century Democrats are.

Twenty-first century Independents are GO AHEAD, THROW YOUR VOTE AWAY

None of this sounds anywhere near “I don’t want to be king.” They want to be better than king. Unquestioned ruler of the world.

Best imagined in Kodos’ voice.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Kings

Oh yes, because it was the Dems and Libs that brought inthe Patriot act, over-powered the NSA, and started two wars that lead to all this surplus military equipment floating about?

“Oh noes, it’s all Obama’s fault, he took the troops out of their Asian land wars, it’s his fault all this military equipment is available!”

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Various state and local governments have done this with gas masks, also. They’ve made possessing and/or wearing a gas mask illegal because they started to get protesters showing up to demonstrations wearing them and the cops’ tear gas had no effect on them.

The sum total of these kinds of laws is the government is basically saying to the citizens, “Not only do we have the right to fuck you up, but if we decide you need to be fucked up, it’s illegal for you to do anything to prevent it.”

That One Guy (profile) says:

So if his justification for this is ‘armored assailants’, one would assume they are, I don’t know, maybe breaking other laws while ‘armored’, laws already on the books that can be used to charge them? If someone is already breaking laws, and serious enough laws that they expect to come under fire, I don’t think an additional 10 years, on top of what is likely a good string of other, quite serious charges, is going to be any sort of deterrent to them.

They are willing to put themselves in a position where they expect to be shot, I don’t think the threat of a little extra prison time is going to matter to much to someone like that, especially considering it would come down to ‘wear body armor, get shot, survive, get additional 10 years’ or ‘don’t wear body armor, get shot, die, not have to worry about prison’.

Adding a prison term for merely owning body armor, just because criminals might use it, is pretty much like adding a prison sentence for those found in possession of a gun, or a car, or any number of other items, because they might be used by a criminal, and I hope someone points this out when the bill is being debated.

Digger says:

Better ways to word the law..

Use of Body Armor during the act of committing a crime will double the minimum / maximum jail terms, time for parole, fines, etc.

This will apply to police officers, federal agents of any existing or future defined agencies in a further doubling of the punishment, as law enforcement officials are there to uphold the law, not violate it.

As part of the bill it should also state that all criminal punishments when applied to law enforcement / spy agencies will be quadrupled due to their roles in society.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Better ways to word the law..

Another lover of words… you are no better than they.

Adding more garbage to an already way over garbaged up penal code benefits no one.

We have a court and jury for this very reason, so that complex and idiotic laws can be avoided in writing… as a nation we have long since forgotten and neglected our duties as fully informed jurors!

Digger says:

Re: Re: Better ways to word the law..

I didn’t say that it was the best way to deal with it, only that it was a better way than making body armor illegal to begin with.

Making rogue agencies and law enforcement personnel subject to quadrupling of all penalties for breaking the law is the first step to reigning in the abuses by law enforcement.

Making it a crime for cops to overlook other cops abuses would also help.

Just like the U.S.A.G. believes that noone in the country has any rights as laid out in the Bill of Rights, because each does not say that we actually have them, only that congress may pass no law to restrict them, we have to specifically call out that law enforcement / spy agencies are not only NOT exempt, but are subject to even higher punishments for the violations becomes a must.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Better ways to word the law..

I won’t disagree with it being a better way when compared to the bill, I just think we have already gone past the point of no return and that adding anything more is pretty much pointless now.

You can be arrested under a litany of charges just walking across the road, not really even seeing the value of adding one iota of extra just become someone was wearing something they didn’t like. When someone assaults someone we already have more than enough laws to take care of the penal code part.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Better ways to word the law..

Making rogue agencies and law enforcement personnel subject to quadrupling of all penalties for breaking the law is the first step to reigning in the abuses by law enforcement.

I think, before that, we must make them subject to existing penalties and punishment. We can talk about heightening the penalties later; it doesn’t matter how steep they are when the system is rigged to avoid enforcing them.

Lord of the Files says:

Re: Re: Better ways to word the law..

Having served on a jury recently, my opinion is that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s far from perfect and as an idea, it was merely the best option at the top of a whole list of other questionable ideas. Not perfect, but all we have… for now. The only thing better would probably be the ability to read someones thoughts and even that would be fraught with problems. Welcome to an imperfect, unfair and unsympathetic universe. Enjoy your stay.

Digger says:

Re: Better ways to word the law..

Addendum: Being accosted by overzealous law enforcement personnel whether local, county, state or federal for wearing the body armor will not be considered an act of committing a crime for any reason whatsoever for the person wearing the armor.

Overzealous law enforcement agents accosting wearers of body armor will be considered a crime, punishment will include a minimum 6 month unpaid suspension, remedial training on what the Constitution and Amendments actually mean and what officers can and cannot do.

Second offense will be permanent ban from law enforcement anywhere within the country and 10 years in prison.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Better ways to word the law..

If only….or maybe you should filter the idiots out like we do here in my particular canadian province (they’re not mounties, mounties have no juridiction here). Make em go 3 years to college with mandatory philosophy (3 classes), french or english (4 classes), french or english (2 classes), 3 phys ed classes (we had a huge amount of sports / training to pick from, I relaxed in my third and last one and picked Golf), 2 classes unrelated to what they are studying for “I picked Interactions And Communications and Basic Civilian Law”, and they also have calculus 1 part of their program here.

Takes out a lot of dumbasses who try “Police Technics” only to fail academia if they ever get there after the 3 years or failing Calculus 1 over and over…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Better ways to word the law..

Yeah I’ve seen a documentary a long while ago early 2000’s certainly, after a medium length questionnaire he was refused highway patrol because he scored too high in IQ and would be bored on the job….making him less paranoid? I dunno the logicl.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Better ways to word the law..

Kinda baffled Mounties aren’t filtered out by any pre-academia education in the 7 provinces with them as the law outside cities (we dont have county cops anywhere). Sometimes there’s Mixed Regional Squads for some big drug things but they get disbanded once the job is done.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Better ways to word the law..

The guy putting on body armor and loading up his fully-automatic AK-47 before walking into a bank probably doesn’t care if you double the 2 life sentences he is going to get IF he survives an encounter with police.

Your plan as well as an outright ban on body armor is somewhat meaningless to the people you are trying to stop.

However, your plan may be very effective against armored car drivers that get a speeding ticket.

Anonymous Coward says:

Public Notice...

Someone really, I mean just really needs to get up on public TV and say this…

“Those of you in government, whom would attempt to suppress our Freedoms by trying to ‘control’ guns, ammunition, or those tools that allow us to defend ourselves from enemies both foreign AND domestic… WILL BE! First on the list of people to be shot dead ON SIGHT if we decide to take up arms against our oppressors!”

Anonymous Coward says:

the best thing would be for Honda to be put in a situation whereby his person could be damaged because of police behavior, even if only a spectator or passerby and see how he feels then. it’s all too easy for someone who has never been in a violent confrontational situation to say what people can and cannot do to protect themselves, especially when the harm comes from those who are supposed to be doing the protecting!

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They will come after guns next.

Actually it would make a lot more sense to go after guns first. If the US were to getr out from the delusion that carrying a gun in any way improves your personal safety then you could maybe have sensible gun control (not outlawing guns for hunting target shooting etc) and an unarmed police force. Then the question of body armour would be moot.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: The problem with distrust.

It’s a grand fallacy to pretend that civilians without a badge are any less trustworthy than civilians with a badge.

It’s also dangerous to the idea of democracy.

If “they can’t be trusted” then this is a level of general contempt that bleeds into everything including universal sufferage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Richard, you are delusional
— If the US were to getr out from the delusion that carrying a gun in any way improves your personal safety then you could maybe have sensible gun control

My brother used his legal concealed gun to defend himself when two thugs robed him at gunpoint. All three are still alive and the two thugs are serving 20 years with no option of early release.

Had he not defended himself with his gun he would likely be dead and those thugs still running the streets.

The bad thing about the cops, when you REALLY need them they are 5 minutes away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“If the US were to getr out from the delusion that carrying a gun in any way improves your personal safety…”

The data indicates this is far from a delusion, but calling it a delusion is a meme from those who support gun control. Large scale statistical studies show a correlation between less restrictive gun laws and lower violent crime rates. For example, see John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime…” It’s worth noting that Lott was in favor of gun control prior to conducting his study of data from nearly all U.S. counties over a multi-year period. In contrast, the studies cited to support gun control are based on much more limited data.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Then how come every other developed country in the world manages just fine without armed civilians, and even with mostly unarmed police? How come Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the UK aren’t armed battlegrounds with hordes of armed criminals going all Mad Max on poor underarmed civilians and police?

When you are the outlier, you have to look at what your problem is. In this case, the “I’m-compensating-for-something” bunch don’t want anything that’ll make their premature ejaculations even more ineffective…

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Then how come every other developed country in the world manages just fine without armed civilians, and even with mostly unarmed police?”

They are welcome to their culture and governments. In the U.S., you are responsible for you and your family’s safety. If you want to walk around unarmed in a society that doesn’t protect it’s borders without a gun, you have the freedom to do so, but please don’t tell me how and with what means I can protect me and mine.

Reference:
Barillari v. City of Milwaukee, 533 N.W.2d 759 (Wis. 1995).
Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982).
DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189 (1989).
Ford v. Town of Grafton, 693 N.E.2d 1047 (Mass. App. 1998).
Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1981).

“How come Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the UK aren’t armed battlegrounds with hordes of armed criminals going all Mad Max on poor underarmed civilians and police?”

Is this happening in the U.S.? I realize we have some urban centers that are dangerous as hell, isn’t that proportionally a very small segment of the U.S.? Most areas that I’ve lived in that allow open carry and/or have a responsible community of concealed carrying adults, were the safest and most polite places I’ve ever lived.

“hen you are the outlier, you have to look at what your problem is. In this case, the “I’m-compensating-for-something” bunch don’t want anything that’ll make their premature ejaculations even more ineffective…”

Every “issue” will have it’s extremists. You do have your zombie Apocalypse, tank driving, body armor wearing people out there… no doubt, but as long as their not breaking the law.. who cares?.. Most of your “gun nuts” have a few pistols, maybe a rifle or two, maybe even a dreaded “assault” rifle for showing off and shooting at the range… Most of us are responsible, contributing members of society that are either sport shooters (like myself) or trying to protect their families.

You want the guns? Secure the borders, make it a crime for the police not to respond to my and my families calls for help when were attacked, and guarantee that our government will never infringe apon the rights given within the constitution so that I will never have to defend it again, and i will give you my guns. No questions asked.

Gumnos (profile) says:

Just walkin' through the loophole…

The 2nd amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, but not to wear body-armor. Subsequent legislation will require that all s̶u̶b̶j̶e̶c̶t̶s citizens walk around mostly naked.

And in other news, rebellious factions start screen-printing poetry on body-armor and then claiming violation of first-amendment rights when charged under these proposed laws…

Leit (user link) says:

Re: Re: Just walkin' through the loophole…

Unfortunately, standard use hasn’t been a factor since US v Miller. Otherwise full-auto firearms would be on the menu as well.

Okay, theoretically they still are – if you pay for a tax stamp from an entity that doesn’t issue them any more, or get hold of one of the ludicrously expensive transferables. So basically if you’er rich, powerful or police.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

Even if this bill passes, it wouldn’t prevent people from owning body armor, it would encourage more people to buy body armor. What do they think will happen? That they’ll arrest every American who has body armor? It would create a nationwide riot.

They need to make it punishable up to 10 years for law enforcement to have this body armor as well.

Jack says:

Well, if they bothered to look at laws that already existed, the they would see that it is illegal for felons to own body armor already and that using body armor in the commission of some federal crimes results in an increase in jail time…

So, this law isn’t making it illegal to stop felons from owning body armor, which is already a crime in every state except Colorado (and I doubt after Auroroa, it’ll be that way for long) but to ONLY stop lawful citizens from owning body armor…

This is truly police state move…

Anonymous Coward says:

Honda said it has been endorsed by law enforcement organizations including the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, according to Honda.

Given the history of those organizations with regard to private citizens’ rights, that endorsement alone would make me suspicious of the bill no matter how good it sounded – and this bill definitely sounds very bad.

Seegras (profile) says:

How stupid can you get?

Historical reenactors will have a problem. Jousting, like these do, http://www.orderofthecrescent.com/ in historical armour? Illegal. These things might be hardened, in which case they are resistant against small arms fire. My own armour sure is.

Collectors? Museums? Sorry, their exhibits are now illegal. 15th to 17th century armour is most probably resistant against small arms fire. And WW1 trench armour maybe even against rifles.

Celebrities and their bodyguards? Sorry, they won’t be able to wear armour.

Neither can people that do money transfers for banks.

And probably civilians that work with explosives could neither. People from mining or tunnelling companies and such.

I’m pretty sure I missed a lot of professions that depend on some kind of ballistic body protection.

angry webmaster (profile) says:

Body armor isn't a panacea

A few details this nitwit doesn’t seem to be considering. Most of the body armor worn is designed to go under the clothes. It is lightweight.

It will stop most pistol rounds. It might stop buckshot from a shotgun. It will NOT stop a rifle round. Armor that will stop a rifle bullet is worn as a vest and usually has a ceramic plate in it. It will stop most rifle bullets. It is heavy, not the most comfortable item to wear and expensive.

Now, if you are shot wearing a vest and the bullet is stopped, you ARE going down. It’s like being hit with a baseball bat. While the projectile has not penetrated, all that kinetic energy has. You will be stunned for a moment and possibly have a cracked or broken rib.

There is a video of a US soldier in Iraq who was shot in the chest by a sniper. the Round was a 7.62x54R which is similar to our 30.06 or .308 cartridge. The soldier did have a plate and that’s where he was hit. He still went down like a sack of wet cement, but was back on his feet and seeking cover in a few seconds.

He was still vulnerable to a follow up shot during those few seconds. (Amateur snipers) If I recall correctly, in the interview afterwards, he had a pretty big bruise on his chest where he was hit.

Body armor is meant to keep you alive. It isn’t the same is being in a tank.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Body armor isn't a panacea

Perhaps you are too young to remember: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

Now, I am not in agreement with any sort of ban on body armor.

It seems crazy to me to restrict the use of something clearly designed to save lives, but your assessment that someone wearing it cannot take several direct shots to the armor and continue firing at law enforcement officers is clearly wrong. It has actually happened.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Body armor isn't a panacea

Any rifle suitable for precision fire in an urban environment should be more than adequate to knock down someone in body armor. It’s like the other guy said. You can’t break the laws of physics.

M-16s are less designed for “knockdown effect” so the AR-15 is perhaps not the best tool for the job. It may look scary but it actually has a fairly weak cartridge by either hunting or military sniping standards.

A nice bolt action hunting rifle probably would have been the better option.

Pretending you’re the A-Team or a 30’s gangster isn’t necessarily the right approach to anything.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Body armor isn't a panacea

Yes, but since the police are not carrying weapons that can defeat the available body armor, it really is effective against their weapons.

Like I said, I don’t think body armor should be outlawed, but arguing that it is ineffective is simply wrong – unless you arm the police with something that can defeat it and I think that is a really bad idea as well.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Body armor isn't a panacea

From the article:

“Prior to 1997, only LAPD SWAT officers were authorized to carry .45 ACP caliber pistols, specifically the Model 1911A1 .45 ACP semiautomatic pistol.”

So much for the “Dirty Harry” narrative. This is just a smallish handgun and the LAPD wasn’t allowed to use it. It’s specifically designed with “knockdown effect” in mind.

Dave Cortright says:

New business models abound

Welcome to the CA Buyers Club, where—with a reasonable membership fee and a flat processing fee that bears uncanny resemblance to the retail cost + shipping—you can have one of our suits of body armor. Of course you don’t own it; the club does. We are based in Nevada with outlets all along the Western border of that state, so it takes only a day to ship to anywhere in CA. We might even open another operation in Ashland, Oregon. It’s beautiful and who doesn’t love Shakespeare?

Can’t afford the lump sums required in the Buyers Club? Well then join up with NetBodyArmorFlix. For a flat monthly fee, you rent a suit of body armor for as long as you want. When you return the one you have, the next one in your queue will be sent to you. Get in line early for our most popular model, which has a variety of messages speculating on Mike Honda’s lineage and creative suggestions on what he can go do.

zip says:

police sales, book-bags

I’ve read that much of the ‘military-grade’ body armor on the market comes from the police itself, who get it free from the feds, then discover that it’s not even suitable for regular police use. So after letting it sit in storage for years collecting dust, they make a few bucks on the side and sell off their excess stockpile.

It’s interesting that this “enhanced body armor” bill defines what “enhanced” means, but not what “body armor” itself means. Would simply wearing a half-full book-bag (back or front) count as “body armor” if it was capable of stopping a “Type III”-class rifle bullet? Would schoolteachers be guilty of ‘secondary’ criminality of they assigned too much homework and the excess book thickness was enough to stop such a bullet?

If so, then maybe school book bags will need to be regulated, in the maximum thickness of books they can carry, so they can’t possible function as Type III body armor — whether intended or not.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

It seems to me that the cops are just lazy. How do you take down an armored assailant if he’s wearing body armor you can’t penetrate? Shoot him in the hand. Have fun shooting back with that huge hole in your hand. That’s actually a (probably) nonlethal way to take him down. Wearing body armor is going to protect you against lethal shots to the body, and what certain group has been shooting a lot of innocent people lately? I think we all know…

Also, CRIMINALS DO NOT &$#%ING FOLLOW LAWS!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Shooting them in the hand is extremely difficult to do. It’d be much easier to shoot them in the head where their face is a larger target, and unlikely to be armored.

Or like John Fenderson said, just shoot them in the chest. It’ll knock them down, give them a nasty bruise, and possibly crack a rib or two.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t want to defend the craziness of restricting the sale or ownership of body armor (which I think should be allowed), but the right armor is, in fact, pretty effective.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

If you don’t remember the infamous North Hollywood shootout, two guys with assault rifles were able to hold off more than a dozen police officers who did not have accurate enough weapons to make a head shot to kill them. Neither could be stopped by even a rifle shot to the chest. One killed himself (accidentally, if I remember right) and the other was shot like a dozen times in the legs until he couldn’t defend himself anymore.

rapnel (profile) says:

Defense

My understanding is that you can’t, as a civilian, buy taser protective clothing either (sold to DOD/LEA/LEO only).

In my opinion anything that outlaws defense against any weapon that you, the police, have for offense is null and void. You don’t get to hold my life in your hands by outlawing what it may or may not take to defend against you IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. And given the surging state of all things police and citizen control It’s not even up for discussion in my mind. The influence of the police on our state is completely out of fucking control full stop.

The right to peacefully assemble albeit in an absolute state of vulnerability against any means of establishing absolute control and authority. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say that so fuck off. I’ll buy a condom, gun, body armor and any other off the shelf thing that will protect me from you or anyone like you.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Defense

“My understanding is that you can’t, as a civilian, buy taser protective clothing either (sold to DOD/LEA/LEO only).”

I’m unaware of a law preventing that (or civilians owning it), though. I expect it’s just a case of the manufacturer choosing to restrict who they sell to. Fortunately, it’s really very easy to make some yourself.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

Re: Re: Last I checked...

…civilians could still purchase sap gloves (gloves with knuckles reinforced with shot). They haven’t been criminalized because the police don’t want to admit they exist as they’d be outlawed for law-enforcement as well.

I’ll have to look into the makings for taser-resistant clothes given some police believe tasers are a viable alternative to vocal interaction.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why its time for new governmental leaders

The governmental leaders we have now would strip us of our right to defend ourselves by removing our guns and our body armor. While at the same time, they have armed, body armored guards and most likely have their own body armor. No law should be allowed that doesn’t equally apply to the law makers.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: This is why its time for new governmental leaders

The biggest problems with these kinds of laws is that you will still have thousands of civilians running around with this stuff and industries will still exist to support it. Some of those civilians will inevitably be corrupt or just stupid and some of this gear will end up in the wrong hands.

Want an AR-15? Just wait until a Compton School cop has it back turned and take his.

Austin (profile) says:

Not as relevant as you may think

Is this tied to the militarization of police? Yes.

Is it tied in the way you think? No.

Here’s the problem. The program the army uses to sell military gear to the cops exists for several reasons, but one of the biggest is congressional earmarks. That is, virtually every dollar in the DoD budget is earmarked – by congress – to fund a SPECIFIC program. For example, that 600 billion dollars we’re spending on the F-35 that not a single general or admiral will say they even want? Earmarked. The armed services are disallowed, by congress, to spend that money the way they – the armed servies, who you’d think would be the experts on the subject – want to. Instead, they’re forced to direct the money to specific projects, and most often, to specific defense contractors.

How is this relevant? Because the program used by the armed services to sell this gear – at bargain basement prices, but still, it’s sold, not gifted – to the police goes into a slush fund that the military can then spend however they want, free of congressional earmarks. Thus, the military depends on these sales of arms to the cops to fund projects that congress doesn’t want to pay for.

Keep in mind, this isn’t the DoD’s preferred solution to any of this. The armed services all have their own logistics divisions who are veritable experts at moving vast quantities of guns, tanks, and anything else an army needs anywhere in record time. They’re better than UPS by most accounts. The DoD certainly doesn’t want to be fighting potential hostiles (anyone remember anything that happened in the 60’s and 70’s when the National Guard was sent in AGAINST the local cops???) who are using the DoD’s own gear. But when they need to direct more money to armor Humvees and aren’t allowed to use the money wasted on the F-35 or the 3,000 surplus Abrams tanks they don’t want, then hey, the money has to come from somewhere.

And guess how else the DoD makes extra pocket change that isn’t earmarked? Yep, Military Surplus Stores. All that gear just lying there for any civilian to walk in and buy it? The armed services sell that gear to the stores, and the money goes into another slush fund.

So here’s the thing. There aren’t a million different kinds of “body armor.” Guns? Thousands. Bullets? Tens of thousands. Body Armor? You can probably count those between your hands and feet, anyway. By far the most prevalent (not counting things like Flak Vests, which really aren’t body armor) is the US’s Interceptor armor. And it is told, by the military itself, to private surplus stores all across the country, to the tune of 2000 or 3000 vests a year. This is because it uses a system of ceramic plates. Once a given plate takes a single round, that plate is useless, and won’t stop anything. The DoD did some number crunching after Desert Storm and figured out it’s actually cheaper for them to sell an entire vest, plates and all, than to replace the single broken plate. So some soldier in Iraq cracks a plate in combat, and boom, it gets sold to a civilian who now has 95% as-good-as-new body armor.

This law intends to do a few things, but it’s motivated by just one thing. It is trying to ensure that the military can still put down a civilian uprising if needed. It is trying to ensure that the army doesn’t have to outfit every soldier with AP rounds to counter the body armor. But mostly, it’s motivated by the same greed that causes the DoD to sell thus stuff in the first place.

Many people have noted – for over a DECADE now – that Dragonskin is a superior kind of body armor over the Interceptor armor in use today. The guy who designed Interceptor, himself a vietnam war vet who still holds a patent and gets regular royalty payments on Interceptor armor sales to the Army, Marines, and (I think) Navy, himself has said, on camera, that he agrees that Dragonskin is a superior product. And it’s cheaper. Yes, the better product is ALSO cheaper.

But the guy who intended it and the company that mass produces it for the DoD are not the same people. The company that makes Interceptor has spent no small amount of coin to ensure that, every time a new DoD budget passes through congress, the funds for body armor are earmarked for Interceptor armor ONLY, not Dragonskin. And so, our troops come home as paraplegics (if at all) because of the inferior body armor that congress stupidly earmarks, as if to imply that senators and congressmen know more about body armor THAN THE ARMY!

That’s the root of this problem. These sales of arms – to civilians who lack the training to know what they hell they’re doing anyway – and to the police are all the symptoms of the root cause, congressional earmarks.

Remove the earmarks, and the DoD can operate on half its current budget while still being better equipped than they are right now, and ill-advised, short sighted programs like these will no longer be needed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Not as relevant as you may think

“Because the program used by the armed services to sell this gear – at bargain basement prices, but still, it’s sold, not gifted – to the police goes into a slush fund that the military can then spend however they want, free of congressional earmarks.”

So, in other words, the military is throwing us all under the bus for their own benefit. Fuck them.

If they have a problem with how they’re funded, they should address it the same way every other government agency does: take their case to Congress. It’s not as if they don’t have clout there.

That the root of this behavior stems from how their money pie is divvied up in no way means this isn’t their fault. They are responsible for their own choices. Again, fuck them. Hard.

zip says:

Re: Not as relevant as you may think

There’s another side to politics in military-surplus sales. In the not-so-distant past, things like old rifles and past-its-expiration-date ammunition were auctioned off, and eventually made it to the civilian market. Now the old (but still suitable for practice) ammunition is destroyed (called “recycled” but essentially destroyed) and the guns (when serviceable) are transferred exclusively to police.

This has driven up prices considerably, which should please the gun-control crowd.

Anonymous Coward says:

Greetings, Representative Honda. I’m a registered “decline-to-state” voter that got moved into your district with the 2013 redistricting. I oppose this legislation in the strongest of terms. While I’ve been generally favorable of your congressional record so far, you’ve forced me to take a good hard look at the virtues of Mr. Ro Khanna and consider voting for him in the upcoming election. I would ask you to withdraw this legislation immediately. Pushing it forward will represent a breach of loyalty to my values as a District 17 voter, and I will repay said disloyalty in kind.

Thanks very much

dmp

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

The bill of rights...

Anyone in government, and by “in government” I mean from the highest representative tp the lowest agent or bureaucrat

~ Should know the constitutional rights of the people

~Should understand the constitutional rights of the people and why those protections are in place.

~ Should not resent these rights.

~ Should not attempt to negate, restrict or bypass these rights.

Anyone who cannot abide should NOT BE IN GOVERNMENT.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Yes, Mr. Honda, Why?

From the linked article:

“We should be asking ourselves, why is this armor available to just anyone, if it was designed to be used only by our soldiers to take to war?” Honda said.

If this armor was designed to be used only by our soldiers to take to war, then why are we allowing it to be used domestically by anyone at all? By his argument, the police shouldn’t have it either.

KC says:

Not entirely true… they want to illegalize MILITARY GRADE body armor. This level of body armor isn’t even worn by most police; it involves a system of vest and plating. It’s heavier than most cops want to wear, and it’s more expensive than most agencies are willing to pay for.

As for it being “sold” as military surplus, it has a shelf life, so no, it’s not likely that it’s being sold off as “surplus” to further “militarize” police.

If any of you here are buying used body armor, you’re probably being ripped off for a product that likely won’t work — hope that deer doesn’t shoot back.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

Re: Short-lived military armor

they want to illegalize MILITARY GRADE body armor… isn’t even worn by most police… heavier than most cops want to wear, and it’s more expensive than most agencies are willing to pay…has a shelf life.

Well if he wants to criminalize only this specific form of military grade body armor that is impractically short lived and expensive, that raises the question why it needs to be criminalized at all.

People who can afford specialized military hardware can also afford the special licenses (and if necessary, bribes) to bypass local arms restrictions.

Chesty Puller says:

Re: When you know what the fuck you aretalking about come on back and engage with the team.

The proposed bill H.R. Fuck the people whatever…

Specifically enumerates “Enhanced Body Armor” as that rated to defeat NIJ class III rifle threats.

That would mean the posession of a piece of AR500 and simlar hardened steel of approximately .25 inch thickmness in a size and shape similar to a persons chest would be a FUCKING FEDERAL CRIME punishable by rendition FOR 10 FUCKING YEARS in Federal Slam You In The ASS PRISON.

Honda wants to criminilize the posession of STEEL.

Read the NIJ Standard at http://nist.gov/oles/upload/ballistic.pdf

have a look at commercial prodcts available at…

http://www.ballisticsupplies.com/steel.html

http://www.bulletproofme.com/Body_Armor_Complete_Products_LIST.shtml#Rifle

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Otherwise known as 'useless information'

Simple: Because it does not matter.

If an idea is bad, it’s bad whether the person has a (D) or an (R) in front of their name.

If an idea is good, it’s good whether they have a (D) or an (R) in front of their name.

The only purpose of bringing up party affiliation would be to muddy the waters, and insert a bias into the affair. ‘Oh, he’s from the party I agree with, his idea must be a good one’, or ‘Oh, he’s from the party I don’t agree with, his idea must be a bad one’.

Patrick says:

Re: Re: Otherwise known as 'useless information'

Are you kidding me? “Let’s play Name that Party!” is an old joke for a reason. Dems never get the D if they did something objectionable, but do when they did something praiseworthy. For Republicans it’s the opposite. It’s a universal convention.

No wait, I’m wrong. Republicans never do anything praiseworthy. That’s the universal convention.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Otherwise known as 'useless information'

On Techdirt, party affiliation is only mentioned when it’s actually relevant to the story, so your game doesn’t really work here.

It’s one of the best editorial stances Techdirt has, since party affiliation is rarely actually relevant, but almost always furthers the goal of the powerful to keep the citizens fighting with each other over irrelevancies.

Michael W. Perry (user link) says:

This issue runs far beyond out-of-control police shootings. Night security guards and, in fact, anyone who works nights in dangerous locations, may need that level of protection. A guard on patrol in a warehouse can be shot in the darkness and left for dead. A holdup and a liquor store gone bad can leave the clerk lying in a pool of blood.
People who work at dangerous jobs or who travel through dangerous areas have a right to choose what level of protection they have. They shouldn’t be turned into criminals for doing that.

Uriel-238 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Assault Rifles vs. Battle Rifles

Assault Rifles such as the M16-based weapons, used in NATO, or the ubiquitous AK-47 used by everybody and their cousins, are fitted for a short round, that is, the same mount of bullet but less propellant than traditional rifle rounds such as for sporting rifles or battle rifles. Assault rifles and intermediate cartridges for them were invented in WWII once we had enough statistical data to show most infantry encounters took place at less than thirty meters. By creating a smaller bullet that couldn’t fell a deer (or a man) at five kilometers, it allowed the average trooper could carry more ammunition for the same weight.

It runs down like this:
~ A pistol, handgun or sidearm uses a handgun cartridge
~ An assault rifle and some marksman rifles use an intermediate cartridge or assault round.
~ A battle rifle, other marksman rifles, sporting rifles and most sniper rifles use a long cartrige or a high-power cartridge or a full-rifle round.
~ Some extreme sniper rifles and rifles for hunting dinosaur will use a .50BMG heavy machine gun round, for when you really, really want something dead.

The most ubiquitious AR round is the 5.56x45mm NATO
The most ubiquitous high-power round is the 7.62x51mm NATO.

NOTE: None of the “assault” listed above has anything to do with whether or not something counts as an assault weapon for political or legal purposes. It is feasible for an Assault Rifle to not be an Assault Weapon or for an Assault Weapon not to be an Assault Rifle when configured to avoid the various legal descriptions of what an “Assault Weapon” is. Try to not get confused.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Gun Nuts Should Be Supporting A Body-Armour Ban

…Guns can be used to “defend” yourself against an attacker. Try to “defend” against someone wearing body armour and you are mincemeat.

Body armor might be used to defend yourself against an attacker with guns, such as a miss-directed SWAT raid.

Most gun owners of the Libertarian variety expect that they’re going to be up against not a lightly-armed cat burglar (who comes when you’re not home or asleep anyway) but the proverbial Redcoats armed for laser-bearsharks in state-of-the-art tactical gear.

They expect their ONLY advantage is going to be home turf.

We should start calling Law Enforcement Officers Redcoats.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Military Weapons in police hands should not include bullets.

If it’s a SWAT raid, they’ll have military-style weaponry, and you won’t.

Pillars of Creation, I hope not.

That is one of the distinct differences in arming as a warfighting unit and arming as a peacekeeping force: the bullets you use.

Police forces are supposed to use hollow point or dum-dum rounds so as to reduce penetration (such rounds also, incidentally, increase takedown-rate of unarmored targets). Particularly swanky officers use Safety Glasers.

Warfighting units on the other hand use light armor-piercing FMJ rounds. In fact they’re not allowed by Geneva Conventions to use hollow points or any of the above rounds.

There’s an odd piece of gang lore that an AK-47 loaded with Soviet FMJ rounds will penetrate eleven houses*, which you generally don’t want to do even when fighting a gang war.

* I can’t find or confirm this bit of lore, so take it as you will. I’d be interested in how such a number was determined, though.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Military Weapons in police hands should not include bullets.

There’s an odd piece of gang lore that an AK-47 loaded with Soviet FMJ rounds will penetrate eleven houses*,

If all it hits is drywall, that wouldn’t be surprising at all. The chances of going through eleven houses without hitting some studs or appliances or something that would stop it would seem small but of course not impossible.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Not in a stand-up fight.

In an asymmetric war situation guns aren’t as useful as they would be otherwise, but they still are useful. And as I said above, the right to bear arms does not only include guns, but any hardware that might be used by a military as a force multiplier. The point is, that if our army has it, then it should be accessible to the civilian population.

But yeah, insurgents and partisans don’t tend to fight with guns and armor, but with sabotage devices. IEDs. It’s why anarchists are depicted holding bombs, not AK-47s

Dean Pennington says:

civilian body armor trend

As is typical with liberals in such things the end justifies the means so lying and red herrings are often used tools. The UCR (UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS) kept by the FBI document no such trend. The last time we heard of body armor on spree killer it was that fired sheriff’s deputy that scared the begeebers out of all the so. Cal. Cops. They were so scared.of his training (not armor) they shot two women and a man who bore no resemblance. Lets remember that even an honest liberal can take an instance whhere there was one armor-wearing criminal in 2010 and two in 2011 and describe it as an alarming trend and a 100% year to year increase. We’re not hearing or reading about this kind of armor use by a liberal (in their pocket press) because its a non issue. In a world where cops have armored vehicles and heat sensing devices that let them know where you are in your own home and shoot you thru the walls they don’t need too make criminals out of law abiding citizens or lock them up for teen years AND never in the history books has one of these oppressive laws prevented one criminal from getting whatever they want. This is politicians who are afraid of a lawful citizen militia because of how they plan on ruling the citizens in the liberal fascist future they are navigating a free nation towards.

Dean Pennington says:

civilian body armor trend

As is typical with liberals in such things the end justifies the means so lying and red herrings are often used tools. The UCR (UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS) kept by the FBI document no such trend. The last time we heard of body armor on spree killer it was that fired sheriff’s deputy that scared the begeebers out of all the so. Cal. Cops. They were so scared of his training (not armor) they shot two women and a man who bore no resemblance. Lets remember that even an honest liberal can take an instance where there was one armor-wearing criminal in 2010 and two in 2011 and describe it as an alarming trend and a 100% year to year increase. We’re not hearing or reading about this kind of armor use by a liberal (in their pocket press) because its a non issue. In a world where cops have armored vehicles and heat sensing devices that let them know where you are in your own home and shoot you thru the walls they don’t need too make criminals out of law abiding citizens or lock them up for ten years AND never in the history books has one of these oppressive laws prevented one criminal from getting whatever they want. This is politicians who are afraid of a lawful citizen militia because of how they plan on ruling the citizens in the liberal fascist future they are navigating a free nation towards.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Shambling towards dissolution

Gaaaah! Wall of text! I’ll admit that I’ve occasionally been guilty of them myself. But meandering rants that are not separated into discrete thoughts are difficult to slog through, and I can’t promise I will do so in the future.

Despite that most of your rant seems to be unsupported blaming-the-other-guys, I want to address one point:

If there was a secret agenda to oppress the people, it wouldn’t manifest as armor bans but as a system to disseminate bread and circuses, because that’s what works, and that is exactly what we aren’t doing right now. Quite the opposite, we’re continuing to reduce social welfare on account that our rich people don’t want to pay for the goldbrickers layabouts and slugabeds (“Little do they realize their days of sucking at my teat are numbered!”).

This kind of legislation is presented not because anyone did any research but because they think it might help, and fail to acknowledge that the legislative process is too sluggish and too corrupted for trial-and-error lawmaking.

Our representatives may actually have the best interests of the people and of the nation at heart, but at this point their hands are tied to the bidding of their corporate sponsors, and any worrisome agenda for the nation would be found amongst the lobbying interests, not amongst ideological think-tanks, liberal or otherwise.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...