California Bill Bans Police from Getting Grenade Launchers and Tanks from Feds

September 14, 2015   |   Cassius Methyl

Cassius Methyl
September 14, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Sacramento, CA — A bill to stop the militarization of California police departments received final approval in the state legislature last Thursday. The bill is now on its way to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown.

A.B.36 establishes that California would “prohibit a local agency, other than a local law enforcement agency that is directly under the control of an elected officer, from applying to receive tactical surplus military equipment.”

It bans the transfer of “tracked armored vehicles, weaponized vehicles, firearms or ammunition greater than .50 caliber, grenade launchers, bayonets and camouflage uniforms.”

Introduced by Assemblywoman Nora Campos of San Jose, Assembly Bill 36 (A.B.36) — if enacted into law by the governor — will prevent the transfer of heavy duty weapons of war to local police departments.

Americans are increasingly concerned with the Pentagon’s now prevalent practice of arming local police departments with weapons of war, from grenade launchers to M-16 rifles and MRAP armored vehicles.

The bill specifically points out the dangers of police militarization, saying it would “declare that this is a matter of statewide concern.” 

Most military equipment given to local police departments is transferred via the Pentagon’s surplus 1033 program. Through it, the Pentagon donates heavy military weaponry and equipment to local police departments, government agencies, and even school districts.

The program incited alarm when schools received grenade launchers and collections of M-16 rifles. Those in question included the Los Angeles Unified School District’s police and police at the University of Louisiana, Monroe.

The controversies surrounding weapons transfers like these have chipped away at support for the 1033 program.

“Those are weapons for war, they are not for policing communities,” said Ray Robertson, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette — in reference to the University of Louisiana’s stockpile of twelve M-16 rifles.

The transfer of military weapons to local police is considered by many to be reckless as the policy raises the risk for abuse of power.  Assemblywoman Campos highlighted these concerns: “Due to recent events of police brutality, distrust between law enforcement and many of our communities remains at an all-time high,” she said. “Further exacerbating the issue is the recent militarization of law enforcement agencies and a movement away from community policing across the nation.”

The following examples from non-profit news organization The Marshall Project illustrate the scale of the weapons transfer program:

  • “Police in Johnston, R.I., with a population less than 29,000, acquired two bomb disposal robots, 10 tactical trucks, 35 assault rifles, more than 100 infrared gun sights and two pairs of footwear designed to protect against explosive mines. The Johnson police department has 67 sworn officers.
  • The parks division of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources was given 20 M-16 rifles, while the fish and wildlife enforcement division obtained another 20 M-16s, plus eight M-14 rifles and ten .45-caliber automatic pistols.
  • Campus police at the University of Louisiana, Monroe, received 12 M-16s to help protect the 8,811 students there (or perhaps to keep them in line).
  • The warden service of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife received a small aircraft, 96 night vision goggles, 67 gun sights and seven M-14 rifles.”

Is it a good sign that California lawmakers are concerned about the 1033 program? Why does the Pentagon want to arm these police departments and organizations so heavily in the first place?


This article (California Bill Bans Police from Getting Grenade Launchers and Tanks from Feds) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Cassius Methyl and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Cassius Methyl

Cassius Methyl joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in March of 2014. His topics of interest include thinking, creating a future, deep spirituality, and astrology. He resides in Sacramento, California.

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  8. Lets blame the equipment and not the operator. Because the equipment shoots itself at civilians all the time. Can't have that.

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  12. Your comment makes no sense. Who is blaming anything? They are trying to reduce the amount of equipment that can be abused by the operators. No one has ever said that guns shoot people, that's idiotic.

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  13. Sure, everybody knows that if someone you love dies because an operator has more "equipment" than they can handle, you can just file a lawsuit and bring that person back to life. Preventing people from dying in the first place would just be a waste of time and money.

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  14. I respectfully need to point out that several of the Fisheries and Wildlife acquisitions make perfect sense for the nature of the work environment. Backwoods areas with large animals including bears, coyotes, mountain liions and they are possibly hours away from major hospitals or police forces. In places like Alaska and Montana many people own powerful hunting rifles and pistols for this very reason. In backwoods California you also have lots of places where Mexican drug cartels have set up grow ops in sparsely inhabited areas and they are known to lethally protect them.

    Also, one of the primary police uses for dedicated grenade launchers is for firing tear gas cannisters. Like many modern weapons, grenade launchers are used to fire a variety of ammunition both lethal and less lethal. Nobody is buying these guns to reenact Die Hard.

    I finally note that in most of California this would not prohibit county sheriffs from procuring those weapons as they are nearly all elected positions.

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