“An automatic M-16 rifle is missing from one of the Philadelphia Police Department’s main gun-storage units and Commissioner Charles Ramsey has called in federal authorities to investigate,” philly.com reports. “Obviously, this is very, very serious,” Ramsey said. “And believe me, we will get to the bottom of it, one way or another, I guarantee that.” Cops lose gun. Cops go crazy trying to find it before it turns into another Fast and Furious Brian Terry deal. Another day, another example of why cops should not have a monopoly on the use of ballistic force. OK, it is a fully-automatic “assault rifle” that went walkies. But here’s the bit that caught my editorial eye . . .

Ramsey said a regularly scheduled audit last week of 1,356 Colt M-16 rifles stored in a vault at the Philadelphia Police Academy revealed that one of the weapons was missing.

And the Philly po-po have an arsenal of machine guns because . . .

The cache of Vietnam-era automatic M-16s was given by the military to police, who are converting the weapons to semiautomatic AR-15s, Ramsey said. Indications are that the missing weapon had not yet been converted, he said.

The missing machine gun—and the fact that its new owners don’t know whether or not it’s been modded to semi-auto—may make Commissioner Ramsey look incompetent but . . . uh . . . it must be said: what an idiot.

The worst-case scenario, Ramsey said, is that the gun may have been stolen by one of his officers. In that case, Ramsey said, he’d do everything possible to assure that the thief gets time in a federal prison – even though he wasn’t quite sure what criminal statute would be applicable.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said, “but whatever the hell it is, we’re gonna use it.”

Need more proof that the top cop—who opposes residents’ right to keep and bear arms—isn’t the sharpest cop in the box? The Philadelphia News provides it:

Ramsey said that the department has “never had anything like this happen to us before,” and that he was not aware of another missing weapon in his five years with the department.

However, in 2011, following a Daily News investigation into allegations of impropriety in the department’s Firearms Identification Unit, an audit by the U.S. Department of Justice conducted at Ramsey’s request found that eight guns were missing from that unit’s storage department.

The Pentagon’s 1033 Program—transferring billions of dollars worth of “excess” military hardware to over 17k police departments all over the country—provided Philly’s 1,356 (formerly 1,357) M-16s. The guns are (were?) kept in 800-pound crates in the evidence room.

I wonder how much other former military hardware has “seeped” from cop shops to criminals—excluding the aforementioned officially sanctioned ATF Fast and Furious anti-gun running gun running operation.

And it sure seems that the cops aren’t as out-gunned as they’ve said.

Recommended For You

88 Responses to Why Do The Philadelphia Police Have 1,356 Full-Auto M-16s?

  1. Why do the police need a baby killing murder weapon? Are they going to kill babies and children? WHYYYYYYYYY DO THEY NEEED THAT?

      • Actually this time. And I seriously doubt that conversion claim. Waited 30 odd years to start converting? Smells like Greenpoint to me.

        • Wouldn’t it have be more cost effective and prudent to have Colt preform the conversions, say 35 years ago???
          And then there is a secondary question of why do the Philly Po-Po NEED 1,356 semis? I know Philly is intimidated by The New Jersey being just a few hundred yards away but M-16s won’t mount much of a challenge there. The only use I can see is aggressive social work. This idea security=militarized 50 and a disarmed citizenry if kind of oxymoronish to my old eyes.

    • That’s easy. because there are some 717,500 Blacks in Phillly. And just about all would kill a cop in a heart beat.

  2. not sure who took it, but when i was a wee bit younger, we drove to the hood to pickup some ‘stuff’, and after we got it, two North Philly cops pulled us over, roughed us up, and took our money and stuff, told us if they saw us again we were ‘done’. True story.
    Not sure who has the rifle though.

    • Not all police work results in an arrest. Did you ever go back to “the hood”? They may not have stopped your need for “stuff”, but I bet they changed your purchasing habits. I had some beer taken from me in my youth as well. We felt we got off lucky that our parents weren’t called. Cops mostly keep the peace and defuse situations. They also think they can arrest anyone at any time and come up with appropriate charges later…or not.

      • Well, that’s the thing, right? These cops can rough up a “couple of kids” and the kids will let it go counting themselves lucky they weren’t arrested or their parents weren’t told. Then the police can take the “stuff” and plant it on some other unsuspecting schmuck that they want to lock up but cannot find the legitimate evidence to do so. It’s not catalogued as evidence prior to the plant, so they’re free an clear and the suspect goes away for a while.

      • “Cops mostly keep the peace and defuse situations.”

        False, cops mostly enforce the edicts of people of such poor character that they became politicians. They also raise revenue for the government. Keeping the peace is fairly low on a cop’s to do list.

        • Although I once caught a break from a cop for a youthful indiscretion I agree with csmallo, cops don’t keep the peace, they enforce the law, huge difference.

        • I’m mixed on this. There is a difference between roughing up some kids who could have quite easily been killed conducting their “transaction” and police abuse. Back in the day such ‘roughing up” was not done with the sadistic hatred we see displayed today. And on the flip side we NEVER hear about the breaks some kids get. I believe (and yes I experienced more than one such “adjustment” as a yut) that it was done with the hope of saving a kid from incrementally becoming a criminal. Just my opinion.

    • That world is basically gone – never to return.

      Over the last 20 years most metros have moved to what’s known as “performance based policing”. You get promotion points for a felony bust. You are expected to make “x” number of ped stops and car per month regardless of probable cause. We have gotten to the point of certifying departments to ISO:9001.

      In a world of dashcams and cell phone vids what we get what the system is designed for – “procedure and policy”. Kids arrested at their HS by some on-campus copper for cigarettes, a little weed, or maybe a fistfight.

  3. They’ll give full auto rifles to police, but they won’t let South Korea send decommisioned Garands here for the civilian market. Makes perfect sense.

      • Actually, some 300,000 M1 Garand service rifles and about a million M1 service carbines. Former Secretary of State Clinton and [Soon to be former] President Obama stopped the transfer of those classic weapons to the US. They will have to wait until we get a legitimate administration in 2016.

        • I would be surprised if there is a “legitimate” admin elected any time soon.

  4. I’m a huge fan of the 1033 Program. The closer all that military hardware is to the people, the easier it is to procure once the time comes.

  5. I have just one question-What legitimate use does ANY police department have for fully automatic weapons?

      • That,s why LE agencies like New York and Cali are looking into .50 cal rifles. Those deathclaws aren’t gonna kill themselves, and making quality dart guns is just too much hassle. lol

    • It’s pretty common for departments to get DRMO M16s, put modern fixtures on them, convert them to semi auto and issue them to patrol officers.

      The majority of gear that is available through the program is not weapons though, it’s stuff like boots, helmets, sleeping bags, etc… after the department that gets the gear holds on to it for a year most of it is eligible to be auctioned off to the public anyway.

      • -convert them to semi-auto. It would be nice to know how long these particulars were in their possession, being as they were still in auto format.

        • Well seeing as they were crated up in a warehouse, who knows. It really doesn’t matter.

        • Philly PD paid $1 each for these M16s. A decent semi-auto AR trigger group starts at about $50, plus budgeting time for the department armorer to install them and function test before issuing to patrol officers. Add even more money if rifles are being fitted with optics or other upgrades.

          Without a pressing need — like a high-profile “North Hollywood bank robbery” incident — funding parts and armorer’s labor to convert $1 rifles is way down the department’s list of things that need to be done.

  6. So what happened to all the “weapons of war have no place on our streets” BS we’ve been hearing for the four months or so since Sandy Hook?

  7. An Army MP friend of mine, years ago, told me that most people would be shocked at the amount of hardware that walks off military bases. Mostly not MGs, but sometimes and a crap ton of ammo and other shit. Even if he was just exaggerating, if half what he was saying is true. So yea, a police depts, I can see it being even worst, especially when you consider that most now have some serious pew pew in the trunks of their cars. A simple vehicle theft could turn into some well armed bad guys.

    • Several major U.S. street gangs, including but not limited to the Latin Kings and the 18th Street Gang, are known to have organized ongoing programs to infiltrate the U.S. military in order to obtain both training and hardware.

      • The lower ranks are thoroughly infested with gang members by the thousands. Last report I read was about 50 of the major gangs had known members in all branches.

        • Thanks Ropingdown- thats a good source, and I agree its a serious issue.

          Not to quibble, but the statistic cited as “Gang infiltration of the military continues to pose a significant criminal threat, as members of at least 53 gangs have been identified on both domestic and international military installations..”

          is wide but thin without more info,

          and IMHO does not justify the characterization that “lower ranks are thoroughly infested”.

          If one were going to generalize here, why go overboard to smear the good guys – the sheep dogs?

          That would serve only those with a particular personal issue and an ax to grind, anonymously,

          or a troll/sock puppet, looking to discredit gun folk, and both defame TTAG as a community, with that kind of post here, if it goes on too often without comment.

          And, with apologies to anyone who didn’t mean it that way, I prefer to point it out, for the record, that in my humble experience, of us dont roll like that.

          LEOs and the MIL dont need me to protect them, certainly, but it needs to be said anyway, once in awhile, that they take a lot of cheap shots, in addition to risking their lives, in service to our families safety and our freedoms.

  8. Just FWIW, my department has only semi’s. Most departments in Oregon have semi’s. With the exception of the feds, and the SWAT Dogs with the larger depts.

    • He didn’t say “when” they were going to be converted to semi. That sort of thing takes time. Years even…

    • Done by a lot of departments. DoD provides them M16s for $1, the department removes the M16 select-fire trigger group and installs a semi-auto AR trigger group. About $50 in parts and an hour’s work for the armorer, assuming he’s checking the serviceability of the rest of the rifle while he’s at it.

      Sometimes they also fit the selector limiter plates that the Army developed, to prevent the selector being put in the “auto” position, just so they can point to those and say “Not a machine gun” if anyone asks.

  9. “In that case, Ramsey said, he’d do everything possible to assure
    that the thief gets time in a federal prison – even though he wasn’t
    quite sure what criminal statute would be applicable.”

    Does anybody else have a problem with the fact that a chief of
    police has stated he has no idea what the law is, but he will find
    something and make it stick?

    • Talk to a cop and you will find that’s their standard operating procedure. Arrest now and charge later (usually). That’s what they do.

      • It’s impossible to memorize the entire list of statutes… You’re talking thousands of laws. Most will only know the common offenses. That seems pretty obvious to me..

        • I understand that it’s hard to keep up with all the regulations, but in this case the law is very clear. If
          the weapon was stolen, then the person(s) involved
          is charged with theft. Anything else is either an extra charge or a modifier.

          Your comment, however, illustrates another issue of why many PDs are losing trust. If they aren’t
          sure of the law, why should you assume that any citation, detainment or arrest is legal? Should you resist if they are unsure of the law?

        • All that is needed for a legal arrest is probable cause that you have committed a crime… It doesn’t matter if you are charged with a crime at the time, so no. You shouldn’t resist because an officer is unsure of the exact article of law you are in violation of. Good luck arguing that in court.

  10. “I don’t know what it is,” he said, “but whatever the hell it is, we’re gonna use it.”

    and by god if not, we’ll make something up, because that’s what we do….

  11. Well I certainly hope they’re converting them to semi-auto, the police have no business brandishing fully auto assault weapons, especially in a crowded city like Philadelphia.

    If they were smart they’d either stash them away at local NG armories just in case the North Koreans (or Cubans) invaded to be handed out to the public. If they were really smart they’d convert them to semi-auto and sell them as military surplus.

  12. Philly cops don’t need that many FA guns, I can’t even imagine a situation where they’d need more than a few dozen simultaneously. Any situation where you need more FA’s than a few dozen can’t be solved by the police, lol.

    • Boys will be boys, yep. The problem with the Chief is he’s getting old and slow. A sharp young Philly Chief knows to simply say “We will prosecute the offender to the full extent of the applicable laws” and then send out for doughnuts and coffee. My question is, are these pre-86 M-16’s?

        • They’re M16A1s that the DoD made available to other agencies rather than converting them to M16A2s.

          They’re “pre-’86” but that doesn’t matter in this case. They were DoD weapons and as such were never registered under the NFA, and can not be registered for private sales now. Police departments get them on a Form 10, I think? At any rate they are not transferable.

  13. My local police department has a dozen or so Vietnam-era Bushmaster full-auto M16s they use during rifle qualification and range drills. They get used every couple months. They were given to the department through a federal grant by the military.

    • Bushmaster was founded in 1978. There are no Vietnam-era Bushmasters. There are, though, pre-86 full-auto Bushmasters.

  14. It pretty common to get the old surplus rifles and convert them over to semi for patrol use. My department got a bunch of colt M16A1 (vietnam vintage with triangle handgards and all) a few years back. They were probably sitting waiting for budget approval to buy the parts ( 1356 sets of them) to configure them how they wanted.

    1356 sounds like a lot but that’s not nearly so much compared to the number of cops Philly employs.

    As for suspects….. I would look at the guys who have keys to. Tube storage room……… Just sayin’

  15. I just hate that they have soo many cool retro ARs. Been looking for one for years that’s not a incorrect SP-1!

  16. Gents. Personally I’m getting sick of the predictable LEO and MIL bashing here. Didn’t you notice the Marines and cops running to the blast zone at Boston despite the fact that AQ IED tactics for subsequent bomb to catch responders is well known? And lets cut the crap on the coy racist comments. Just my two cents.

  17. That’s Chief Ramsey, who was DC C.O.P. during the DC Sniper era. Funny, he was in the same Army unit with sniper John Muhammad….

  18. The BATFE has previously issued a ruling that “once a machine gun, always a machine gun”. Thus, there is no legal conversion from full auto to semi-auto. The claim that they were in the process of “conversion” to semi-auto is bogus. I’m a former class 3 machine gun dealer, and know the law.

    • You may be right but it’s a completely useless point as military and police organizations (as opposed to individual officers) are exempt from the laws on automatic weapons. The may be converting them because there’s no reason to have automatic weapons and not to escape some regulation.

    • You are a fine example of just how few FFLs actually know the first thing about firearms law beyond filling out a 4473.

      The rifles remain “machine guns” so far as BATF is concerned. They were transferred to the police department on a Form 10 and can not be sold to anyone else. It’s perfectly legal for a department to replace the select-fire trigger group with a semi-auto trigger group and then issue the rifle to an officer for on-duty use.

  19. Technical questions.
    Having read there to be a difference in the bolts used in M16’s and semi-auto AR’s, and the bolt being part of what makes an M16 capable of full auto fire, will a bolt for a semi-auto AR work in an M16? And if so, would using a semi-auto bolt functionally convert an M16 into a semi auto?

    • It’s the bolt and the sear. A semi-auto bolt has a longer cutout than a full auto bolt to prevent it from being used in a full auto lower.

      • There are several parts unique to the full auto M16. The fire control components consisting of the hammer, disconnector, trigger, and selector lever, as well as the bolt carrier are all different than their AR-15 counterparts. All of these M-16 parts can function in an AR-15, but still not result in “reliable” full auto without an auto sear, for which there is no semi-auto variant. What truly makes a M-16 lower receiver a NFA item (subject to registration as per the National Firearms Act as a machine gun) is the fact that the lower receiver is drilled for the auto sear, whereas, the AR-15 has no auto sear, nor is it drilled for one. Any lower with M-16 markings, (produced as a machine gun), or drilled for the auto sear for the purposes of a conversion to full auto, is a machine gun forever, even if the M-16 components have been removed. The military M-16’s described in this news article no doubt have either the M-16 designation, or have been factory drilled for the auto-sear, therefore, they can never be converted legally to semi-auto. By the way, the BATFE takes the position that an AR-15 with even ONE M-16 part is a machine gun, so make sure your AR-15 does not have any of these parts, or you can be convicted of a 10 year federal felony!

        • More disinformation.

          It is perfectly legal to use an M16 bolt group in an AR15. Most semi-auto AR15s leave the factory with M16 bolt groups these days. Even Colt doesn’t bother with their cut-away bolt carrier any longer.

  20. “Why Do The Philadelphia Police Have 1,356 Full-Auto M-16s?”

    The answer must be what I’m always hearing: Because they’re meant to kill as many people as possible in the shortest possible time.

  21. The Philly police could use the rifles in the case of invasion by a foreign power (odds?) or full out civil insurrection. Its common for Americans to believe that the ability to rebel against our government is a check on abuse of government power and a legitimate 2nd Amendment justification for having firearms. That being said, even if you believe that is true, it’s possible that the faction engaged in the insurrection is a faction that is on the other side of your beliefs. In that case, you would want your police department to have automatic weapons. Nothing is simple when it comes to gun issues.

  22. They don’t know what criminal statute they can use to ban ownership of firearms by the citizens either, but whatever it is they will find it, eventually. They need 1356 full auto M-16s because it is Philadelphia. The rifle was most likely stolen by a cop, or someone with free access to the firearms (duh). I hope those “Vietnam Era” M-16s work better for them than they did for us, conversion or not.

  23. Guessing the Cops need these because their citizens have had all their guns taken away or restricted but the criminals, of course, still have firepower. Would be much better to allow their citizens to arm themselves. Then, maybe these automatic weapons would not be needed. Chances are the police will never get there in time to use them anyway, in most cases. Another example of the government wasting taxpayer money for useless firepower to look like they are accomplishing something and get political points while doing very little to solve the actual problems.

  24. cops receive military hardware for one reason and one reason only. remember that civilian national security force talked about by Obama, well there you have it. almost all large city police depts have liberal chiefs. it is the feds way of keeping control of local communities so that the feds can concentrate on areas that resist attempts at control. american economy is going to get really bad in the months ahead. foreign governments are about to lower the boom on money lending to the US. when that occurs inflation is going to skyrocket and huge layoffs and firings will begin. `also, huge numbers of muslims from middle east warzones are being brought into the country. sooner or later this will enable a major terror effort from inside the country to start. the idea here is to commit the american people to support new draconian gun control measures in coming months. every time there is a mass shooting the liberals are increasing demands for gun control. as in Greece, america will soon have to attempt to cut back on spending or watch the nation plunge over the financial cliff. either way a majority of the american people will not willingly go along with what is coming, therefore, the feds know they must confiscate firearms or risk the rise of a strong anti-government population that will resist with deadly force directed against them. once the american people realize just how badly they have been sold out by their politicians they will explode. it is much harder to control an armed population as opposed to one that is disarmed.

  25. WB provided the best comment yet by a long shot! Thank you! Now I haven’t much to say. I will limit myself to adding one thought; consider if the following were to be true: “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. (including most child psychologist) As a youth, Barrys step father was a devout Muslim who taught him daily from the Koran and sent him to a Muslim school for YEARS where he wore the clothes head cap and prayed constantly bending over head to the ground to Allah. Barrys mentors were Muslim. As Barak fooled us on his health plan so assume he did on his core beliefs. Oddly enough, most people in America and the rest of the world are fearing that he is much more Muslim than Christian, a fact he hid well as he ran for president. Add this to comment of wb.

Leave a Reply

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