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“With all the current attacks on law enforcement, some would say that ‘times sure have changed’ — but they haven’t,” Mike Rayburn writes at policeone.com. “There’s always been this underlying disdain for law enforcement, and not just by the criminal element within our society. We’ve all dealt with ‘respectable people’ who turn into vicious animals given the right stimuli. Whether that be drugs, alcohol, or just getting a speeding citation.” Us vs. them much? Anyway, “us” wants rifles . . .

Because we can’t predict when and where these violent criminals — armed with heavy duty firepower — will strike next, we need to be prepared for them at all times. That means every officer, regardless of rank, title, or position, needs to have a patrol rifle available to them at all times, and they need to be trained in the proper use of it.

That training needs to include urban rifle skills. The 300-yard shot on the range is nice, but the realities of the street dictate that we learn to use the patrol rifle in close quarters. The reality of the street is that officer involved shootings, even those involving rifles/long guns, happen at much smaller distances . . .

Think about this for a minute. The last time you pulled your patrol rifle out of your car, was it for a 300-yard shot, in the dark, where you could barely make out the perpetrator? Or where you involved in a vehicle stop where the distance was a few car lengths, if that? Maybe you were entering a building, where the distance was in feet, not yards.

Our training needs to reflect the realities of the street. We need to be able to shoot accurately while moving. We need to be able to identify cover, and how to properly use it with a rifle, because in some cases it’s different from using cover with your handgun. Every officer needs to be trained in single officer, two man, and multiple officer movement and tactics.

I don’t see any problem with every cop in the U.S. having immediate access to an AR-15 or similar rifle. I’m all about training the po-po how to use their rifles effectively. But I do wonder if the cops are moving closer and closer to a military mindset. Like this:

We, as law enforcement officers, need to adopt the same mindset as that of the Marine Corps when it comes to job titles. In the Marine Corps, everyone, regardless of rank, is a rifleman first and foremost. The “job” he does in the Marines comes second. We’re civilian law enforcement, so our “job” to protect and serve comes first, but we need to have the mindset that each and every one of us is also a rifleman. We need to be equipped and trained as such.

If we’re talking armed confrontation, I would’ve thought cops need to be hand-gunners first — given that most Boys in Blue don’t patrol with patrol rifles. And while I reckon law enforcement will leave the hard core “this is my rifle” stuff to the SWAT teams, I worry that they won’t. Am I wrong?

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76 Responses to Police One: Cops Should Be Riflemen First

  1. I want them to have patrol rifles and be proficient with them also. I just wish those up the chain of command saw the common sense in letting all us non sworn “officers” have the same freedom.

    It may be time to make all police admin jobs be elected spots. Like county sheriffs.

    • Seriously. Cop or no cop, everyone has the right to protect life with a rifle. A modern military rifle. Funny when cops get killed by extreme folks, everyone of all political views wants the cops to be well armed. How many more citizens does any country have to lose for government sheep to say yes, everyone deserves a chance at life and the same fire power.

      • Cops don’t have rights, they have delegated privileges. The citizens can change them when we see fit.

      • No cop has ever morphed into power asshole. People who work for your government are just your neighbors who needed jobs, of those, you would hope they gave the right job to the right neighbor. If they ever find themselves in a position that can separate themselves from that idea, they need to pack their sh_t and go home and get a different job.

        Every citizen needs to be a rifleman first, and generally good in arms, in case their neighbors who needed jobs think they might need to go Marine on you and yours.

    • If you want that “right” (which is really all citizens’ right under the second amendment), move to Texas. There is no restriction on carrying a long gun down here.

      I catch the drift of many of these posts. I get it. We all believe that the police should not be able to do something that the normal citizenry should not, and I agree. Here are my thoughts on the topic of the author’s article. I think the author’s meaning was that if officers learn to use a rifle and to have a rifleman mentality, it will translate to the rest of the force tactics in a beneficial way. In the same way, every man in our society should do the same. It is our duty under the constitution to be a well-regulated militia, and the responsibility to maintain readiness falls squarely on our own shoulders.

      In the ridiculous liberal bastions that chip away at the second amendment rights of the people, the citizens should be resisting in every non-violent way possible. Protest new anti-gun legislation. Make voting for pro-gun candidates the highest priority. Educate your family and you neighbors about the value of owning a gun and knowing how to use it. Speak out against the false propaganda that is used to push the false narrative that more guns = more violence. Even speak out against the false narrative that is being pushed by the BLM movement and the media that the police are systemically racist and violent. If your second amendment rights and the ability to protect your family really mean that much to you, MOVE OUT OF ANTI-GUN STATES like New York and California, and move to pro-2nd amendment states like Texas and Arizona. Make the states that try to take away your rights suffer. It’s not doing anyone any good to for people to sit here and whine about it in the comments section of this article. That is the main problem with our country today. The average citizen whines about everything, but takes action and/or responsibility for NOTHING.

      • The nice part about moving out of NY, is all you have to do is cross the Southern border into PA. Besides the stupid hunting restrictions, the Commonwealth is a pro-gun paradise.

  2. Cops should not be allowed to do anything regular citizens can’t. If they want to purchase a patrol rifle on their own dime and write it off as a business expense, feel free. But until the 1986 ban is lifted, they should be restricted from getting select fire weapons like everyone else.

    • I don’t see the need for law enforcement to have select fire weapons, anyway. Certainly their need for such weaponry is no greater than mine.

    • ^ This, right here.

      Can you imagine the carnage in NYC with those (not so) sharp shooters armed with select-fire weapons? (with added 12lb FCGs, of course)

    • Considering the rounds fired to hit ratio I’ve read in the reports and on the news. Maybe they need the ability to fill the air with lead to neutralize the threat.

      It’s not like us normal people where if we hit someone other then the threat then we have the very real likelihood of going to jail.

      Respectfully Submitted

    • If departments want to give officers semi auto ARs that cool. When I went through patrol rifle school it was a week long and was better training than I got as an Army infantryman.

      We’ve asked at my department several times if we can use our own to save money/get immediate access to rifles and it always gets shot down. Brass thinks it’s a liability issue. Lame.

      • I’m a CO of a Rifle Company in the PA Army National Guard, and one of my PLs is an Allentown police officer. They allow their officers to purchase their own patrol rifles, I believe having to fulfill some minimal guidelines. He also confirmed that there is absolutely no need for full auto in the police force. One of the PSGs is Scranton PD, and he agreed, but he still carries around his department-issue 12″ full-auto SBR. Because he can!

        The PSP is the same way with personal patrol rifles. Make sure it checks the required boxes, and you’re good to go.

  3. I’ve read that most cops never fire a shot in the course of duty. If they do, it stands to reason it will be from the handgun on their belt, not the long gun in their car. Have rifles handy and train to use them? Sure. Rifleman first? No.

    • Agreed. Officers should have a rifle in their car, and should know how to use it. They should also realize that it is very likely they won’t have it on their person if something bad goes down. Thus, they should focus more on their duty pistol.

  4. Is policeone.com suggesting that their “job” as protectors and servants comes second to their identity as a “rifleman?” WTF does that even mean in the context of a police officer?

    I want my police to be problem solvers, public servants, protectors, and role models. “Gunman” doesn’t make that list. Although proficiency with a firearm should be a prerequisite for the job, we’re all in deep shit when every cops starts thinking of themselves as a door-kicking baddass mutha-f**ker.

    We need more Sgt. Carl Winslow, less Det. Vic Mackey.

      • No, the author said just the opposite. “We’re civilian law enforcement, so our “job” to protect and serve comes first”

        That said… the real solution to this is going to come when we finally realize as a society that we shouldn’t be passing laws that we aren’t willing to kill to enforce.

        Drug possession, cigarette-tax evasion, speeding, jaywalking, indecent exposure,etc… Every time someone is arrested for any purpose, there’s a very real risk that they will grow agitated and the officer might be forced to display deadly force for the sake of protecting innocent life and/or limb.

        If the majority of layperson/LEO interaction were over more serious issues, I wouldn’t be nearly as skeptical over the police gearing up.

        That said… police are more likely to need to display deadly force than laypeople, and as such I think that they should have the necessary equipment and training to stop all of the present deadly threats in a quick and accurate way, so as to minimize the danger to bystanders… just as I do for the private citizen who might find himself in similar circumstances.

        • That said… the real solution to this is going to come when we finally realize as a society that we shouldn’t be passing laws that we aren’t willing to kill to enforce.

          This so much.
          If the only time officers of the law interacted with citizens was when there was a damn good reason to, attitudes would change.
          I’m a fairly successful, rural, millenial, white (privelaged) male, father, husband, and law abiding man who has serious misgivings about law enforcement officers. If law enforcement were only concerned with eliminating REAL crime instead of being collections officers of the state, then my opinion would change drastically.

        • Well said. I wish we (LEOs) weren’t tasked with all the piddly bullshit that politicians seem to think is worth arresting people over.

  5. Does this mean that cops are going to engage an active shooter in a school or nightclub rather than wait for the shooting to stop?

  6. Or maybe in addition to playing street commando these guys could take some classes on who is and isn’t a threat.

    therapist laying in the street with his hands up – “Why did you shoot me?”

    cop – “I don’t know.”

  7. Riflemen? Why? Can’t they kill enough people with their handguns?

    This kind of new cop mindset makes me nostalgic for them time when cops stole apples and took petty graft.

    • I think an officer coming up to your car with an ar in his hands for speeding or a traffic violation is going to create more problems than it will solve. I took that example to the extreme, but you know some us vs you hard charging wannabe will do it.

    • And got the job done with a six-shot Colt or S&W .38 special.

      Nothing enhances de-escalation skills like knowing for a fact you are outgunned.

  8. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Not saying cops shouldn’t have long guns, of course they should, but I can think of a good percentage of police situations that they are in where they just will not have immediate access to a long gun. Improving cops judgement skills in when to shoot, training in dealing with Autistic and or mentally challenged people without immediately shooting them, not shooting pets unless their life is threatened and becoming decent shots with a handgun would be priorities over becoming marksman with rifles.

    • Exactly.
      I am reminded of the guy camping out on the hill where the cops stormed in armed for bear and then were surprised when the guy freaked out with a knife. Bullets flew and the crazy guy was dead.
      What if one cop with a couple of lawn chairs and a bag of chips and sandwiches walked up and asked him if he would join him for some lunch? How might it have turned out differently? (I know that there’s a possibility that the cop might have ended up with a knife planted in his chest, but that can happen just walking down the street.)

  9. With great power comes great responsibility. Cops may have the tools, but the mindset behind their use is sorely lacking. Patrol rifles? Sure, but they should only be used after all other options have been exhausted. SWAT teams are not needed to raid the Gibson guitar factory for using the wrong wood species when letters in the mail and a visit from the local police chief would have sufficed.You’re a cop. Be a cop. United States Marines are “riflemen”.

    • ↑ This. Which always prompts me to wonder why the USDA and a dozen other federal agencies not normally charged with arrest powers have a SWAT team.

  10. They need to get proficient with their handguns first since the are more likely to use them in the course of their duties.

    Then have access to a rfile of some sort. If cops start thinking they need to make traffic stop and have an AR at low ready, we will have some problems.

    Whatever happened to their shotguns in their cruisers? Rifle sights and slugs could cover a whole lot of issues without needing rifle.

  11. Mr. Rayburn obviously has not looked at the other side of the coin: “There’s always been this underlying disdain for armed civilians, and not just by the law enforcement element within our society. We’ve all dealt with ‘respectable cops’ who turn into vicious animals given the right stimuli. Whether that be drugs, alcohol, or just SWAT’ing the wrong home.”

    Respect is a two way street. It’s very easy to point fingers at others and ignore the crap that’s staining your own behind.

  12. I’m on board with this as soon as the police universally get an ROE as restrictive as that imposed on our troops in Kosovo and other third world hell-holes. No shooting until you are shot at.

  13. Agree, since becoming an efficient rifleman is easier than becoming and expert with a handgun. Most cops are abhorrently incompetent in the use use of a handgun. It takes time and constant practice of a very perishable skill that most humans can never acquire even with constant practice. Rifle on the other hand, can be learned very fast and competence, once acquired, is not as perishable as pistol marksmanship.

  14. Every Marine a rifleman, no reason police cannot be as well. More than any other thing a rifleman goes into battle knowing his weapon, its capabilities and when to employ it. The most critical skill police need today is accept switching from police duties to combat with jihadist.

  15. When LE becomes something other than the fattest profession in America, then they can tote rifles. The citizens have the marksmanship covered, they should worry about their BMI.

  16. Since there is no need for suppressive fire in any reasonably likely scenario LEO’s might encounter, there’s no need for LE patrol rifles to have selective fire capability, which is why the percentage of LE Agencies issuing or authorizing the carry of full auto rifles or weapons is in the low single digits. The only possible exception might be the handful of legitimately elite federal, state, or local anti-terrorism tactical units.

    The reason no full auto weapon has a legitimate role in most LE arsenals is the same reason no M2 Heavy Machine Gun or M224 Mortar has a legitimate role, there is no such thing as acceptable collateral damage in any operation by law enforcement on American soil.

    Texas DPS Colonel Steve McCraw learned the hard way what happens when civilian law enforcement uses straight up military tactics and methods. McCraw allowed Craft International (former U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle) to convince DPS that engaging a fleeing vehicle with rifle fire from a helicopter was a good idea, Craft subsequently trained dozens DPS Officers the military technique of so called “precision” semi-auto .308 rifle fire from a moving helicopter to “disable” a fleeing vehicle, the technique worked like gangbusters right up to the moment helicopter airborne DPS Trooper Miguel Avila lit up a fleeing pickup he assumed to be laden with drugs, but in fact had a truck-bed load of illegal aliens, the result was two dead Guatemalans and that completely unacceptable collateral damage death toll would surely have been quadrupled had DPS become convinced to employ a light machine gun from the helicopter instead of the semi-auto AR-10 LaRue they ultimately chose. McCraw was forced to put a halt to engaging fleeing vehicles from a helicopter after near unanimous nationwide condemnation and ridicule of Texas DPS by scores of other reputable LE Agencies who knew better.

    The overwhelming majority of AR rifles available through the Department of Defense surplus program to U.S. LE agencies are converted to semi-auto only by the agency receiving them before being re-issued to their LEO’s for patrol use.

    Every LEO in the U.S. should carry a quality patrol rifle with quality optics whether department issued or personally owned. Every responsible lawful citizen in the U.S. who wants a modern sporting rifle like the AR with high capacity mags should be able to own one and have reasonable access to the weapon for defensive use.

    The false assumption that most LE patrol rifles are selective fire is a myth cop haters seem to enjoy repeating to themselves as is the assumption that most LEO’s want or even believe a selective fire weapon is appropriate or necessary for the law enforcement mission, they don’t. Same goes for the myth that most LEO’s oppose civilian ownership of modern sporting rifles like the AR or high capacity magazines, might be a good line of bull$#it to bounce off your cop hating buddies, but it’s simply not true.

    • Same goes for the myth that most LEO’s oppose civilian ownership of modern sporting rifles

      Ownership’s okay, but actually ‘bearing arms’ like Open Carry not so much…amiright, Ted?

      Seriously, man…you made some excellent points. With a post like that, it just becomes a bit of a head scratcher how you can sound all “rah rah, Go Freedom” like this and other times rank on OC like it’s worse than black plague.

      Apply the same logic you are using here in regard to ‘AR Ownership’ to OC and maybe you’ll find it’s not the evil bogeyman it is portrayed as.

      • Now JR you know better than that, I support the OC privilege here in Texas even though I remain convinced that with few exceptions, only a dumb@$$ opts for open carry instead of concealed. Good news is that most Texans who obviously feel the same way, it’s been 8 months since OC became Texas law and with several trips to the Houston and Corpus Christi areas and multiple trips to the DFW metroplex I’ve yet to see in person anyone who’s opted for open carry in those locals or anywhere here in East Texas, not one. I’ll be sure and let you know when I finally make that rare sighting.

    • “The false assumption that most LE patrol rifles are selective fire is a myth cop haters seem to enjoy repeating to themselves as is the assumption that most LEO’s want or even believe a selective fire weapon is appropriate or necessary for the law enforcement mission, they don’t.”

      The point isn’t that it’s rare. The point is that certain departments do authorize and issue select fire rifles to their officers and that this is unacceptable because it’s a direct violation of equality before the law. It shouldn’t happen even once. If we can’t have it than neither should the cops.

      Further, the fact that any department issues such a rifle is prima facie evidence that gun control doesn’t work. Either the cops don’t need it because gun control works or they do need it because gun control doesn’t work.

      • You go now strych9! I recommend you lobby the local government officials and legislators in your area first to kick off the crusade to disarm law enforcement and bring a halt to such full auto armed disparity no matter how insignificant. Or of course you could always go the armed insurrection and/or revolution route instead. Either way, I’m sure the Black Lives Matter folks and anarchists in your area will be down for the cause!

        • Ah, you’re one of “those” people. Not interested in an actual discussion just out to be an asshole.

          Since you have nothing to offer other than whatever happens to stroke your own ego at the moment, and insist on using strawman arguments to do so; further posts under your current name will be summarily ignored.

    • All?

      Well, given Carolyn McCarthy’s demonstrated ignorance of the basic PARTS of a rifle, I’m not sure I agree with “all.”

      Or what about Gersh? We wouldn’t want him falling into panic induced paralysis or die of fright, would we? He’s better to stick with his melon baller I should think.

  17. “I don’t see any problem with every cop in the U.S. having immediate access to an AR-15 or similar rifle.”

    I do, because the police routinely show that they lack the self discipline to use their weapons appropriately. I say until they show that they can be trusted to use their guns appropriately, traffic cops get a taser only (you don’t need a gun to write speeding tickets), patrol cops get a .357 magnum revolver, and when circumstances require more firepower, they can have their overpriced SWAT team called in.

    As much as police refuse to accept it, they work for the people and when you routinely show your boss that you’re incompetent at your job, you don’t get to complain when they discipline you. Hell, ideally I’d say we abolish every police department and fire every copy in the country and instead use the tax revenue to pay for private security firms to take over police functions. At least one location has done this and saw a massive decrease in misconduct and I believe a decrease in expenses as well (it’s been a while since I read the article on it).

    • Publius do you think abolishing all Police and Fire Departments will be sufficient to really get rid of all those public servants you so despise? What happens if those private security firms start hiring back all those out of work police officers and firefighters? Do you think maybe a Stalin like purge of all police and fire personnel might be necessary for the final solution? Too funny!

      • No wonder you’re an asshole. You can’t read for shit.

        He never said anything about fire departments. Fuck off and troll elsewhere until you can read at a third grade level.

        • strych9 your measured intellectual responses really bolster all that deep thought you manage to contribute to a topic. It’s always entertaining to see how the radical cop hating anti authority types and anarchists drawn to this forum react when called out on their radical idiocy.

  18. As Boston T. Party said “A handgun is merely a weapon used to fight your way back to your rifle – which you shouldn’t have left behind in the first place”.

  19. The police are not Marines. Sure they should be able to defend themselves against criminals and be able to switch to an aggressive role if they come upon a jihadi, lunatic, or other serious threat to public safety. But they are not at war in (choose your third world country). We, the citizens and taxpayers, are not their enemy. If they view us as their enemy, then their blind allegiance to the politicians has made it so. Prohibition, the War on Drugs, MADD, the Nixonian National Maximum Speed Limit, revenue speed traps, firearms laws in northeastern states and California, etc. etc. are what have turned the police and the citizens against each other. That is not what America is supposed to be. It is the hallmark of a dictatorship.

  20. Whatever. I have disdain for them because I know who I am and what I’m doing, and it’s none of their business. They enforce unconstitutional laws and steal my money for “speeding”. That’s the extent of my face to face dealings with them.

  21. I don’t have a problem with police officers being trained to use a rifle and have one in the trunk of their car, so long as they also have a plate carrier and no excuses for not engaging active shooters immediately.

    My concern is that cops will deploy their rifles all the time. I once had a roommate get our apartment raided, and twenty cops came through the door. Third guy in had an AR and I just started laughing at him.

    • Yes. Big boy shit implies no more stories like the police waiting outside for three hours while the active shooter goes about his business.

  22. “Our training needs to reflect the realities of the street.”

    And that reality is………….that you’re extremely likely to go your entire career without ever discharging your duty weapon, or even unholstering it more than a few times, let alone get in an urban free fire zone or house-to-house firefight with ISIS or BLM.

    So slow your roll, Robodork. Your average patrol on traffic duty, aka, tax collector for the welfare state, doesn’t need anything more than the G17 on his belt and good ol’ 12 gauge in the cruiser.

  23. Step 1: Call yourselves “warriors” and execute innocent people with near zero consequences.

    Step 2: Observe that people hate you and want to kill you back.

    Step 3: Tell anyone that will listen that you need military hardware and training, because people are trying to kill you for some reason that you can’t fathom.

    #amidoinitright?

  24. Should they have a rifle in the trunk, just in case? Yes. But this is for situations such as active shooter incidents, where they have to go in right there and then, and need the extra firepower.

    For regular carry, I’d rather see police armed with some kind of pistol or SMG-like carbine that can be holstered and drawn, but that also has a folding or telescoping stock such that it can be shouldered for more accurate fire – if only because better accuracy means fewer stray bullets. Something like this:

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/06/28/tfb-exclusive-brugger-thomet-universal-service-weapon/

  25. There are a lot of skills every police officer should have. That’s why we have police academies. Riflemanship (riflemanry?) is pretty damned far down on the list, however.

  26. Oh, of course this makes complete sense. They should also wear camo uniforms and they’ll need a helmet too. Don’t forget ceramic body armor. Department issued Oakley sunglasses. Next they’ll have to patrol in groups of six or so in an armored truck. Nothing’s too good for (fill in the blank’s) finest.

  27. Police and soldiers have very different jobs, and you usually don’t want one trying to do the job of the other. MP’s excepted, because they are both.

  28. “Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” – General James Mattis, a Marine’s Marine if there ever was one.

  29. As a retired LEO and NRA Police Firearms Instructor I say this:

    The odds of any single officer needing to use a rifle is almost insignificant.
    Most departments issue and officers have ready access to shotguns, a more versatile platform for most needs.
    The vast majority of officers have little training past their academy experience and often don’t practice on their own and struggle to qualify as required once or twice a year.
    The sheer expense of training and equipping all officers with a system they would never likely need is wasteful.
    This is the reason for SWAT teams. (Special Weapons And Tactics) Remember the Special Weapons part.

  30. Police officers should be peace officers first. Not revenue generators. Not beholden to quotas. Held to a higher standard than other citizens in the execution of their position while being held to the same consequences of the citizens they serve.

    Making police a rifleman FIRST is not compatible with the position. Join the Marines if you want to an occupation where you must be a rifleman FIRST.

    Peace officers, not foot soldiers.

  31. A shotgun is a nice primary, a pistol is a backup. 2 3/4 00 buck/2 3/4 slug as the situation dictates. A rifle is fine for those you need to reach out and touch someone moments. Nothing says “freeze” like a shotgun. Bottom line, if you have low quality people on the job, the shotgun/rifle/pistol is not the real concern.

  32. Cops in my hometown of Marana, AZ have the option of having a semi-automatic, 16 inch AR-15 rifle in their patrol vehicle. However, they must qualify with it two times a year (along with shotgun and pistol) if they want to keep it in their vehicle. Otherwise it is optional. I also noted that they have Aimpoint red dot sights on them, but none had magnification. They told me the chief doesn’t want them to engage out farther than 100 meters (yards?) so only those sights were authorized. Which makes sense in an urban setting, but they also have to patrol vast amounts of farm and open tract land as well.

  33. There’s no issue with them having rifles generally, but like one guy points out above it would probably be wasted money. It is worth remembering crime has been steadily trending down for 30 years, and about 50-70 officers get killed on the job (out of about 800,000 in the entire country) every year. Yes, that’s too many and yes – policing is tough and the death rate ignores all the other shit they deal with. I never had to deal with that, I was a fed and investigated cases mostly from my desk.

    But they don’t need to be like Marines. They need to be competent with weapons and good tacticians, but the primary job skill for a police officer is effective communication.

  34. Any cop that has a rifle or shotgun should have proper training to use them rather than risk endangering the public by using them without proper training.

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