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I’ve railed against police militarization in the past, and will do so again in the future. My main beef: the proliferation of SWAT teams throughout the land and inappropriate deployment. At no point did I suggest that the average cop shouldn’t have immediate access to a patrol rifle. They should. And, for the most part, they do. But not in Mobile, Alabama. It seems the feds shipment of ex-military rifles to local law enforcement – under the much-criticized but still active 1033 program – delivered unto Mobile . . .

200 fully automatic M16 rifles. Like so much of the $5.1b worth of ex-mil equipment shipped into the heartland, the local force can’t afford the upkeep. Or, in this case, the conversion to semi-automatic. MPD spokesperson Officer Terence Perkins highlights the problems . . .

“Anytime you have a fully automatic weapon, you have to have a lot of training with it because after the first two or three rounds the rifle begins to rise so you lessen your accuracy with a fully automatic weapon,” said Perkins.

So the department has to convert them to semi-automatic – a timely and costly proposition.

While switching to semi has to costs a lot less than, say, running an armored vehicle, priorities! Yup, you guessed it: back in August 2014, reported that the MPD scored two Hummer Humvees, eight 2.5-ton, high-water American M352A trucks; five Chevrolet K5 Blazers and a Case M1394 tractor. Oh and 532 Colt AR15 rifles. So, what happened to the 332 full-auto Colts not mentioned in the more recent article?

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  1. The gun grabbers are all het up about the average citizen being able to buy a “scary rifle” but nobody seems to notice the military dumping thousands of surplus full autos on Barney Fife and company nationwide. How many hundreds or thousands have somehow found their way into cruiser trunks or patrol officer’s home gun safes or closets? As far as I’m concerned this is beyond stupid. Coming soon to a massacre near you.

  2. They’re in an armory waiting to be forgotten like the 2 tommy guns that were stored for generations in a police armory and then found again. With the level of violence exhibited by the jihadis they should be issued out and the officers trained up on them.

    I’ve been to mobile. Those vehicles may come in handy after the next big hurricane.

    • My dept. has 550 officers (with about 225 on the road) with 68 patrol rifles on the road. They give them primarily to former .mil, so I was lucky enough to get one.

      I pull it out for barricaded subjects with a gun, and if I respond to a call that involves a subject aggressively using/threatening to use a firearm or if a victim is recently shot and the suspect is most likely still nearby, I’ll pull the rifle out. Our active shooter protocol dictates I bust the rifle out as well. It’s also used for open field searches for armed suspects, and to assist with K9 tracks for armed robberies, shootings, and such.

      If it’s a traffic stop and the situation dictates I use a firearm that’s when the pistol comes out, as its immediately accessible.

      • If only 15% have rifles, then the other 85% surely have shotguns. It isn’t like they are just running around with pistols.

        Personally, I think shotguns and semiauto rifles are both fine for most general police work. The shotties will do most of what the rifles would. Police should also be allowed full auto only when regular people are allowed full auto.

        There is nothing seriously wrong about most officers having shotguns. I wouldn’t be opposed to them carrying 30-30s, M1 Garands, SKS, M1 carbines etc. either. These days, you can buy a decent AR15 for $500-600. That isn’t too much.

        • Shotguns are too much of an area weapon, better than full auto, but a rifle, with a default load of a non exiting round, ought to be standard (say, Ar-15, 30 round mags with a varmint round, 20 round with M855 for barricades etc).

        • If you can have rifles with situation-specific rounds, then why can’t you have “area weapon” shotguns with situation-specific shells like shot or slugs?

          I’m not so sure I’d even characterize a shotgun as an area weapon, in the context of routine police work, anyway. Area coverage itself is extremely atypical of routine police work, outside perhaps of the once in a generation rioting, which doesn’t elicit a police free fire zone, anyway.

          Regular patrolmen don’t need ARs, let alone full auto M4s. They’re generally just guys 10-20 years and 30-50 pounds past soldiers specs, but who still want to play “War”, preferably in a nice safe suburb. Good grief.

    • My department has about 130 officers, and everyone in the patrol section is requred to have a long gun in the car. There are maybe three shotguns in the entire department, mainly because the qualification is difficult and you have to bring your own, where the rifles are issued.

      There are no set requirements for when a rifle comes out, but in general, any time you think there’s a good chance of getting in a gunfight, you grab the rifle. Less likely to miss your target, faster incapacitation compared to pistol rounds, and less danger of overpenetration if you do miss (with issued .223 ammo, anyway).

      The only full auto guns around here are used by the SWAT guys, and I think there are standing orders not to use it. Either that, or just an open understanding that it’s useless for police work.

    • I sometimes feel that they should actually use them more often. If nothing else, it would at least improve accuracy.

      I wonder if it would be possible to make a dedicated LE short-barreled bullpup .300 BLK carbine out of polymer that would be small enough to actually be carried in a hip holster and shot with one hand in emergencies, while still providing all the ergonomic benefits of a shoulderable firearm for other engagements.

  3. I don’t have an issue with police having rifles, full auto or otherwise, anymore than any other civilian.

    My issues are the US vs THEM mentality, on both sides, and police not being held to a higher standard.

    I couldn’t care less about their weapons.

    • I agree that cops need to be held to high standards. The problem comes when people want a police dept to “reflect the comunity it serves”. That police force, right off the bat, is being swayed by politics and popular opinion and from there it only goes down hill.

      And ive said it before and ill say it again….. 330 million guns in the hands of 320 million American citizens vs 750,000 cops…. Also 90% of the (legally possessed) automatic weapons are in the hands of private citizens……. I thinks we’ll be okay if things go south.

    • “…and police not being held to a higher standard.”

      Heck, I’d settle for them just being held to the same standard as us regular folk.

  4. Given how cheap Colts and other reasonably decent ARs are, it might be cheaper and safer to just buy new patrol rifles rather than converting full-auto M-16s. The DoD could still give them mags and optics.

    Kudos to the Mobile PD for NOT issuing full-auto to the cops A . FWIW, I think that cops should have access to everything that is reasonably reasonably available to their fellow non-police citizens and vice versa.

    • How about having the LEOs who want an AR handy on the job spending a weekend in group 80% lower parties? They could complete the lowers, swap the parts from an M-16, and have a decent AR-15 rifle ready to rock. How expensive could that possibly be unless the cops demanded overtime for the time spent?

      • I’m not an AR guy, but I don’t think they’d need new lower receivers to convert to semi-auto. I think it’s just trigger group parts that need to be swapped out.

        And if they did need new lowers, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy a bunch of 100% receivers? 80%ers usually cost more, especially once you factor in having to buy a couple sets of jigs and tools.

        As much as I’m amused by the image of an all-cop build party, I don’t think that would make much sense. And there’s no way you’d get the city and cop-union lawyers to sign off on the police using patrol rifles they made themselves…

      • Hell, it’d be cheaper just to buy a bunch of mil-spec AR15 complete lower receivers and slap the M16 uppers on them than to buy an 80% lowers and mill them out. What I really want to know is why they were given full-auto instead of 3 round burt rifles. It’s also very easy/cheap to pin the safety selector to prevent the rifles from being able to be switched to full-auto. Why not just do that?

  5. There are plenty of law abiding citizens that don’t have those rifles either (at least with out being modified to the point of absurdity). Cry me a river.

  6. I just bought an excellent quality base level AR for less than $450 out the door. How these guys could ever say that a semi conversion is expensive just blows my mind.

  7. Does a $15 semi selector not work with a full auto trigger group?
    0$ to tell cops not to flip it twice.
    Why would any cop need full auto?
    Semi is even better than burst in my opinion.
    Rubber bullets are the only thing cops need in a full auto rifle.
    We already have enough problems with cops not ale to hit the target, why add 100 more missed rounds to the mix?
    I go to mobile every year and only see boats and beachgoers. I can’t remember the last time I saw blue lights in mobile much less a real crime. But what do I know, I don’t live there. You can’t make enough money to live there except for beach season.

  8. Timely to swap from full auto to semi? Yeah about 15 min at most once you have the parts. Those parts can be acquired at almost any gun shop.

    • Thank you! Somebody said it. This is a fifteen minute operation with, at most, fifty bucks in parts. Hell, all you really need to do is pull the auto-sear and selector, and you’re done. New selectors are CHEAP. Sounds like these guys either don’t know what they are doing or are just whining and hoping somebody will hand them what they really want. Ie they don’t want a bunch of worn-out full-auto M-16s with barrels that are probably smooth inside. They probably want somebody to feel bad for them and hand them nice new Colts or something.

  9. Civilians by federal law are not allowed to own full automatic weaponry without a rigorous paper trail. How the feds dump M16s on the nation is absolutely mind numbing. A number of the weapons will end up lost from inventory from their respective police agencies in any number of ways, not limited to officer lapses exclusively. These weapons will end up in hands of……..hypocritical irony

  10. Okay, so they don’t have rifles. Is there any actual evidence that the cops actually NEED rifles, or is the Mobile PD just butthurt that they don’t have more lethal weaponry to show off?

  11. Seems to me they should sent someone to Colts armorers school. They should have someone qualified to work on them anyway.
    Conversion to semi auto after that? Zero dollars.

  12. I think they should offer the full-auto M16s, complete with paperwork, through the CMP to civilians. We can handle the muzzle rise.

  13. There is no law saying they have to covert the rifles to semi auto fire. There is nothing preventing them being used in a police cruiser. They get a cheap full auto, then I want a cheap full auto. Repeal the national firearms act.

  14. There’s no legitimate use for full auto weapons as patrol rifles in American LE, not even 3 shot burst capability is justified since there’s no plausible scenario when it would be reasonable for LEO’s to lay down suppressive fire, that’s a military tactic that never has been and never will be an acceptable LE tactic. To suggest that it’s cost prohibitive to convert M16A2 rifles to semi auto only is complete BS. As mentioned earlier, all Mobile PD needs is a competent armorer, a bulk purchase of mil spec trigger group parts, and the conversion could easily accomplished for less than $50 per rifle. What’s glaringly obvious to anyone with a LE background is that the most likely reason few MPD officers carry patrol rifles is because their Chief, the City Manager, the City Council, or a combination of the three don’t want MPD officers carrying patrol rifles. All it would take is a policy allowing MPD officers who own an AR rifle that meets the standard for LE patrol rifles to carry their personally owned rifle just as a huge number of officers nationwide are allowed to do. Unless MPD is for some reason totally opposite of all other LE agencies in gun friendly states like Alabama, the majority of MPD officers probably already own an AR rifle that meets the standard for carry as a LE patrol rifle. Competently trained LEO’s just as competently trained civilians know that one of the most important reasons to always carry a handgun is to use it to fight your way to a rifle.

  15. M16…that’s just a toy! Each of our SWAT teams were issued a M60 machine gun! I carried the M60 assigned to me (because of my current M60 qualification in the Air Guard) everyday my Patrol Vehicle along with 1000 rounds of belted 7.62 x 51 in assault packs. Never shot it in anger. I did mount it a couple times in the pintle mount on our Armored Peacekeeper to get folks attention while doing a manhunt for a cop killer in the hood. It was mounted and ready for the Apocalypse January 31st, 1999. That sure was a sight …our Armored Truck sitting in the parking lot of the Outback Steakhouse while we ate or last supper of 1999 waiting to see if the world was going to end at midnight. I sure miss the old days!

  16. “200 fully automatic M16 rifles.”

    Sorry, Robert; but the 1033 Program required that all the surplus M16A1 rifles be “detuned” to Semi-Automatic function only before being released to the civilian LEOs.

    Of course, as ATF holds: “Once a Machine Gun, Always a Machine Gun”….

  17. I was a trial court judge in Mobile for 18 years until 6 months ago.

    I am very much against the militarization of police but consideration the crime here and what happens when a hurricane hit, it may be wise just leaving those M-16s full auto.


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