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Do the police carry FULL AUTO weapons?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by elano, May 10, 2011.

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  1. elano

    elano Member

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    Since us regular citizens have to jump through hoops to own a full auto firearm, I was wondering if cops have the same restrictions? I occasionally see m16s, etc in their patrol cars. Just curious if they are full auto or not.
     
  2. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    Depends on the department. At mine, the rank and file patrol officers don't. To my knowledge only SWAT officers at my department are authorized to carry class 3 firearms.

    -Jenrick
     
  3. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

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    Um
    For a cop to carry a FA, he is issued one from his DEPARTMENT
    as a cop, he's not special, and would have to undergo the same process to purchase a legal FA for PERSONAL use.

    BUT, his department gets surplus FA and Burst M-16's and M4 from the DOD at the outrageous price of---- about $25 each.
     
  4. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    Most agencies will require a officer to use a department issued FA firearm due to tarining and liability issues. I'm sure there are some that allow personally owned FA weapons. Generally the larger the agency the more rules.

    BUT, his department gets surplus FA and Burst M-16's and M4 from the DOD at the outrageous price of---- about $25 each.


    I think its been some time since agencies were offered FA weapons for $25. I do know refurbished M16s were being sold for about $125 in the mid 90s. Many agencies acquiring these modified them to fire semi only.
     
  5. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    I have reason to believe the sheriff's department where I live has a full-auto weapon or more.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2011
  6. rc109a

    rc109a Member

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    The agency owns them, but they issue them to their officers. I am sure there are some officers who own FA, but most would never think about carrying their own in case it was seized as evidence after a shooting.
     
  7. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    Where I work, FA is restricted to the SWAT guys. Us common folk are issued a semi-auto M4.

    I am aware of a very small agency in a mountain town near here that issues fully auto M16 rifles. For most situations, I believe this is a really bad idea.
     
  8. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    In the US, full auto arms are usually seen only in unusual situations: hostage stand-off, etc. The only time I have seen a full auto in police hands on the street was when the police had a local desperado holed up in the attic of a house on the other block; that was fifty years ago and the weapons were Thompsons.

    What's amusing is to read the reaction of US travelers to the UK to seeing British police carrying submachineguns at security checkpoints.
     
  9. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    At one time, police had exemptions from the NFA. In fact, an acquintance of my stepdad was a civilian bank guard who bought a Thompson under an exemption. Years later, after he retired, the feds showed up and told him we noted you had a Thompson, where is it? Apparently when he retired, the exemption no longer applied, and they took the gun.

    NFA rules on law enforcement use of Title II firearms have tightened up considerably since the 1950s. (The story I heard was that a properties clerk somewhere was using Form 10s to sell confiscated MGs to collectors out of a department's evidence locker when they were still needed for evidence, so tighter rules were imposed on everyone.) Today cops are probably expected to account for their full-autos as much if not more so than anyone. No off-paper MGs. Law enforcement departments may be exempt from transfer taxes, but the records keeping is strict.

    I have seen more semi-auto "assault weapons" in police hands (AR15, Commando Mark III semi-auto "tommy gun", etc) than full-auto assault rifles or submachineguns, and that has not been many at all. Departments tend to not approve of official use of privately owned weapons on patrol duty, other than an approved backup handgun.
     
  10. Sebastian the Ibis
    • Contributing Member

    Sebastian the Ibis Member

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    I don't see it. Suppose there was a tiny rural PD where all the officers were gun nut buddies who wanted to carry all sorts of crazy stuff. Why would they buy registered MG's for $10k plus, when they could buy brand new post 86 weapons for 1/10 the price through the department.
     
  11. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    As others have explained, it is no easier for an individual police officer to purchase/own a machine gun than it is for you or I. A law enforcement department or agency may own full-auto weapons, and may issue them to their officers, but those belong to the agency.

    Certainly there are instances of small-town agencies staffed and chiefed by gun nuts (or just nuts ;)) who do carry around full-auto weapons. But those are pretty rare. Also, there are police special weapons teams (SWAT) that can be issued submachine guns or assault rifles for certain situations.

    But the average officer issued a patrol carbine is not carrying a full-auto weapon. (The guns may be surplussed M-16s/M-4s but with the full-auto fire controls removed.) One reason is training: Most departments have very little time and money for training their officers with their daily-carried handguns, and a relatively small portion of that already small allotment goes to instructing them on using a rifle or shotgun. There is nowhere near the sufficient time and money to instruct the average officer on the effective use of a full-auto weapon -- nor the understanding of when or under what conditions it might be appropriate to use that capability.

    The other reason is lack of need: Remember that even in a "North Hollywood" situation where the killer/robber is firing a fully automatic weapon, the appropriate response from law enforcement does NOT warrant firing back at him with full-auto fire. While a bad guy can spray the street with stray rounds without concern, a law enforcement officer needs to take precise single shots to maximize their effect and minimize collateral damage. Military use of full-auto fire on the battlefield has almost no legitimate analogies in the civilian world, and the few instances where it may tend to be the sort of high-profile and exceedingly rare instances where specially trained teams are called in to handle an especially dangerous situation.
     
  12. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    To Post #10. The 1986 Hughes Amendment that froze the civilian registry drove registered MG prices into the $10,000s range.

    In 1985, you could find registered Stens or Reisings at prices ($150 to $200) close the tax stamp required to transfer registration ($200).
     
  13. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Full auto weapons for special units (hopefully with serious training and use rules...) have been around for lots of years. The SRT unit for my old department (max size for us was just under 100 officers) was equipped with HK Mp5's. Any Chief of Police has to be very cautious about this kind of gear since the potential for a career ending incident (for the Chief, if no one else..) is very high. Many outfits have their swat or srt units handling hazardous warrant service and as back up during dope deals since while reducing risk to ordinary officers, it also provides a regular workout and augments their training regimen. Not much use having a unit that never gets used until that "once in a lifetime" event....

    That said, it can very, very easily get out of hand.... my outfit had srt on scene for a dope deal that was set to go in a shopping center parking lot (it was the kind of thing that's my absolute Miami favorite --- no one brought dope, no one brought money.... both sides brought guns. The supposed dealers were actually rippers, heavily armed.

    I was called out that night after things went badly, to do an on-site inspection and report. Briefly, what happened is that the good guys watched the "dealers" approach after dropping off two extra guys a half block away. As everyone approached the deal site on foot, weapons were drawn and a serious shoot out ensued, fortunately no one hit anything other than cars and buildings while ordinary folks ran for their lives... Good guys and bad guys ran for cover while uniformed srt guys pursued on foot with full auto weapons...

    I quit counting after more than 100 casings were found along the trail through the parking lot (it was about 11Pm by that point, most civilian cars had left and finding shell casings wasn't hard.... I can't remember the number of bullet holes in buildings (particularly the front facade of a night club)... The bad guys were caught, the good guys had lots to talk about (and hours of paperwork...).

    My recommendations to my Chief were simple. We had to make sure that the rules forbid full auto while running.... and in any other than very, very controlled circumstances. Automatic weapons are great for an assault, great to defeat an armed opponent in close quarters circumstances, not very good while running and shooting, period. Can't say I miss that sort of stuff, but every now and then it did get exciting in my area....
     
  14. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, when a LEO purchases any NFA firearm for personal use they have to follow the same process as anyone else. They're not purchasing as an officer, just another citizen.

    How do you know that you're looking at an M16 or a semiauto AR-15? Selective fire weapons belong to the department/agency and are not normally issued as a patrol rifle for the rank and file uniformed officer to carry in their vehicles. They have little value to LE since their needs are different than that of a soldier.

    Selective fire weapons may be in the departmental armory, but they are usually issued to specially trained personnel.
     
  15. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    I had an M16 and a M14, yes a real M14, in the trunk of my car when I was a State Trooper. But those belonged to the state. As hso said if I wanted to buy them I would have had to jump trough the same hoops as everyone else.
     
  16. Usmc-1

    Usmc-1 Member.

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    My experience tells me only Special Ops groups inside the department usually carry FA , theres really no need to carry FA either not on regular duty!
     
  17. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    Full auto isn't an answer even on a covert mission. A recent event seems to support the idea that inside buildings, spray and pray may endanger the other team members more than the bad guys.

    Specifically, one female shot in the leg, and the primary target shot once COM and twice in the head.

    How much more in America where the survivors can sue the department for "collateral damage," meaning dead citizens - YOU - shot and killed getting off work after closing the store at the Mall, or looking out the window at your neighbor getting busted five houses down?

    Full auto is effective in open combat, against trained adversaries operating as an organized team. More bullets equals more hits equals less fighting ability to resist. In a police setting, not so much.

    It's not wrong to mention the LA shootout, even if the police officers had full auto, it would have significantly complicated crossfire issues and exponentially increased unintentional deaths due to the number of civilians trapped in vehicles or in the zone during the initial moments.

    "I see M16's" is exactly the point of the AWB - a kneejerk reaction to thinking something is a full auto weapon. In reality, they are a liability and can't be used in a lot of situations.

    There are also substantial Constitutional issues. The police derive their powers from OUR rights, therefore, if we can't have it, they personally can't have it - because we could then litigate relief from a unequal loss of our rights. That leaves the issue to whether the "State," meaning government, can have the right, which is really going off topic.

    Point being, the current view is cops can have full auto issued to them, just like soldiers, but not own one any easier than you or I. And what someone thinks they see isn't necessarily an informed view, as the AWB has so conveniently proven.
     
  18. atomchaser

    atomchaser Member

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    I can't see were full auto weapons would be useful to regular patrol officers in almost all conceviable situations. Full auto is useful in a military situation for suppressive fire on a battle field. Even in the LA case, the issue was that the responding officers didn't have any rifles at all. I don't think the fact that the bad guys had full auto made that much of a difference. It was really a rifle vs handgun/shotgun problem the cops faced.
     
  19. Jonah71

    Jonah71 Member

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    It's just my opinion, but I think a LEO should have very few limitations on what they carry. I understand the wisdom of "standard issue", but if they want to carry something else they are more comfortable with and can afford it....why not?
     
  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    I can think of a few reasons why not:

    1) Standardization of equipment. The department generally provides or specifies the gear the officers will wear/carry and provide armorer's services on that standard gear. But what about Officer Joe's 1911 that doesn't get through two mags without a stove-pipe jam? And do we have a spare mainspring for Officer George's Star in 9mm Largo? And who's going to check that the holster Officer Dave bought for his Model 66 meets the retention requirements for the department? Etc.

    2) The gun is part of the uniform. Why can't the officer wear whatever kind of tie he wants or hat or belt? There are very legitimate reasons why the visual presence of a peace officer is standardized. One black handgun might look just like any other to some people, but a 6" chrome revolver won't, and that detracts from the uniform.

    3) Training. The average officer might not get a whole lot of training compared to some civilian shooters, but the department is responsible for ensuring some level of competency in every officer. If that's all with one model of gun, that's a whole lot easier than if this guy has trouble making his P7 squeeze-cocker go, and that guy can't get off a revolver reload in under 20 seconds, and the other fellow doesn't always get the grip safety depressed on his Custom Carry 1911, and on and on. There are so few training dollars and hours, the only hope of achieving baseline universal competence is through standardization.

    4) Liability. This is the big one. Law officers repeatedly and even routinely will be in court over use of force. That use of force has to closely follow the department's guidelines for the officer to be indemnified against personal liability for his actions. That means being able to testify before the judge that Officer Bill used the standard-issue gun, with the standard-issue ammo, in a manner that followed the department's rules of engagement. Further, the officer's account will be challenged and may be subject to testing to establish whether what he said happened is borne out by the evidence and by the results of tests simulating the encounter. That means, again, using the department's gun and the department's ammo to gather comparative gunshot residue or other critical data. Further, while such concerns may be overblown for the defense-minded civilian, an officer who chooses to carry a personal firearm that does not meet or conform to the standards of the department is immediately opening himself to being placed in an extremely negative light in a hearing. When the department issues every officer a .40 caliber Glock sidearm, but Officer Calahan chooses to carry a .44 Magnum, he's going to be fighting a completely unnecessary uphill legal battle every time he clears leather.
     
  21. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    In my town only the SWAT team does.
     
  22. eye5600

    eye5600 Member

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    Sorry, don't get it. The military does their best to teach infantry that FA is not the best way to go. I just don't see any situation in which FA fire is appropriate for a LEO.
     
  23. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    The only reason I had an M14 in my trunk was because it would penetrate a windshield better than the M16. The M16 was for everything the shotgun couldn't do. We were instructed to never use the weapons in FA mode.
     
  24. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

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    Right, and on the other hand, buying from the FEDs, a FA M16 is like 25 dollars (surplus, supposedly) when a new LE contract gun will cost hundreds, that was one excuse that has been used, they carry FA, cause it's SO MUCH CHEAPER...
     
  25. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    The state of CO traded 3 Thompsons for 1 M16 back in the 80's. Talk about a bad deal...
     
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