Arming New York City Police with Machine Guns

I have mixed feelings about this:

The NYPD wants all 1,000 Police Academy recruits trained to use M4 automatic machine guns - which are now carried only by the 400 cops in its elite Emergency Service Unit - in time for the holiday celebration in Times Square.

On the one hand, deploying these weapons seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, training is almost never a bad thing.

Oh, and in case you were worried:

There is no intelligence Times Square will be a target on New Year's Eve. The area will be on high alert, but has been so for every year since the millennium.

Posted on December 16, 2008 at 3:43 PM • 88 Comments

Comments

HJohnDecember 16, 2008 3:54 PM

@: "On the one hand, deploying these weapons seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, training is almost never a bad thing."

Hopefully, they won't deploy them unless necessary. Having the recruits trained to use them ahead of time is probably a good idea, since they may not have much notice in the event it is necessary.

@: "Oh, and in case you were worried: There is no intelligence Times Square will be a target on New Year's Eve. The area will be on high alert, but has been so for every year since the millennium."

Can't accuse them of fear mongering here. May not be a bad thing to be on high alert given the number of people there, and it doesn't hurt for would-be perpetrators to know the area is on high alert (if for no other reason than to deter them). Hindsight finger pointers would have a field day if they didn't have the area on alert.

Merry Christmas!

But no, I'm not worried.

Frank Ch. EiglerDecember 16, 2008 4:04 PM

"Oh, and in case you were worried: ... There is no intelligence Times Square will be a target on New Year's Eve."

That's a non-sequitur. One does not worry solely about things about which specific threatening intelligence has been published.

kiwanoDecember 16, 2008 4:08 PM

That "machine gun" looks an awful lot like an assault rifle to me. I mean where's the tripod (or even bipod) and the cooling system on that thing? And it's magazine fed too!

Sure the thought of the cops packing assault rifles around Times Square at NYE is pretty creepy, but it's nowhere near half as creepy as the thought of them setting up machine gun positions as if the revellers are some sort of infantry platoon just waiting to storm, well, something.

GorgasalDecember 16, 2008 4:10 PM

"training is almost never a bad thing" - opportunity costs! People spending time (and ammo) at the shooting range don't spend time learning something else (or actually on the streets).

KerubDecember 16, 2008 4:21 PM

in Italy we have cops armed with (open bolt firing) machine guns.

less secure than (locked bolt firing) assault rifles/carbines.

not that big problem.

training, political control, public opinion awareness: that is the problem.

Dio GratiaDecember 16, 2008 4:26 PM

You could note the National Guard's equipping automatic rifles with burst selectors in urban deployments, the idea being to prevent shame fire massacres.

A bit of a slippery slope - the same thinking that demonstrates the necessity of automatic weapons easily extends to close air support and gunships.

Blake SobiloffDecember 16, 2008 4:30 PM

The M4 isn't properly categorized as a machine gun; it's a true "assault rifle", or more correctly, a select-fire (semi- or full-auto) carbine. An M249 is an example of a machine gun that uses the same caliber as the M4. (But enough of the pedantics.)

M4s have very little utility to individuals operating alone, as the best use of automatic weapons is for providing covering fire to allow others to move forward while suppressing opposing fire. This isn't a typical situation that any police officer would be involved in, and it's for those extraordinary situations that you'd call in SWAT. It sounds like the NYPD just got another Homeland Security grant and wants to spend the money on more illusions of security.

Patrick HenryDecember 16, 2008 4:42 PM

Normal cops should not have machine guns.

BUT there should be SWAT and similar squads at the ready with the best damned weaponry available -- in case of criminals or terrorists appear with such weapons. From the Mumbai attacks all the way back to those two bank armored machine gun toting bank robbers in LA, it is necessary to have a force to combat such things.

But not regular beat cops. No way.

The most important thing, though, is for every power the police have to be checked and balanced, to be fair and transparent policing of the police. This is typically where America fails.

HJohnDecember 16, 2008 4:45 PM

@: "It sounds like the NYPD just got another Homeland Security grant and wants to spend the money on more illusions of security."

Or perhaps part of the training is for those who aren't SWAT (or aren't using the weapons) but may be around the weaons to know how to behave in situations that include them.

Not really the same thing, but when I worked six years as in the kitchen of a hospital, I had training on various things that I never had to do. Part of it was preparation in case the situation demanded it, and part of it was knowledge in the event I was near a situation. Things like CPR, handling certain things during emergency evac, etc. I seldom was around patients directly, but if for whatever reason there was an evacuation, being aware of protocol in the event of one, when everyone was busy and a nurse yelled "I need some help moving this patient," having able bodied young people aware of what to do could not have been a bad thing.

ChrisDecember 16, 2008 4:48 PM

Concentrating on the "machine gun" aspect of this is really missing the point. Aside from covering fire (which has little application for law enforcement) fully automatic fire really isn't that useful. However, the fact that these police are being trained to use rifles is a pretty big increase in capability. Rifles are easier to shoot accurately, have a longer effective range, and pack a lot more punch than a pistol or shotgun. In fact, most U.S. police agencies that deploy M4 type rifles use weapons without selective fire capability.

SamDecember 16, 2008 4:56 PM

Because a spray of automatic gunfire is the ideal tool for picking off select targets in an area crowded with civilians.

AntiDecember 16, 2008 5:04 PM

Sounds pretty horrific to me. People with machine guns on the streets creates the feeling of a warzone or something. Just imagine what happens when a policeman uses one of these in a criminal incident situation? And I tought I was scared of terrorists ..

AnonymousDecember 16, 2008 5:48 PM

Why not just use handgernades for taking out select targets in a crowd?

About the same result as a machine gun. GRR.

This really is a trip.

This really is a $ kickback deal. I'd just love the lawsuit against whoever when things go south.

Moshe YudkowskyDecember 16, 2008 5:50 PM

As I've noted elsewhere, the Israelis found that it took 10,000 bullets to kill one enemy soldier in the Yom Kippur War. In an urban setting, it's appropriate to ask where the other 9,999 bullets will go -- in fact, the Israelis did ask that question, and the M1 rifle was the weapon of choice for Civil Guard and similar civilian police forces.

However if you read the article carefully, you'll note that the newspaper conflated training with New Years instead of, e.g., "end of fiscal year 2008" or "end of training cycle." That is, they put the most sensational face possible on the report. Furthermore, there's no indication that the police intend to deploy these weapons in the hands of their most inexperienced officers. Instead, the police are looking forward, appropriately, to an emergency situation should someone attempt to mount a copycat attack. And as you might imagine the police have to train all their officers, as there is no telling who will have to respond.

VoxDecember 16, 2008 5:55 PM

Training is definitely a good thing. First, to improve safe weapons handling (negligent discharges are a BAD thing). Second, in the stress of a gunfight, one doesn't aim as carefully or think as clearly. Unless you start with a high level of training, past shootouts suggest things will degenerate to an unacceptable level.

Using the M4 platform in general is probably not a bad thing. They are easier to handle, aim, and shoot than shotguns or handguns. Also, most 5.56 ammunition will penetrate less than heavy handgun rounds or shotgun loads. Overpenetration should always be a concern in urban settings.

If these were semiautomatic only M4s like civilians own, the aforementioned reasons would be fairly compelling in my opinion.

I wonder, though, if it is prudent or even effective to issue select fire weapons so broadly (as it appears they are contemplating). Under most circumstances, without a very high level of officer training, I think both police and public would probably be better served by issuing semiautomatic carbines. While squeezing the trigger every time makes it a little harder to shoot rapidly, it makes precision and control of your shots a lot easier. That is assuming they are well trained enough not to yank the trigger (which isn't good for accuracy).

Another thing training should help with is keeping the fire selection switch on 'Safe' and not accidentally switching to 'Auto' instead of 'Semi'...

HypnagogueDecember 16, 2008 5:56 PM

Someone has been suckered into fretting over a movie-plot security issue -- because everyone knows that "automatic machine guns" are extra special bad.

Newsflash -- a select-fire M4 is no more dangerous than a semi-auto AR-15 or even Grandpa's .30-30. Get shot with a rifle in the torso and you will die. If you don't want cops to have the ability to respond with deadly force, you don't want cops at all.

DavidDecember 16, 2008 6:02 PM

Many of the officers likely have trained on the M4 while on military active duty or in the reserves. I don't see a problem with training.

AnonymousDecember 16, 2008 6:16 PM

@Hypnagogue

The issue (as I see it) is whether it is more dangerous to bystanders, not to its intended target.

.30-30 would probably be worse. High recoil and deep penetration would make it unsuitable for urban police use. Same with the M1 - I'd bet the Israelis used it for logistical/financial reasons more than anything else.

Semiautomatic AR-15 > select-fire M4 when it comes to making sure you hit what you're aiming at, and nothing else. Lots of training can improve full-auto accuracy, but it will still be less precise under real-world circumstances. Also, most officers aren't gun nuts. They have way more on their plate than just qualifying with firearms. I'm not knocking them, just pointing out that they may not receive as much training as they should in order to carry automatic weapons.

RoxanneDecember 16, 2008 6:47 PM

I've seen Times Square the day after New Years. Who needs terrorists? 1 million random pedestrians do plenty of damage, thanks.

PeterDecember 16, 2008 6:58 PM

A few years ago I saw a New York City police officer who was standing outside Penn Station while holding a machine gun. He was whistling at and making comments about all the pretty women that passed by. Somehow this had more of a psychological impact on me than seeing the similarly equipped National Guardsmen inside.

HypnagogueDecember 16, 2008 7:00 PM

The rules of firearm safety are the same with select-fire rifles as with any other. A 12-gauge cylinder bore shotgun loaded with 00 buck is just as dangerous to "bystanders". You do not pull the trigger when you are not sure of your target and what lies behind it. Period.

I would not ask Jeff Cooper to perform cryptanalysis on Twofish or Skein. It would be totally inappropriate. He knows nothing about cryptography, and it would be foolish for him to think that, somehow, his expert knowledge of firearms safety would make him an expert in any other field.

Trevor CarpenterDecember 16, 2008 7:18 PM

It's about time! We've seen local law enforcement be ill-equipped with firepower since the 1920's against the early Mafiosos. All too often, the cops are shooting back against a criminal illegally using weapons like AK-47's and MP-5's. So, the introduction of a 5.56 weapon, like a M-4, is a good start.

Trevor CarpenterDecember 16, 2008 7:29 PM

Oh, and some of the morons above really need a bit of education. A few of you tried, but they just don't learn.

This seems to have been made worse by the author as well. Continuing to perpetuate the ignorance surrounding "machine guns" and "assault weapons" is just plain stupid. I know he just quoted the original article, but he made no effort to correct the inaccuracies. Not what I expect from a blog that purports to know about "security".

HypnagogueDecember 16, 2008 7:32 PM

"All too often, the cops are shooting back against a criminal illegally using weapons like AK-47's and MP-5's."

Cite? A-Team and Miami Vice don't count. Once again, a movie-plot threat. Criminal use of automatic weapons is approximately zero, and has been so since the 1930's.

AndrewDecember 16, 2008 7:36 PM

Three days (24 hours) is not nearly enough rifle training for active shooter response. It's barely familiarization, in an awkward place between the day (8 hours) needed for safety and disarm (i.e. downed ESU officer) and the five days (40 hours) needed for basic competency.

For all the hype and noise, this is what we're talking about: arming police with rifles. In large parts of the United States, rifle-armed police are sufficiently commonplace as to be unremarkable. Just because you don't see the long guns doesn't mean that they don't have them.

Whether or not these are selective-fire or fully automatic M-4s is a cogent question. Consensus seems to be that these are select-fire (i.e. 3 round burst mode).

It is worth noting that firearms identifications in the news media are more often wrong than not.

What would make a lot more sense is to make every officer do a one-day safety familiarization and fire a few rounds; encourage officers to volunteer for the three day course; then set up likely candidates from the three day course for an added five day course, plus monthly competency shoots, and give these qualified (non-ESU) officers key/code access to the various arms lockers.

This way, everyone gets the safety lecture, some do familiarization, and those with an aptitude get rifle trained long before becoming eligible for ESU.

Typical ESU ("SWAT") hostage-barricade emergencies and active shooter response are totally different tactical problems, by the way. The latter demands immediate and effective responses from the much-maligned "beat cops."

For a peace officer perspective, see here:

http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?...

HypnagogueDecember 16, 2008 8:24 PM

Are you serious? Those last two were with normal buy'em-at-walmart semi-autos. I stand by my statement, and you've provided the supporting evidence.

The PragmatistDecember 16, 2008 8:26 PM

A couple of points to clear up some of the misconceptions here

1) An M4 is NOT a machine gun. It is a rife more accurately an assault rifle. It fires a 5.56 caliber bullet. It can be mounted on a bipod but not a tripod like a machine gun.

2) M4 are not fully automatic they have semi-automatic, and 3 round burst modes

3) Police officers are already armed with M4 or M16 already. Since the North Hollywood shoot out among other this is necessary to defeat body armor. This a simple point to make. Body armor stops smaller caliber handgun and slower shotgun bullets eg 9mm, .45, .357. This is due to the muzzle velocity. Rifle calibers have a much higher velocity and can penetrate most body armor. Case in point is the north hollywood shoot out where the criminals where able to standoff police due to their body armor and the police being armed with 9mm handguns and shotguns.

4) I am a bit disappointed Bruce. The issue is this. Are the risks of a criminal or terrorist creating an incident with body armor high enough to justify arming officers to respond to that threat? Its as simple as that. Other points that dont help answer that one question are pointless.


markymarkDecember 16, 2008 8:29 PM

Cops with automatic weapons are not a bad thing, and if they need them, well hey, it isn't their fault.

I have to wonder why training didn't last year in order to be ready for this NYE ?

Fred PDecember 16, 2008 8:55 PM

I'm surprised that the NYC police weren't already trained in this; while the specifics of the gun vary, the small township I grew up in had 1917 Mk1's for each police officer, with ammo and training.

AnonymousDecember 16, 2008 9:03 PM

"The area will be on high alert, but has been so for every year since the millennium."

Which explains the need for "higher" "highest" and "highester" levels of alert.

Chris FinchDecember 17, 2008 12:06 AM

Using the phrase "machine gun" stokes fear itself, especially when the Colt M4 is actually an "assault rifle".

mozDecember 17, 2008 12:57 AM

@Trevor Carpenter

The reason that we've "seen local law enforcement be ill-equipped with firepower since the 1920" is really simple. The kind of people who plan to take on the Police have a two stage plan. 1) check what the police have. 2) get something bigger. In the case where the police have assault rifles, the criminals will have RPGs and heavy machine guns. This is an escalation which can only reasonably be won by having a military force (such as the US national guard) as the final backup. It's also the reason why the second amendment can only be really enforced when everybody has the right to carry a nuclear weapon.

Joerg M.December 17, 2008 1:07 AM

I don´t think, that i like the thought of police offices shooting around with assault rifles at a crowded place. Those ammunition was designed to kill distant people on a battlefield. And there will be a vast political outcry after their usage about the collateral damage.

Of course there have weapons with armour-penetrating capabilties at the law enforcement, but those should be in the hands of special units training the whole day to reduce the collateral damages.

And one other problem: Do we really want to have an arms race at between the law enforcement and the standard criminals. When police officers use armor-penetrating rounds, the criminals will just use more effective armor leading to the problem. And nobody would like a .50 shootout at Times Square.

BTW: Of course there is a difference between an assault rifle and a machine gun ... but i don´t think there is difference at the receiving side of the weapon , the MG3 shoots at 1,150 (which is bipod mounted), the M4 up to 950 rounds per minute. The M4 is a battlefield weapon ... illsuited for a crowded place.

some bystanderDecember 17, 2008 1:09 AM

@Maildeaddrop: I see your backwards magazine of a street cop and raise you backwards aimpoint with a guy guarding the NYSE (ie, he hasn't looked even once through his sights, and would not see the aiming reticle if there was a need)

http://www.saysuncle.com/images/nycpd.jpg

Btw, doesn't saying "since the millennium" mean pretty much the same as "since the thousand years"... thats a long time to stay on alert :)

neillDecember 17, 2008 2:39 AM

hopefully someone will realize that in crowded places the "quality" of the shot is more important than the "quantity" ( and not killing innocent bystanders in a hail of bullets )

Tom WelshDecember 17, 2008 6:05 AM

"The NYPD wants all 1,000 Police Academy recruits trained to use M4 automatic machine guns".

Yet another good reason to avoid New York.

"There is no intelligence Times Square will be a target on New Year's Eve".

Yet another good reason to avoid Times Square. There never is intelligence when a real attack takes place.

RoyDecember 17, 2008 6:22 AM

One of the fundamentals of firearms training is that you never point a gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.

One of the fundamentals of police training in the US is that when you have your gun in hand you have it ready to shoot and you point it at everybody you look at, and you look at everybody who isn't a cop.

Naturally, there will be accidental discharges, just as there are now. Official recognition of the event as accidental would destroy the officer's career, so they have to cover it up, making it look like it was intentional and justified.

SushiFuguDecember 17, 2008 7:41 AM

@ Andrew
"Three days (24 hours) is not nearly enough rifle training for active shooter response. It's barely familiarization, in an awkward place between the day (8 hours) needed for safety and disarm (i.e. downed ESU officer) and the five days (40 hours) needed for basic competency."

A few years back I was out in a park training with one of my martial arts instructors and a couple of other people. A county sheriff stops by and asks a couple of questions and determines we aren't a massive threat to the public so my instructor asked if he wanted to stay around or possibly come to another class because we working on hanbo techniques which could possibly apply to his baton training. The sheriff responds that he is a baton instructor.
My instructor probes into what it took to be certified as an instructor. It turns out you take the 8 hour baton class once and you are certified to use it. You take the same 8 hour class a second time and you are now considered an instructor. After hearing that I realized how poorly trained a lot of the people we are depending on to protect us really are.

CassandraDecember 17, 2008 7:44 AM

@markymark

"Cops with automatic weapons are not a bad thing"

There's a large number of people in the UK who would disagree with that statement. The average UK policeman does not carry a firearm.

This is not the place to rehash gun control and similar arguments, but please be aware there is more than one opinion in the matter.

If the police can do a good enough job without routinely being armed, isn't that a good thing?

Cassie.

M4December 17, 2008 8:38 AM

The Israeli army uses a similar type of military assault rifle, but with the fire select setting on semi-automatic. So semi-auto should be good enough for police.

I don't think full auto ARs are a good idea for police because there are usually many innocent civilians. And one can easily fire repeat shots very quickly, so semi-auto or bursts of 2 or 3 shots, would be best.

kaDecember 17, 2008 8:49 AM

"Using the phrase "machine gun" stokes fear itself, especially when the Colt M4 is actually an "assault rifle"."

Actually, an M4 is only an "assault rifle" when it is in yours or my hands. In the hands of the police it is a "patrol rifle."

http://www.patrolrifle.com/

derfDecember 17, 2008 10:00 AM

Let's go movie plot.

We've got a sleeper terrorist cell with no known terrorism background. They join the NYPD, get issued the M4, and each stands in the crowd on New Years Eve with a few extra clips just waiting for their big moment. National Guard on the scene will be helpless because while they also have machine guns, they are usually not issued bullets in civilian situations.

The ball starts dropping and instead of a happy new year at midnight, we get the Times Square Massacre of 2008-2009.

bobDecember 17, 2008 10:09 AM

A rifle is a far more accurate firearm than a handgun. Given: that an honest cop is going to shoot at someone in my vicinity then I would rather for him to have a semi-auto rifle to shoot than a handgun. In a stressful situation, his arc of potential discharge with a handgun could easily be 45 degrees in a cone around straight ahead level, whereas with a rifle, even a small one like an M-4, its probably more like an arc of 10 degrees.

Look at the video of the Chevie Kehoe shootout with the Ohio State Patrol in '97. He and the cop both emptied their handguns (~15 rds each) at each other from no more than 10 yards apart and neither one hit the other.

@Cassandra: This article is about NYC. The US & UK have dissimilar cultures, particularly on this issue, so what (may) work over there is irrelevant to here. For example, in the UK you are considered a criminal when you successfully defend yourself from an attack by an armed intruder in your own home. In the US you would be considered at hero, or at least justified and not in violation of law (except in crime ridden cities like NY, Chicago, LA where you are prohibited from possessing a gun unless you are a criminal. I am making no claim [here] as to which is cause and which is effect). In the UK if you flee from police in a motor vehicle to the degree that you wind up on a "wildest chases" video you will probably lose your license for 6 months. In the US you will lose your license, your car will be seized, you will probably be beaten and get 2-5 years in jail.

M4 reloadedDecember 17, 2008 10:19 AM

From: http://www.nrahq.org/law/training/...

Patrol Rifle Instructor

This school centers on the patrol rifle for officers using iron sights or optics (which must be removed for zeroing exercises). The classroom portion informs students how to teach basic fundamentals of rifle marksmanship and handling, how to zero iron-sighted rifles, and discusses zeroing policy and liability concerns. Range work quickly moves from basic marksmanship to tactical movement, use of cover, various firing positions, pivots and turns, use of the safety circle concept, reloading under stress, firing on the move, multiple threats, decision-making, and reduced light threat identification and firing. Students design a tactical course of fire and are responsible for developing a lesson plan and running fellow students through their course at the end of the week.

BadtuxDecember 17, 2008 10:57 AM

Cops manage to hit what they're shooting at less than 25% of the time to begin with. Steel jacketed .223 rounds simply go through most targets and wound, rather than killing, and ricochet rather than splattering on the pavement like a big soft-nosed bullet. Add the two together in an urban environment, look at the numbers NYC is talking about, and ponder what NYC wants with a full combat brigade of folks with automatic weapons. (Albeit the M4 only fires three-shot bursts rather than being a fully automatic "machine gun").

Personally, in an urban environment I'd prefer a tactical shotgun loaded with buckshot for most encounters. That puts 9 rounds downrange with each pull of the trigger, far more firepower than the M4 can put on target. And because the rounds are soft round lead pellets, they don't overpenetrate and cause dead civilians in the tenement behind the perp. Other than snipers, no cop in an urban environment needs a rifle, automatic or not. It simply isn't the right tool for the job. But tactical shotguns aren't "cool" like hauling around a military weapon looking like some third world goon. Sigh.

In other words, the M4's here are penis substitutes rather than the best weapons for the job. They're being bought because they make the NYPD "look" vicious, rather than because they add any real capability. They're security theatre, except they're security theatre that actually makes us *less* secure, because they displace weapons that are more effective in an urban environment -- ye good olde tactical pump-action shotgun. Snipers need rifles, of course. But for most cops, they're not the right tool for the job. There's a *reason* why GI's in Vietnam often (illegally) used sawed-off shotguns while clearing tunnels... for those kinds of closed-in environments, that was simply the best tool for the job.

Very Bad IdeaDecember 17, 2008 11:39 AM

I am a recreational pistol shooter and not a particularly good one at that. That said, I *am* a better pistol shot than all but 3 of the police officers I have competed against over the last 25 or so years.

Let me be clear - MOST COPS ARE LOUSY SHOTS.

Does anyone remember Amadou Diallo?

Arming the "elite" NYPD gang task force police officers who shot their pistols at a man in a doorway (range of 7 yards) and only hit him 19 of 42 times with selective fire rifles is foolish in the extreme. Arming the "run of the mill" cop on the beat is this fashion should constitute criminal indifference.

Give the cop a baton and make him deputize the guns from passers-by; at least they will be able to hit what thay shoot at...

Pat CahalanDecember 17, 2008 11:44 AM

@ Badtux

> But tactical shotguns aren't "cool" like hauling around a
> military weapon looking like some third world goon.

I dunno about that one. Shotguns scare the piss out of me way more than assault rifles. :)

mcbDecember 17, 2008 12:25 PM

Is it just me or has Bruce been a little jumpy responding to lurid headlines lately? First it was “Killer Robots!” Now it’s “Police With Rifles!” Maybe our man needs to secure a steady source of soothing stories about cephalopods?

As for issuing M4 carbines to the police it's a good idea for a variety of reasons. People who look askance at patrol carbines think nothing of the coppers running to the scene of a fight with a 12 gauge combat shotgun or a 15 shot pistol. What the average person doesn't know is that shotguns have tremendous recoil, poor accuracy, insufficient penetration on body armor and a tendency toward overpenetration (shooting completely through persons and structures behind them). While no one enjoys shooting a 12 gauge combat shotgun (they’ve been known to dislocate shoulders and cause brain concussions), training issues are amplified when used by persons of light build or slight stature. It's just plain hard to train enough with a shotgun to get good enough to account for every projectile.

For a time there was interest in carbines that fired the same pistol cartridge as the officers’ sidearms. Pistol cartridge carbines are easy to train with and use, but only specialized pistol ammunition will penetrate soft body armor and that ammunition will routinely overpenetrate on persons and structures.

Actually the biggest problem with pistol cartridges relates to their use in pistols. Pistols are hard to use well under stress. Self-loading pistols with large magazines have a variety of training and tactical advantages, but a significant fraction of pistol bullets stop in things other than their intended target.

Enter the 223 caliber patrol carbine, most frequently encountered as the CAR15/M4, a shorter, lighter, more adaptable version of the AR15/M16 rifle. It is easy to train with and use effectively, regardless the size or recoil tolerance of the operator. The 223 cartridge will penetrate soft body armor (as was demonstrated when LAPD SWAT ended the infamous Hollywood shootout). The 223 cartridge is more effective than pistol bullets making bad guys lie down and leave you alone. A carbine is much easier to hit bad guys with than a pistol, even up close. Ironically the 223 cartridge doesn't overpenetrate on persons or structures as much as shotgun projectiles or even pistol bullets. Many cops are reservists who have acquired plenty of real world experience with the system while on deployment in the "GWOT". Most police administrators agree that the patrol carbine need only be a semiautomatic (one shot per trigger pull) instead of automatic ("machinegun"), but that is easily dealt with at the time of procurement.

So, the advantages include… Easier to train with than shotguns or pistols. Safer to use than shotguns or pistols. Easier to get hits with at all ranges compared to pistols. More effective at neutralizing the target than pistol bullets. Effective against soft body armor, unlike shotguns or pistols. Less overpenetration on persons and structures than shotguns or pistols. It need not be an automatic.

One could make a case that those citizens frightened by cops carrying guns should be asking why an officer is trusted with a shotgun or pistol instead of being given a rifle.

Mark RDecember 17, 2008 12:27 PM

If you've seen Times Square on New Year's Eve, you know that the greatest danger to any member of that crowd is the crowd itself. If anything at all happens, malicious or otherwise, my bet is that more people will die from trampling or being crushed against solid objects than any weapons.

What to do about that threat, I have no idea. Maybe the police ought to be able to take control of all the video displays on the square to be able to give clear instructions to the crowd. And hope some of them listen.

Very Bad IdeaDecember 17, 2008 1:19 PM

OK; I am also a recreational rifle shooter (1903A3) and a recreational trap shooter (K-32 & 870 Rem); not particularly good at either of those, either, but I have fun...

@mcb - Are you serious??? "... shotguns have tremendous recoil, poor accuracy..."
Recoil of a 12-gauge shotgun is significant - yes - but definitely not "tremendous." As to the accuracy, my deer-hunter friends report being able to fire 100 yard rested groups of 3 deer slugs that all touch. I personally know people that have repeatedly hit 100 or more clay pigeons straight at trap shooting. Accuracy at trapshooting ranges should be at least as troublesome as it would be in clearing a room or getting the attention of a rioting mob. It does not seem to a problem, though; pure FUD...

As for shotguns being "known to dislocate shoulders and cause brain concussions", I can only say that if the gun is properly mounted to the shoulder and the cheek correctly placed on the comb of the stock, these things *cannot* happen in normal use. This is FUD.

What about crooks using body armor? I would guess that the average cop is as likely to encounter body armor on a perp as I am to be held hostage by a bonafide terrorist. Several states have made civilian possession of body armor a felony(!) and most of the ads I have seen for body armor require the order to be placed on police department letterhead or though the PD purchasing department. They don't want to sell to me, and I'm not even a crook. Penetrating body armor should not be a "normal" problem but no, your 9mm will not penetrate it. However, your 12-gauge 870 will definitely knock him on his a** long enough for you or your partner to put that 9mm against his soft, unarmored head... I'm calling this one FUD, too.

My problem with the pistol caliber carbines issued to police where I live is that they are generally full-auto. All that does is let the cop that cannot hit his target with his pistol waste all his ammunition more efficiently.

That .223 you want to let cops use needs to be evaluated against the statistics the FBI gathered when they chose the .40 S&W many years ago. They found that something like 80% of (pistol, yes, so this is arguably an "apples to oranges" comparison) bullets fired by police officers miss and continue down range into somebody's neighborhood. A .223 is many times more likely to penetrate vehicles or structures than a pistol round and will carry many times farther, as well, for those happen to be outdoors at the time.

For Pete's sake, we're debating armament for *police* not *military* use. The two are different.


SpecialtyDecember 17, 2008 1:23 PM

Ummm, some bystander, the "since the millennium" would be like saying "since 2000." A new millennium occurs every 1,000 years, right? So, in 1000, 2000, 3000, and so on. They have been on high alert for about eight years now, if not longer.

PackagedBlueDecember 17, 2008 1:50 PM

How can Mayor Bloomberg let this happen? He sure is not a gun fan.

This just seems to be a get federal funding for guns for 'National Security' reasons, and when 00/2009 happens, the guns are NOT loaded, but just there for appearances sake.

A normal cop with a select fire rifle around crowd control? Cop will have gun taken, and then a disaster. Best just to give the cops an auto squirt guns filled with pepper spray, more effective and safer for crowd control.

MateFrioDecember 17, 2008 1:51 PM

...Dr. Werner Weissenhofer reports from Vienna. It seems that a felon armed with a 357 revolver robbed a bank. As he left the bank, he was accosted by a policeman whom he murdered with one shot. Great excitement ensued, with the felon taking hostages and racing madly around from one store to another. When the forces of law and order had been mobilized and surrounded the goblin, a policeman volunteered to trade himself to the goblin for two hostages. This offer was accepted, at which time the felon fired at the policeman and seriously wounded him. The forces of law and order opened up with everything they had, which was mostly AUG and Glock fire. Shortly, the goblin killed himself with one round. He had fired three times and achieved three hits. The police, according to their official report, fired 1,261 rounds without drawing blood.

As I have often stated, if someone wants to shoot at me, I sure hope he does it on full-auto. -Jeff Cooper

Gert van den BergDecember 17, 2008 1:58 PM

In South Africa the police / security for cash transportation companies almost all seem to be issued with R5 (or similar) assault rifles. (They do not always have the weapons on them though)

The situation is quite a bit different from the US though and criminals often have AK-47 rifles. (Which is probably also the reason that the police typically use ceramic armour, rather than the more comfortable kevlar-type)

BuckarooDecember 17, 2008 2:36 PM

@"One could make a case that those citizens frightened by cops carrying guns should be asking why an officer is trusted with a shotgun or pistol instead of being given a rifle."

I'm more worried about where the training is coming from than the specific weapon being phased in. Ever since the first SWAT teams, our police forces have been getting more and more militarized. I have nothing against the military per-se, and they certainly do know their weaponry, but... they aren't police.
If this change moves the NYC police further in the para-military direction (and certainly the quotes from their leadership make me think this is a major unstated motivation), then it's a bad thing.

Which is why I have to also disagree with Bruce. Training can certainly be a bad thing, if it's training someone to do something they shouldn't be. We do NOT want the police to react to situations the same way the military does...

VoxDecember 17, 2008 3:35 PM

@Very Bad Idea

I shoot as well, including 5.56mm and 7.62mm rifles and a 12ga 870P on a regular basis...

Even with a good buttpad, 12ga recoil is significantly greatly than 5.56, which affects controllability and multiple round accuracy.

You are comparing non-analogous skill sets. Rested fire and trap shooting is different from shooting on the move during force-on-force. As others have noted, in real shootouts, accuracy goes to heck. Furthermore, 12ga buckshot spreads (as you most likely know) and is far less mechanically accurate than a 5.56 platform. At 25m, spread is definitely a collateral damage concern, particularly with non center-of-mass shots. Slugs recoil even more than buckshot, are most accurate with rifled barrels, and penetrate far more than 5.56. Highly unsuitable for police use in a crowded environment.

Body armor is more available than you make it out to be. Surplus body armor is readily available on the internet (check eBay...). I agree that it is a highly improbable scenario in general, but not unheard of by any means...I found at least 2 incidents of alleged criminals in possession of body armor on the first 2 pages of Google News.

Ballistic testing, both formal and informal, has found that .40SW and 5.56 have more similar penetration characteristics at short-range than your post would lead people to believe (both in drywall, car doors, and calibrated ballistic gelatin). It is by no means a given that 5.56 will over-penetrate more than pistol rounds.

mcbDecember 17, 2008 3:37 PM

“OK; I am also a recreational rifle shooter (1903A3) and a recreational trap shooter (K-32 & 870 Rem); not particularly good at either of those, either, but I have fun...”

I’m a firearms enthusiast as well, having been a shooter and hunter for a little over four decades. We even share an appreciation for the Springfield 1903, my first centerfire rifle. I’ve also carried on the job from time to time over the last 30 years. I’ve attended a variety of professional shooting schools and count among my friends, mentors, and associates professional firearms instructors. But the main difference between you and me is that I’ve done the research needed to dispel the same incorrect truisms under which you still labor.

“Are you serious??? ‘... shotguns have tremendous recoil, poor accuracy...’ Recoil of a 12-gauge shotgun is significant - yes - but definitely not "tremendous." As to the accuracy, my deer-hunter friends report being able to fire 100 yard rested groups of 3 deer slugs that all touch. I personally know people that have repeatedly hit 100 or more clay pigeons straight at trap shooting. Accuracy at trapshooting ranges should be at least as troublesome as it would be in clearing a room or getting the attention of a rioting mob. It does not seem to a problem, though; pure FUD...”

The trap gun or the rifled hunting shotgun fitted with a scope and using $3 a shot hunting ammo is a far cry from the average six pound police shotgun with its hard butt plate, poor sight (or lack of sights altogether), and a smooth bore. As for dusting clays you of course recognize that most of the cloud of shot launched from a trap gun does not strike the target. Gratefully, the days discharging shotguns into rioting mobs (hence the nickname “riot gun”) has long since passed, so the ability to still meet that performance standard may be disregarded.

“As for shotguns being "known to dislocate shoulders and cause brain concussions", I can only say that if the gun is properly mounted to the shoulder and the cheek correctly placed on the comb of the stock, these things *cannot* happen in normal use. This is FUD.”

Not only can they happen, they do. What’s more, the police shotgun is used in emergencies under stress, not normal use. More to the point, some cops simply cannot shoot the shotgun well enough to qualify with it, even when used with reduced power ammo, enhanced sights, and recoil pads, which means they cannot carry it in the squad.

“What about crooks using body armor? I would guess that the average cop is as likely to encounter body armor on a perp as I am to be held hostage by a bonafide terrorist. Several states have made civilian possession of body armor a felony(!) and most of the ads I have seen for body armor require the order to be placed on police department letterhead or though the PD purchasing department. They don't want to sell to me, and I'm not even a crook. Penetrating body armor should not be a "normal" problem but no, your 9mm will not penetrate it. However, your 12-gauge 870 will definitely knock him on his a** long enough for you or your partner to put that 9mm against his soft, unarmored head... I'm calling this one FUD, too.”

The police do encounter body armor on the street. Pistols and shotguns do not penetrate it. Rifles do. The 223 penetrates it without excess penetration in other circumstances.

“My problem with the pistol caliber carbines issued to police where I live is that they are generally full-auto. All that does is let the cop that cannot hit his target with his pistol waste all his ammunition more efficiently.”

A pistol cartridge shoulder arm that is capable of automatic fire is a submachinegun and I have not recommended that SMGs be deployed. All the benefits of the police carbine accrue to the self-loading version of the M4; the rare situation where automatic fire is required (even I’m not sure when that would be) is better handled by a rigorously trained and supervised SWAT team.

“That .223 you want to let cops use needs to be evaluated against the statistics the FBI gathered when they chose the .40 S&W many years ago. They found that something like 80% of (pistol, yes, so this is arguably an "apples to oranges" comparison) bullets fired by police officers miss and continue down range into somebody's neighborhood.”

Police armed with patrol rifles fire fewer shots with fewer misses to much greater effect than does the average officer discharging his or her pistol.

“A .223 is many times more likely to penetrate vehicles or structures than a pistol round and will carry many times farther, as well, for those happen to be outdoors at the time.”

The research – using the now standard FBI ammunition testing protocol – proves this truism fallacious. Pistol bullets and shotgun slugs penetrate farther than 223 bullets. It IS counterintuitive, and it IS true. But please don’t take my word for it; do your own research. There are many sources but you can start here:

Campbell, R. (1998) Putting a long gun into action. Law & Order. 46, 10, pg 103.
Kelly, S. (2003) 223 ammo for law enforcement operations. Law & Order. 51, 12, pg 22.
Lesce, T. (2001) The police carbine. Law & Order. 49, 4, pg 27.
Sparks, D. (2002) Ballistic testing justifies .223 caliber carbine. Law & Order. 50, 6, pg 101.

Be well.

HJohnDecember 17, 2008 4:00 PM

@Mark R: "If you've seen Times Square on New Year's Eve, you know that the greatest danger to any member of that crowd is the crowd itself. If anything at all happens, malicious or otherwise, my bet is that more people will die from trampling or being crushed against solid objects than any weapons."

Which is probably why they are on high alert even if there is no intelligence. It wouldn't take much to create chaos. If some scumbag like the perpetrator of the virginia tech massacre wanted to kill himself and take others with him, it would be a great place to find sitting ducks to pick off, perhaps followed by a stampede.

Likely? No. But given the number of people, the drinking involved, etc., I wouldn't expect the NYPD to not be on a higher alert than most days, terrorist threat or not. We'd probably scold them after the fact if they weren't.

Very Bad IdeaDecember 17, 2008 5:01 PM

@Vox "Even with a good buttpad, 12ga recoil is significantly greatly than 5.56, which affects controllability and multiple round accuracy."
Yup; no argument.
What I said was that 12ga recoil, though "significant" is not "tremendous."

"...comparing non-analogous skill sets..." Yes, rested fire and offhand shooting, particularly when under any sort of stress, are definitely different. Yes, shot does spread as it files, hence the nickname "scatter-gun." I specifically mentioned deer slugs, not buckshot. Yes, they are best from rifled barrels, but are far more accurate from smooth bores than most people expect. The rested groups were fired during sight-in and I'm not in the field with them during hunts, so I don't know what the field accuracy is.

I submit that *no* firearm is indicated for police use in a crowded environment.

"Body armor is more available..." OK; I must admit that I didn't check eBay and that your Google search indicates the likelihood of Officer A encountering a perp in it is significantly higher than my being taken hostage by a real terrorist.

But it is still way over-hyped. Sorry; not buying the "necessity" for M4 issuance based on pistol rated body armor being available.

"Ballistic testing..." OK;I haven't time to do the research and I'll accept yours.

I continue to think issuing these weapons to police officers is a very bad idea. Where I live, local police have demonstrated *very* poor skill with relatively low power pistols - the old .38 Special and now 9x19. When they get into gun fights, not exactly common but not exactly rare, either, they wing a *lot* of rounds into neighborhoods of "stick built" homes. I don't particularly fancy seeing them issued higher powered carbines with larger magazines. There are those I would unquestioningly trust with such weapons locally, but **very** few. And - I don't get to pick who gets them, so I prefer to see those weapons *not* issued to the local police at all.

The items that make the national news typically come from larger cities with supposedly "elite" units within the police force, such as New York City.

Nationally, NYPD seems to be viewed as highly competent by other police departments. Yet it is NYPD special units - internally recruited as a band of officers picked from among the larger band of those picked to be police officers - that frequently figure in the national news as with Amadou Diallo.

There have been other incidents in the time since then but in that one members of the "elite" gang task force shot and killed a man in a doorway - for what appears to be mistaken reasons. And they missed more than half the time at about 7 yards. Not exactly confidence inspiring performance from an elite unit; what sort of performance can we expect from the officers refused admission to this elite unit?

Can we really be seriously discussing the advisability of issuing police officers that are *less* competent than the Diallo shooters high-power rifles to use "in a crowded environment?"

It terrifies me that my small city may eventually import these tactical ideas and practices from the big cities.

I really would prefer to see the police armed with batons and the population armed with pistols.

Before you ask, YES, I am serious...

Nicholas NDecember 17, 2008 5:26 PM

This is the same NYPD that has a field accuracy rate with semiautomatic handguns at point blank range of ~10%? Yeah, I totally feel safe in NYC with them kicking it to fully automatic.

The training mentioned is not remotely sufficient to impart serious comprehension or skill with the use of an automatic rifle in an urban environment. This is nothing but a way to blow the remainder of an evaporating annual budget.

Arguments for and against the efficacy of an automatic rifle in any given police engagement are ignoring that most officers never fire their weapons off the range in a given year and are already woefully undertrained; This isn't about guns so much as some stupid "use it or lose it" budget policy.

MatthewDecember 17, 2008 6:48 PM

Erm, sure - training is never a bad thing, but it might be a waste of money if never used. The question that comes to my mind is "hang on - do automatic weapons have any useful place in normal police tactics?" If this was part of the adoption of a new set of procedures and trained scenarios, along with a new set of tactics suitable for dealing with a mumbai-like scenario, then it's probably a good idea (if questionably useful). Just chucking automatic weapons at cops to use in a crowded city is otherwise a recipe for lots of injured people.

dogDecember 18, 2008 10:16 AM

"On the one hand, deploying these weapons seems like a bad idea."

IMHO a full-auto weapon in a crowded place is always a bad idea (even if as others said, in some countries it is quite common encounter officiers with autos).

But, the problem is that gangs have them, and that fact cannot be ignored when chosing equipment, training and engagement rules for police corps.

Enhancing the firepower of officiers can be one step in the right direction to counter that fact (certainly not the only, probably not the most effective step), otherwise pretending police engage too unfair gunfights would be a cure worse than the disease.

dogDecember 18, 2008 10:30 AM

@moz
That's faluty logic: heavier weapons costs, are difficult to find and are more prone to get noticed as they enter the black market.

Here in Italy organized crime uses auto rifles and high explosives (it is not a "movie plot", see Falcone and Borsellino and many more cases), but during "Vespri Siciliani" facing the Italian army Mafia didn't switched to use F-16 or ballistic missiles!

The real goal would be wiping out any kind of weapon from black market, where anyone no matter how crazy or dishonest can buy, not from police offciers or honest citizens.

bro_manDecember 19, 2008 9:30 AM

Two issues:

1) Technology (e.g., computers, internet, encryption) is used by the vast majority as a tool for lawful purposes (work, personal, entertainment, etc), but it can also be mis-used by criminals (phishers, hackers, viruses, et al) to commit crimes. Should we ban or restrict computers to "get them off the streets"? Of course not! Just prosecute those who break the law (e.g., murder, robbery) and allow everyone else the freedom to use the best tool for their lawful purpose.

Likewise, an M4 is simply a tool which can be used to defend and save lives whether in the hands of the government or ordinary people. The NYPD should be able to go after proper training and good, effective equipment/tools to defend and save lives. But why is that same right to pursue life-saving training/tools being withheld from normal, everyday citizens of NYC/NY???

2) "Times square high alert" = bullshit CYA hype to justify funding and keep the populace scared.

PackagedBlueDecember 19, 2008 8:35 PM

High alert, well that is always smart in a post 9/11 world, especially because THINGS are really heating up.

John WatersDecember 22, 2008 2:41 AM

I don't have too many reservations about NYPD officers being trained to deploy with long arms. I do have reservations about them walking around with them while patrolling on foot. These arms should be treated like shotguns, they should be mounted in patrol vehicles or kept in lockers at stations and only brought out for practice, maintenance, or (God forbid) use.

My only reservation is the decision to go with the M4 itself. I am not sure if a direct impingement driven 5.56x45mm carbine with a 14.5" barrel is really the right long arm for the NYPD. I think that something like a 10.5" LWRC M6A2 in 6.8SPC or even a proper submachine gun or PDW (HK UMP, FN P90, Knight's PDW) might work a lot better in the densely populated tourist traps of NYC where overpenetration is most certainly not a good thing. Overpenetration is a definite worry with the 5.56 and this is exacerbated by the recent trend of using heavy match-grade ammunition with tighter barrel twist rates, especially on shorter barreled rifles like the M4.


John WatersDecember 22, 2008 2:45 AM

MCB: Did those penetration studies cover the ever-more-popular mk262 (and civilian 77gr @ 2800fps loads) that are being bought up by LEO, mil, and civilians alike?

I have a hard time accepting that a 40 S&W gold dot penetrates anything better than a 77gr Black Hills 5.56x45.

John WatersDecember 22, 2008 4:19 AM

Also, folks interested in learning more about how bullets behave downrange should check out "The Box 'O Truth" at www.theboxotruth.com .

mcbDecember 28, 2008 11:04 PM

@ John Waters

Don't know how the mk262 77 gr bullet works in FBI standard tests when started from the 1:7 twist of the 14.5 inch barrel of the military M4, but I've read that our special operators in Afghanistan were looking for a bullet that yaws more on impact for more effective wounding, so that gives us some clue. As with making certain the patrol rifles function as semiautomatics only it might be a good thing to return to the original 1:14 twist and the 55 gr FMJBT with the deep cannalure for urban use.

Dan Houser, CISSP CISM etc.January 2, 2009 11:26 AM

The article is totally alarmist... not only does it classify an assault rifle as a machine gun, then it re-classifies the M4 as heavy artillery, as though a 5.56mm bullet is suddenly a 155mm Howitzer.

Many squad cars in cities around the country are being converted to carry M1/M14s carbines or M4s instead of the classic combat pump shotgun, as they've arguably proven to be more useful to LE than shotguns overall (though still being debated). Training the cadets on the use of an M4 isn't by any means irresponsible, but seems rather to be a change in training to keep up with the times.

RogerJanuary 4, 2009 5:42 AM

There are 3 distinct issues here, which I would like to address in order of increasing importance.

The first issue is, as several respondents have pointed out, the term "machine-gun" is completely incorrect here, and obviously scare-mongering.

The second issue is use of a rifle as the backup long arm. Most US police officers patrol in cars have a backup long arm stored in the car, for occasions when the pistol is inadequate. Traditionally, this has been a shotgun; one of the most popular models is a 12 gauge smooth bore, pump action shotgun usually with a 6+1 or 7+1 round magazine. Many ammunition types are available but the most common service issue nature is 00 buck, which (for a 12 ga non-magnum cartridge) is 9 balls each roughly the same size, mass and muzzle velocity as a 9 mm pistol bullet. A common choking is "improved cylinder" because it gives tighter shot control than true cylinder, but still allows most types of slugs to be used. With improved cylinder, the shot spread at the nominal effective range of 100 yards is about 130 inches (3.3 m.)

Largely as a result of a shootout involving the FBI in Miami in 1986, there have been years of investigation and study as to whether this was most appropriate backup long weapon, and the jury has pretty well decided that in most cases a carbine [1] or centre-fire small bore (medium power) rifle is the best choice, both in terms of police effectiveness, and in terms of public safety. We can debate the issue here but it has already been covered endlessly in better informed fora, and the decision has been made (years ago.) Consequently, many if not most US police forces have already changed over to a carbine (usually 9 mm) or a rifle (usually 5.56 mm) and it is really surprising that NYPD are dragging the chain -- perhaps the sheer size of that police force (larger than the national defence force of many first world nations!) makes such a logistics problem very complex.

The third and biggest issue is, having decided to replace a 12 ga shotgun with a 5.56 mm rifle, whether the M4 is a good choice for that rifle. To that I have to say emphatically "NO". In every criterion which made rifles seem a better choice than shotguns, the M4 is inferior to the other commonly available choices. It is less powerful, less accurate, for a given level of servicing it is less reliable, and it takes far more training to master its many complex features. This is not at all surprising when one considers that the initial orders were for supply to Special Forces for special applications; and it is equally unsurprising that when it has increasingly been issued to regular units, NCOs have complained about the inferior performance compared to the M16A4.

Finally, as others have commented, full auto capability in a general issue police service rifle really does not seem like a good idea. I don't have a knee jerk reaction to full auto capability; I am a former infantryman (and also a former police dept. contractor, with a number of serving police officers as friends.) But contrary to Hollywood myth, there are only a limited number of scenarios when full auto is actually useful, and none of them commonly occur in police work. If I ask myself, "if I were a patrolman, would I be satisfied with a backup long arm that was semi-auto only?", the answer is yes, no problems. There may be a role in the HRT, SWAT or what have you -- although even then, I wouldn't expect it to be called for very often.

The only reason I can imagine for choosing the M4 over an AR-15, or perhaps even a Mini-14 [2], is some kind of back-room deal making.

____
Footnote:
1. Traditionally and strictly, "carbine" means a shorter-barrelled version of a standard infantry rifle, and so is best used to describe the M4, which is very similar to a short barrelled version of the M16. However in modern civilian usage, in some police contexts, and here, it is used to mean a firearm that fires pistol calibre ammunition but has a shoulder stock and a barrel much longer than a pistol, although possibly not as long as a full rifle. This design is considered logistically useful because the same ammunition can be used in pistol and long arm, with the long arm providing greater power, accuracy and range. In fact, many carbines of this type actually use the same magazine as a "companion" pistol.
2. The Mini-14 is, in fact, already in service with some specialist NYPD units.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 4, 2009 10:17 AM

@ Roger,

With regards to long guns and other stand off weaponry.

I personaly would prefer not to have a general police force armed with M16's etc, the carbines (using pistol ammunition) you mentioned should be more than sufficient for most events a general police force are likley to encounter.

For those very occasional events that require more penetrating fire power then specialist officers who have received considerably more FIBUA training should be used.

The British Army used to use the 7.62 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) and FMJ "boat tailed" round ammunition for it's range, penetration and stopping ability (requirments for field and open ground fighting).

Unfortunatly it was found in NI that a 7.62 FMJ round could easily go throug a person through a house behind them across a road and into another house, occasionaly going right through the second house depending on it's construction etc.

On one occasion a round fired by a kneeling soldier went through a house into another and through a child who was (IIRC) in bed.

This is not the sort of firepower you want on your streets unless you are effectivly fighting a war (and even then preferably not).

It is said that one of the reasons the British army went to the SA80 and it's M16 compatable ammunition was because the lighter round that toppled more easily would have stopping power but not penetration (the UK round is I belive boat tailed whilst the US round is not). That said a story or two from the special forces in the Falklands war suggests that the M16 ammunition lacks stopping power even at close range (which might be a disadvantage in some events).

Personaly I suspect that changes in warfare from field to urban environments and the "spray and pray" shooting (covering fire) required for clearing occupied buildings is the main reason for picking a physicaly lighter ammunition.

The fact that it has less stopping and penetration power is perhaps not a bad thing. Most defense organisations are looking into the use of non-lethal weapons to reduce casualties on both sides (friendly fire accounting for a very high percentage of blue force casualties these days).

RogerJanuary 4, 2009 6:07 PM

@Clive:
> Unfortunatly it was found in NI that a 7.62 FMJ round could easily go throug a person through a house behind them across a road and into another house, occasionaly going right through the second house depending on it's construction etc.

This was specifically one of the reasons for choosing the 5.56 mm. During the years of debate about this issue, a number of tests of over-penetration were conducted. Surprisingly it was found that while 5.56 mm had better penetration through light cover (e.g. car door) than 00 buck or 9 mm, it actually had less penetration through buildings than either! The reason is that common construction techniques create "layered armour", and while the 5.56 projectile easily punches through, say, a layer of clapboard, in the process its trajectory is so badly upset that it hits the next wall side on with its jacket already disintegrating and often fails to penetrate even double plasterboard (sheet rock, to the Americans.) In contrast typical police pistol calibres are much less affected by this phenomenon, and symmetric shotgun pellets not at all, and will make it into the 2nd room and sometimes a third.

Combined with the fact that the rifle misses far fewer shots to begin with, and the conclusion is that a 5.56 mm rifle presents less risk to the public.

Stewart DeanJanuary 16, 2009 8:01 AM

Bruce:
I have mixed feelings about this proposal to train New York City police with machine guns. On the one hand, deploying these weapons seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, training is almost never a bad thing.
Me:
I live 90 miles north of NYC. The local township has a firing range 1/2 mi from my house, just over the line from restricted residential to heavy industrial...and it makes more noise than any industrial plant I've ever been around when in use. Practice for the town cops, I don't mind; I even value it; I understand that practice is essential. Ditto I guess for the county of Ulster and the city of Kingston. But...the Town of Ulster police want this range to be the goto place for LEO practice in the Hudson Valley...wants to have a first class facility, improvement to be paid for by LEO fees. So there is the Natl Guard, the FBI, the State and other municipalities...and the police chief and his lieutenant view this as their pet project which makes a name for themselves in the law enforcement community.
I want a quota, they don't. On practice days, the shooting can go on all day, with practice at, and all kinds of arms including full auto and relatively heavy weapons. I finally got a schedule so I knew whether a weekend was going to be Baghdad on the Hudson or I would have the peace I expect in the country. You can see it in the link below...but they don't always observe it, and they don't have any interest in complaints, much less take action when the schedule is violated. And who do you call to complain to? How do you confront them? You don't win battles of any sort with cops. I want a quota...this a camel with its nose in the tent with more forcing its way in. But I talk restrictions and it's like I'm not there.
http://www.ulsterpolice.com/Range%20Schedule.htm

ArmThePoliceJanuary 17, 2009 9:44 PM

Look for the National Geographic Channel special on the armed robbery in L.A. where the robbers had machine guns and the cops were armed with .9 mm pistols. The robbers also had full body armor and used bullets that went through police body armor and through police cars. It was a disaster. The police couldn't protect themselves, much less the public.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where police need to be armed to keep up with the bad guys, who can get their hands on just about anything. If this means giving police automatic weapons, including machine guns, then we have to do it.

I hope they train them well and only give them to select units of a police force, not all units.

sjsJanuary 19, 2009 9:34 AM

Wow, that's a truly bad idea. More police training is a good thing, and training on good weapons is even better; but automatic weapons is a bad idea. I have an experience that explains why:

I was traveling by air not long after 9/11 with a good friend who is an Army Ranger. This guy has been in some very tough situations, I suppose that goes along with special forces. I hadn't really thought a lot about the National Guard guys standing around with M-16's, but he told me it really made him scared to see those guys in airports!

I thought he was being funny until he explained himself. Automatic weapons are tactically known as 'indiscriminate' weapons. They are used to lay down suppressing fire, to get the bad guys down; either because they hide behind cover or they get shot, it doesn't matter. The weapon accomplishes this purpose by putting a lot of lead into the air in a 'general direction'. It's difficult to aim these things; they just spew bullets, per their design.

The idea of automatic weapons being used in populated areas is a bad one. Much better if they invest in sniper rifles and more precision weapons.

TJMarch 9, 2009 11:51 AM

Regarding -- "I have mixed feelings about this proposal to train New York City police with machine guns. On the one hand, deploying these weapons seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, training is almost never a bad thing.""

I am well versed in the use of firearms and I *do not* think this is a good idea.

The purpose of a machine gun is to lay down suppressive fire. It allows military units to maneuver when in direct contact with the enemy.

We need to stop turning our police departments into military units -- and likewise -- our military into police squads.

SpamiesterMay 26, 2010 8:05 PM

@傅先生
and what interesting spam this is
from word lingo
"The Beijing road passes eight side credential limited company to be engaged in manages card service many years, all understood to national each big school, this company started with 1999      Manages the card on-line, by has 10 several years history to the present to hold the card experience to be rich, why can this company manage the card to support on-line that many year      We tell the facts: This must thank in the general customers and the market the demand, now the social diploma may say is a stepping-stone, hopes me   Brings the help for everybody, therefore the hope person from all walks of life do not want to dislike us to manage the card, serves sincerely for everybody, if the feeling quality does not have the question,   Hoped the general customer side has the relatives and friends who manages the card to have well introduces.This company absolute preferential benefit guarantee quality.National each big school and all may   Handles, has a part of school to be possible to handle the school the first edition diploma, no matter is the official seal, steel seal principal signs, typeface color, lid   The position the first edition graduation card which sends with the school is absolutely entirely alike.In order to guarantee the respect the customer benefit, the Beijing area may delivery pays money -   1. outside areas customers contact with us first--.2 submit materials and picture--After .3 presses the customer request manufacture to complete - on 4 nets to approve qualified draws out money again -   After 5. mail certificates - 6. complete the book to eliminate the customer material! Common credential manufacture time 1 day. The national express 3 days arrival of shipment pays attention {does first   After the card favors pays money does not receive any deposit} therefore we are you most reliable friend (main undertaking) the detailed telebrief! Our company take the good faith service as an idea, persisted manages the card for Beijing to create a good environment, our business scope Haidian manages the card, Chaoyang manages the card, Fengtai manages the card, Shijing Hill manages the card, western city manages the card, east city manages the card, establishes the card, the receipt, the tax receipt greatly, engraves a chapter of Xuanwu Period to manage the card to pass   The state manages the card to engrave a chapter of east city to manage services and so on card."

ModeratorDecember 10, 2012 12:34 PM

Life's too short to cuss out spammers, though it's tempting. (Besides, how do I know it's not a Joe job?)

Tina ChenJune 7, 2013 10:07 PM

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