TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
Obama's new rules for police actually ban just one new piece of equipment — the bayonet
Yesterday, President Obama made headlines announcing new rules to limit the federal government's sale of military equipment to local police departments. As The Week's Peter Weber reported, the ban prohibited the Pentagon selling "tracked armored vehicles, weapons or ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, camouflage uniforms, grenade launchers, or bayonets" to police.
Unfortunately, an investigation by The Washington Examiner found that only one of the items on Obama's ban list (the bayonet) is actually affected by the rule change — the rest were already banned, some for more than two decades.
Meanwhile, Obama's rules do not ban the sale of other military equipment, notably mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles — the armored vehicles that became a defining image of police militarization in Ferguson, Missouri — to local police. And though the Obama Administration says it will consider having police departments return some of the equipment they've already received, it's worth noting that some departments have already tried to do this, only to have their returns refused by the Pentagon.
Finally, it is potentially significant that Obama's prohibition targeted the "sale" of military equipment to local police, but past equipment transfers have typically been loans or gifts provided free of charge without a sales transaction. Bonnie Kristian