- Scott Olson/Getty
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that President Donald Trump plans to loosen federal restrictions on local police agencies obtaining surplus weapons and equipment from the US military.
The weapons transfer program, called the 1033 Program, was established by Congress in 1990, and has since allowed local law enforcement agencies to acquire more than $5.4 billion in weapons and equipment, according to the Washington Post.
Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2015 that restricted certain weapons from being transferred, like grenade launchers, because he worried that these weapons and equipment could create an “us versus them” mentality, like in the events in Ferguson, Mo.
When Sessions made the announcement in front of the Fraternal Order of Police, he reportedly received a “roaring applause.”
Here’s what law enforcement agencies can now get.
- Cpl. Angelica Annastas/US Marine Corps
Camouflage uniforms are mostly used by SWAT officers, but critics, like Obama, worried that it could create an “us versus them” mentality.
The Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group that made recommendations to Obama in 2015 also noted that wearing camouflage uniforms in urban settings does not actually camouflage the officer.
However, “solid?color utility uniforms are not listed on the Prohibited or Controlled Equipment Lists and may continue to be acquired through Federal programs,” Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.
- Mark Wilson/Getty
“This type of equipment is likewise seen as incompatible with the concept of civilian law enforcement, particularly when other equipment, such as a utility knife, could be used for ordinary and other legitimate law enforcement purposes,” Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.
Weapons of .50 caliber or higher.
- US Navy
Weapons above 0.50 caliber, such as the Browning .50 caliber machine gun seen above, are also on the prohibited list because they are “very destructive and capable of penetrating structures and lightly armored vehicles,” Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.
Munitions of .50 caliber or higher were also banned for the same reasons as .50 caliber firearms.
- Master Sgt. Michel Sauret/US Army
- US Army/Sgt. Justin A. Moeller
“Although grenade launchers can be used to launch tear gas and other nonexplosive and less?than?lethal projectiles, their use and misuse can be detrimental to maintaining public trust in law enforcement, and other devices that do not have similar militaristic connotations are available to launch tear gas,” Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.
Armored vehicles with tracks.
- Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr/US Army
“Tracked armored vehicles are included on the Prohibited Equipment List because they are designed specifically for use in military operations, their appearance may undermine community trust when used in support of civilian law enforcement activities, and LEAs can find alternative equipment options,” Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group recommendations said.
Weaponized aircraft, vessels or vehicles of any kind.
- REUTERS/Jason Reed
Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group concluded that the prohibition of all seven of these groups of weapons and equipment, “is appropriate because the substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items, which are seen as militaristic in nature, could significantly undermine community trust and may encourage tactics and behaviors that are inconsistent with the premise of civilian law enforcement. These concerns outweigh the Federal Government’s interest in providing this equipment to address law enforcement needs (that could not otherwise be fulfilled).”
“The police are public servants, not an occupying force,” Balko wrote. “They’re there to protect and serve, not to harass and intimidate. It was a modest attempt to address the ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” journalist Radley Balko wrote.
Trump, on the other hand, has argued that police agencies need these weapons to to be safe, and to counteract criminal organizations.
Not all Republicans, however, are supportive of rolling back Obama’s regulations.
Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. I disagree with AG Jeff Sessions on 1033…
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 28, 2017