Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonProgressives urge Democrats to hear from federal judge deeply critical of Roberts, conservatives House approves bill banning flavored tobacco products Clinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union MORE (D-Ga.) has reintroduced legislation to restrict the program that allows the Pentagon to transfer excess military equipment to local police departments in the wake of the Ferguson controversy.

The Defense Department's excess property program gives equipment originally intended for war — such as assault rifles, grenade launchers and armored vehicles — to state and local law enforcement agencies. The program came to light after police in Ferguson, Mo., were photographed wearing combat gear and riding in assault vehicles while managing violent protests after a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager last summer.


That sparked debate about whether local police departments are overly militarized.

"Our Founders opposed using a standing army to patrol our streets," Johnson said in a statement. "In fact, James Madison called this 'one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen.' Under the 1033 program however, America's streets are becoming increasingly militarized."

Johnson originally introduced the bill in the last Congress, but it never received legislative action.

The measure would prevent transfers of equipment including long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, grenades and military tanks.

Johnson's bill currently has 42 co-sponsors, including 40 Democrats and two Republicans.

The bill's release comes the same week that a Justice Department report found systemic discrimination by the town's police department toward black residents of Ferguson.