Sheriffs demand more military weapons to thwart mass shootings

Sheriffs demand more military weapons to thwart mass shootings
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In the wake of a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, law enforcement officials are complaining about new restrictions on police use of military-style weapons they say could help them respond to mass shootings.

The National Sheriffs’ Association suggested Friday that law enforcement officials need more firepower.

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“One need only look at recent incidents, including the tragedy in Oregon, to see how this equipment is needed by our agencies and officers,” said Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association.

“It is disgraceful for political operatives with no law enforcement experience to issue guidance on law enforcement tactics without taking into account the true ramifications of their actions,” he added.

The Obama administration has taken steps to limit the Defense Department’s ability to give old military-style equipment to state and local police departments

The White House’s Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group recommended banning police departments from acquiring grenade launchers, certain armored vehicles, armed aircraft, bayonets and high-caliber guns and ammunition through this program.

The administration formed the group in the wake of public outcry over scenes of heavily armed police officers responding to riots related to the shooting of unarmed black men. It determined that putting this military-style equipment in the hands of police officers is likely to put the public at risk.

But the sheriffs say the “hastily-written requirements" will limit their ability to respond to mass shootings.

The most recent mass shooting occurred Thursday, when police say Chris Harper Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, killing 10 and injuring seven.

The sheriffs say they need military-style equipment to respond to shootings like this.

“We call on President Obama and his appointees to rescind this deplorable requirement immediately and work with elected sheriffs to develop a plan that protects people and manages our equipment effectively,” Thompson said.