Salon's Jim Newell, citing a report from The Hill, is breathlessly reporting that a bill to curb a program funneling Pentagon weapons to police forces is being backed by a gun rights group:
Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, has been working on a bill to demilitarize the police for sometime, his office said....But how much of a priority is this bill for Gun Owners of America? I'm looking at GOA's website: there's nothing about this bill whatsoever. GOA's Twitter feed? Nothing. Facebook? Nothing. What are GOA's priorities? Defending the legality of AR-15s. Telling President Obama that the Second Amendment doesn't give citizens the right to bear arms. (Silly liberal -- the right to bear arms was personally bestowed by God.) Reminding members that Colorado's new gun laws are still being challenged in court. Oh, and approvingly citing a story about the current spike in gun sales in the St. Louis area.
What's most interesting about Johnson's proposal, at the moment, is the odd left-right political coalition of outside groups that's organizing around it. The ACLU supports it, as does Gun Owners of America. Wait a second? Did we just say "Gun Owners of America," a crazy group to the right of the NRA, supports it? Apparently so:
According to the Defense Logistics Agency, more than $4 billion in discounted military equipment has been sold to local police departments since the 1990s.The support of a group like GOA could provide cover to Republicans and conservative Democrats looking to support a police demilitarization bill.
"Why are those guns available to the police?" asked Erich Pratt, spokesman for the conservative Gun Owners of America. "We don't technically have the military operating within our borders, but they're being given the gear to basically operate in that capacity."
Gun Owners of America and the ACLU are both backing a forthcoming bill from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that would curtail the sale of DOD weapons to local police departments.
Meanwhile, no one's reporting that the NRA has said anything about this bill one way or another. There's no mention of it at NRA.org, at the website of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, at the Twitter feed of the NRA or NRA News or NRA-ILA, or at the Facebook pages of the NRA or NRA News or NRA-ILA. (There isn't even a word at NRA-ILA Missouri's website or Facebook page.)
The gunners don't really care about this. GOA does seem to be aligning itself with Rand Paul (the group has worked with Paul in the past, and a banner on the group's Twitter page quotes him praising the group), but the issue is not going to be a priority. At the end of the day, this will be liberals and maybe Paul and a handful of libertarians vs. both the military and the law-and-order establishment, including nearly all Republicans.
And if you doubt that Republicans are going to get back in line, see what Fox News has been airing:
An all-white male panel of Fox News experts defended the militarization of police in Ferguson, Missouri and the actions of police officer Darren Wilson, arguing that local police districts need to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and armored vehicles to defend the country from Islamic terrorists....That's Fox issuing marching orders. Republicans will march.
"The response last night is what needs to happen," retired NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik told Fox News on Monday morning.
Bo Dietl, a Fox News contributor and former NYPD detective, went even further. He argued that authorities in Ferguson must "take charge" and defended arming local precincts with unused military equipment from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars by invoking the threat of global terrorism....
"They're coming back, they're coming back these extremist Muslims are coming back and they're going to do something in the United States and you can't fight them with pea shooters," Dietl said....