National Public Radio did something very useful recently. It investigated who got what in the U.S. government’s program to give military equipment to local police departments.
This initial list raised more questions than it answered. The main question is this: “Why?
79,288 assault rifles 205 grenade launchers 11,959 bayonets 3,972 combat knives $124 million worth of night-vision equipment, including night-vision sniper scopes 479 bomb detonator robots 50 airplanes, including 27 cargo transport airplanes 422 helicopters More than $3.6 million worth of camouflage gear and other “deception equipment”
First, why does the Army still buy bayonets? Bayonets have not been used in combat since about 1848.
Second, how would local police departments use them?
It turns out that weapons are a relatively small part of the 1033 program.
Each item in the database has a National Stock Number (NSN), which NPR used to determine the general category of each item and gain a broader understanding of what types of equipment have been made available through the 1033 program. The list includes building materials, musical instruments and even toiletries.
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