San Diego lawmaker suggests making it harder for cops to buy military weapons

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SAN DIEGO — A San Diego lawmaker helped introduce a bill Friday that would make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to buy military-grade equipment.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) co-authored the legislation, which would require state and local police agencies to submit public documents, participate in a public hearing and receive majority approval from their local governing body before purchasing or acquiring military equipment.

The two said in a joint statement that the proposed law is in response to President Donald Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era executive order that kept some law enforcement agencies from gaining access to certain weapons — like tracked armored vehicles, grenade launchers and large-caliber weapons — and placed heavy restrictions on others.

“State and local law enforcement are a public safety service, not an occupying force,” Gloria said. “Militarization is not necessary in order to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The bill defines military equipment as manned and unmanned aircraft, armored and tactical vehicles, weaponized vehicles, wall-breaching weapons, firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or greater, all explosives, long-range acoustic devices and riot gear including batons, helmets and shields.

“Our streets in California are not war zones, and our citizens are not enemy combatants,” Chiu said. “Law enforcement in California are our partners in public safety. They are not military generals, and the weapons they carry should reflect that reality.”

The bill would call for law enforcement agencies to draft and submit a “military equipment impact statement,” describing each piece of equipment and its intended use, as well as a “military equipment use policy,” describing the equipment’s purpose and authorized uses, to their governing body at a public hearing.

If enacted, the bill would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Law enforcement agencies that currently possess military equipment would be required to gain approval from their local governments by May 1, 2019.

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