More than two years after it was initiated by President Obama, the Trump administration is preparing to lift a ban on the sale of some military style weapons to police, according to the Hill. The reversal, which was widely expected, was confirmed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday during a scheduled address at the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union.
“Those restrictions went too far,” Sessions said Monday. “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety. All you need to do is turn on a TV right now to see that for Houstonians this isn’t about appearances, it’s about getting the job done and getting everyone to safety.”
The FOP applauded the decision, blaming Obama – who said that the weapons made police seem like “an occupying force” in the community – for being “too concerned” about safety.
“The previous administration was more concerned about the image of law enforcement being too ‘militarized’ than they were about our safety,” FOP president Chuck Canterbury said in a Monday statement celebrating the new order.
USA Today had earlier rerported that the administration was preparing to announce the end of the ban on Monday. Trump is expected to sign an executive order officially ending the ban later in the day.
According to USA Today, the Obama administration executive order that blocked armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, ammunition and other heavy equipment from being transferred from military ownership to local police departments.
“The administration’s action would restore “the full scope of a longstanding program for recycling surplus, lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense, along with restoring the full scope of grants used to purchase this type of equipment from other sources,” according to an administration summary of the new program recently circulated to some law enforcement groups.
‘Assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be re-purposed to help state, local and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime.’”
The FOP has been lobbying against the ban since it was implemented, claiming that restricting access to advanced weapons makes it more difficult for cash-strapped departments in some areas to do their jobs. The previously-banned equipment also included tracked armored vehicles, bayonets and grenade launchers.
“The FOP and some other law enforcement groups have long been pressing for a reversal of the Obama administration policy, arguing that access to such equipment was needed, especially in cash-strapped communities, to better respond to local unrest.”
Obama’s executive order allowed for the limited use of some surplus gear, including aircraft, wheeled tactical vehicles, mobile command units, battering rams and riot gear on the condition that such equipment was approved by the federal government, a measure that police unions also resisted.