New Federal "Ban" of Combat Gear for Cops is
the Kind of "Ban" Gun Owners Could Accept



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By Kurt Hofmann, May 20th 2015
JPFO writer contributor, © 2015.

"Obama administration bans some military-style assault gear from local police departments," says a Monday Washington Post headline. "Obama bans some military-style equipment provided to police," echoes an Associated Press article. "Obama to Ban Some Military Equipment from Police So They Won't 'Alienate and Intimidate,'" a Pajamas Media story chimes in.

The thing is, President Obama's executive order is not a "ban" of police possession and use of such weapons and other gear--at least not in any usual sense of the word. Under the new policy, police departments are completely free to buy the gear in question. What has changed is that they will no longer get the equipment for free, or at rock-bottom prices, courtesy of the U.S. military and other federal government agencies.

Or, more accurately, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers (whether we had ever wanted the police so-equipped, or not). That could be seen, I suppose, as a de facto "ban" for a great many small departments that could never fit the market price of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle into the budget, but by that standard, the vast majority of Americans are "banned" from owning Lamborghini automobiles and palatial mansions.

A nitpicking, irrelevant distinction? I don't think so. Look at it this way--what if proposals to ban private citizens' ownership of so-called "assault weapons" meant only that the federal government would not be subsidizing all or part of the purchase price? What if attempts to "ban" .50 caliber rifles were only attempting to clarify that it will be the responsibility of the aspiring rifle owner, and of no one else, to pay for it? What if the abandoned (for now) attempt on the part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to "ban" M855 ammunition simply meant that the federal government could not give it to us for nothing?

Do you think that such proposals would have drawn the kind of massive resistance gun owners have mounted against the proposed real bans of such firearms and ammunition? Of course not--we never asked or expected anyone to buy the stuff for us. We simply demand to be left alone to buy it or not, as we can afford it, or not.

This, of course, stands in marked contrast to those who, when clamoring a few years ago for the passage of "Obamacare" legislation, justified their demand on the basis of a "right" to health care. They knew, obviously, that health care was not about to be banned, and that no such effort was underway, or ever would be. No, when they shouted about their "right" to health care, they were not demanding the right to pay for whatever medical work they needed and could afford. What they demanded was that someone else pay for the health care they cannot afford.

Imagine the howls of outrage if gun owners started demanding federal subsidy of our life and liberty preservation arms. Of course, forcing the taxpayers to finance what we cannot goes directly against most liberty advocates' guiding philosophy, both in regard to personal independence and to freedom from illegitimate taxation, but heck--the anguished bleating from the gun ban zealots might almost make it worth it.

A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.

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