This State Just Took A Huge Stand Against Obama Admin’s Militarization Of Police
by Wilmot Proviso, Western Journalism The state of Montana took a major step towards stopping the militarization of state and local police last week, passing a historic bill that would ban law enforcement in the state from receiving “significant classes of military equipment” from the federal government. Montana House Bill 330 would almost entirely restrict state and local police from acquiring surplus military equipment under the Pentagon’s controversial “1033 program,” in which local authorities can acquire surplus weaponry that range anywhere from armored personnel carriers to grenade launchers. “If you get to the point where you need a grenade launcher, we’ve got the National Guard,” said Republican Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer, the man who crafted the bill. “This foundation sets a massive precedent in Montana and the country as to what kind of society we want to have.” House Bill 330 passed by a 46-1 margin in the Montana Senate and 79-20 in the state House. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed it into law shortly afterward. The bill bans obtaining “drones that are armored, weaponized, or both; aircraft that are combat configured or combat coded; grenades or similar explosives and grenade launchers; silencers; and militarized armored vehicles” from the 1033 program, which has expanded significantly under the Obama administration. While previous statutes had prevented the Pentagon from directly giving arms to the police, it was reported last fall that Department of Homeland Security grants were being given to departments across the nation to purchase the equipment. In 2013 alone, DHS handed out over $900 million in funds earmarked for counterterrorism to state and local law enforcement to purchase such surplus weapons. Without such grants, most state law enforcement and almost all local police wouldn’t have the money to buy that sort of heavy-duty equipment. Additionally, a 2012 Senate report indicated that the 1033 program had made citizens uncomfortable all for naught: the program had shown “little obvious benefit to public safety” in spite of the money spent, according to the Tenth Amendment Center. In addition, the report highlighted that DHS grants had purchased tactical armored vehicles for locales such as Fargo, N.D., Syracuse, N.Y., Manchester, N.H., and Clovis, Calif.