Does Purchasing 2 AR-15 Rifles Make the Town More Secure?
I plan to send this letter to all Board members and to Bruce Bohnsack. (Because he is interested and concerned) I will send an e-mail advising our membership of what I am sending as an individual,–not as from the GDO, since we haven’t had an opportunity to discuss this among the membership. I will ask for comments from the membership and we can proceed to the May 11th meeting with members somewhat informed about the issue.
Supervisor Roy Brown, Board Members: Mike Mortenson, Joan Snyder Joel Craig, Don Westmore
RE: Town’s purchase of two AR-15 rifles.
Dear Town Board Members
I wasn’t able to gather my thoughts in order quickly enough to make any comment about the decision to purchase the two AR-15 rifles for the police Department at the last Board meeting. However, I find I do have a few things to say and a few questions I’d like you all to consider before the next Town Board meeting in May.
Three of you, Mike, Joel and Don each said that you had reservations or qualms about agreeing to the purchase, but after listening to the reasoning on behalf of the police request you all reluctantly decided to support it. Joan Snyder said that if the Police felt they needed the guns they should have them. But I would like a better understanding of the reasons that moved you to vote yes to the request. I have several concerns that are probably similar to what you might have had in your own minds.
One: what is the increased security risk that fuels the need for such weapons? What would the scenario that would cause these weapons to be used? They are so inappropriate for so many situations. If there were an armed robbery of a bank in town, using an AR-15 within the building to apprehend the robber would put too many innocent bystanders at risk. If there were a hostage situation the same caveat would apply. If there was a home invasion and a gunman was still inside you would risk collateral damage to the home occupants.
My understanding is that for most of the situations I have described above the first call for help would go directly to the County Sheriff’s office and the State Police would be brought in. In any standoff situation they would certainly be involved, and would take command of any police activity. The only scenario I can think of where our own police force would be engaged would be a criminal act that took place right in front of them so that they would of necessity become directly involved. And how has the County Sheriff’s office reacted to the notion of small towns under their jurisdiction having these high-powered weapons at hand?
How long has it been that one of our police officers has discharged his gun in connection with a crime? Years? Decades? Ever? Our town doesn’t offer many economic targets for armed robbery; the more likely event would be a domestic dispute turned deadly, or possibly a hostage situation. Is an AR-15 the best weapon to employ in that case? The potential for multiple injured or killed bystanders seems so great unless these weapons are used very judiciously. For me, the use, or even the possession, of these weapons in our Town makes me feel more at risk, not more protected. This is certainly an escalation of firepower that can cause much harm.
I understand that the officers will have some training in the use of these guns, but I’d be interested in the extent of the training. Even military-style training often can’t prevent someone from shooting too soon or too carelessly from fear or nervousness or surprise. Does the training encompass making the judgment about when the AR-15 is the appropriate weapon? Should the officer get the shotgun or the AR-15 when he opens the trunk of his car? Will there be a policy set to determine the proper choice of weapons? It seems to me that a pistol or shotgun in the hands of a police officer is adequate to establish his authority for an arrest or to compel compliance with an order. The AR-15 is only good for killing. What are the criteria for deciding that killing is the only option? I would strongly urge that a thoughtful written policy be developed before any guns are purchased.
My understanding is that currently shotguns are carried in the trunk of the police cars. I assume, particularly because of their bulk, that the AR-15 rifles will also be kept there, plus ammunition, of course. Is this the most secure place for keeping these weapons safe from theft? Does our insurance cost go up because of these more deadly weapons? Probably not, unless some innocent bystander is injured, but what is the liability in that case? What is the moral fallout if one of our residents was injured in error by multiple high-velocity bullets? How would we deal with the regret and sorrow of an unnecessary death in our town?
Purchasing these guns seems to me to put the community more in risk than more protected.
I’m sure that you may all have heard from your neighbors and friends with opinions about this gun purchase—and now you have heard from me. I hope you will reconsider the purchase of these weapons.
140 Old Saw Mill Road
Germantown NY 12526
I agree entirely with Kay Abraham’s thoughtful assessment of this situation. I was deeply disturbed to hear about the potential purchase of such dangerous weapons for use by our officers. It would make me feel that I and my family are at greater risk, not lesser.
Thank you, Jan. Kay