Metro to let police officers carry AR-15 type rifles

Monday, January 14, 2013 at 6:23pm

A new policy at the Metro Nashville Police Department will allow roughly 460 trained officers to carry personally owned rifles — including those of the AR-15 variety — in their polices vehicles while on duty.

Chief Steve Anderson cited recent shootings such as in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., involving high-powered weapons as justification for allowing officers to carry similar weapons.

Accord to police spokesman Don Aaron’s office, currently about one third of Nashville’s 1,373 sworn officers personally own such rifles.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Anderson said, “It has become increasingly clear that a pistol and shotgun may not be enough for an officer to stop a threat to innocent citizens. This policy change is in the best interest of public and officer safety.”

The policy would apparently only allow officers who receive proper training and approval to carry rifles in their department vehicles while on duty, and the rifles are only to be used “when it is clear that a tactical advantage over a criminal suspect is warranted. The rifles are not to be used for routine calls,” according to the department.

Rifles had previously been limited to officers on specialized assignments, such as SWAT and canine officers.

Prior to approval for use, each rifle is to be inspected for uniformity, and each officer must complete a three-day training course and then be approved by MNPD training staff. The rifles are not to be modified after they are approved and are to be subject to inspection at any time, according to the department.

Initially, 20 officers from various department components who own authorized rifles are to undergo the first training course later this month.

21 Comments on this post:

By: courier37027 on 1/14/13 at 9:03

"Chief Steve Anderson cited recent shootings...involving high-powered weapons as justification for allowing officers to carry similar weapons." Justification without public hearings, absent of policy studies, and zero debate.

By: yogiman on 1/15/13 at 6:29

Rifles are for use in encounters at a distance. Except on a raid, an officer's encounter is "one step away" from the person they are encountering. A pistol would be the most practical weapon to use if necessary.

By: wasaw on 1/15/13 at 9:49

How things change, or do they? The handgun and shotgun were the weapons of choice for the past sixty to seventy years at the NMPD. The rationale was that they had less penetration through walls and vehicles, in the case of a missed shot. Officers are responsible for every round they fire. The rank and file want to be armed at least to the same level as the bad guy. For 99.99% of all situations, the AR's will put them at that level.

Please do not question where I sit on this issue. The officer on the street in Nashville should have this weapon; but why should they be required to provide their OWN weapon? Metro did this same action about twenty years ago when they first approved the carrying of the semi-auto pistol. If you owned one of the four or five approved auto pistols, you were allowed to be armed at least to the level of most bad guys. Eventually Metro popped for the purchase of semi-auto's for all officers. Now we hear they are doing the same thing.

Chief Anderson, why should your officers spend $2000 of their hard earned money in order to make sure they return home safely. Have you checked the price of an AR-15 recently? Since the Newtown incident, the retail price of the AR has gone through the roof. Chief Anderson, do what's right by your men. If they really need this weapon, provide it for them. What's next? Are you going to require them to purchase their own marked car?

By: Moonglow1 on 1/15/13 at 10:05

Moonglow1: Agree any weapons used by the police should be supplied and maintained by metro. I support having the police use high powered weapons, but I do not support them using personal weapons.

By: JeffF on 1/15/13 at 10:13

wasaw, maybe they could buy them secondhand from the Franklin PD. They have been providing rifles to their officers for years.

By: CrimesDown on 1/15/13 at 10:23

This has been in the works for a long time. It is a shame that any officer that doesn't already have a rifle will have to pay $1,500 for one now, instead of $599 at Cabela's a month ago.

By: jsabrown on 1/15/13 at 11:11

No, the shame is that we're choosing to militarize our civil police forces instead of implementing reasonable gun control. I'm getting really tired of subsidizing universal unfettered access to guns.

By: CrimesDown on 1/15/13 at 11:21

jsabrown...?

By: Moonglow1 on 1/15/13 at 11:52

Moonglow1: jsabrown, agree we should also have a sensible gun control policy. I support background checks, closing the gun show loophole and implementing an assault weapons ban.

By: jsabrown on 1/15/13 at 12:34

@CrimesDown

I have to pay for militarized cops.
I have to pay for additional emergency medical people.
I have to pay for armored vestibules in public buildings.
I have to pay for lockdown drills in my schools.
I have to pay for armed guards in public building, including elementary schools.
I have to pay for prisons to house people who use guns to hurt others.
I have to pay for trauma centers to address the gunshot wounds.
I have to pay to help widowed parents and orphaned children.

I have to pay all this and much more, just so anybody can go buy an AK on a whim and pay only an additional $1000 or so above what I have to pay for their ability to own that gun. Sure, they have to pay their share of those costs, too, but here's the rub-- I don't want to own an AK.

The gun lobby has successfully socialized the cost of guns. I say, if you want to own a gun, then YOU should have to pay those costs. Or at least a much higher proportion of those costs than you do now. The very same people who scream and cry when we suggest doing this very thing with healthcare have very successfully implemented socialized gun ownership.

Stop being a welfare leech and pay for your own freaking guns.

If gun owners were obliged to carry more costs associated with their guns, then gun owners would be motivated to advocate to implement rules that prevent risky people from owning guns. Universal background checks. Licensing. Yadda. They would find ways to both allow broad gun ownership and a society safe from gun violence, rather than simply prattling on about paranoid delusions.

There are well-understood ways to do this. We do it with automobiles when we require liability insurance for car owners. It requires licensing and registration to operate effectively, but it can clearly be done and th' gub'mint has yet to come take away my pickup truck.

By: wasaw on 1/15/13 at 7:55

jsabrown, some of the items you've touched on have some validity, but most of your post has absolutely NO place in this discussion. If the local courts dealt with the illegal possession of guns as it should, we wouldn't be debating the question of should Metro officers be armed with AR-15's.

When was the last time you were in a Nashville court when someone was charged with illegal weapons possessions? The typical sentence in Nashville is probation and loss of weapon. WOW!

Again, if Chief Anderson can prove that his officers need to have access to an AR-15 while protecting this city, this city should pay for those AR-15's. The real issue is that the mayor needs more money from the General Fund to pay the mortage on the Bridgestone Arena because the Predator haven't been eaing at the table. Our politician failed to factor in how the mortages on the Titans and Predators playgrounds would be played when the millionaire players would be on strike Come on Dean, cut back on some of the pork and arm our Nashville police officers.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/16/13 at 9:06

Well, they can carry any type of weapons they want to carry. I have Wonder Women bracelets that can block any and all bullets that may come my way.

By: jsabrown on 1/16/13 at 12:42

Wasaw, since 80% of the guns used in gun crime are obtained legally, I really don't think you have much of a leg to stand on. Even if the courts dealt with 100% of illegal gun possession cases, the lion's share of guns used in crimes would remain untouched.

I happen to agree that we shouldn't be building pro sports venues with taxpayer money. However, even if the pro sports playgrounds weren't a liability for our city, this would still be a direct result of socialized gun ownership.

I don't want our police officers to have any need to carry assault rifles. It's not merely that I don't want to pay for it. The role of a civil police officer isn't simply to be a man with a gun shoot at "bad guys." That's not even his primary role.

It's as if every doctor had to spend much of his time on trauma medicine to address automobile accidents. While it's true that we need such doctors, things work better if there are guard rails, and driver training, and speed limits so MVAs can be better avoided. And I don't want my doctor trying to treat my flu like it's a broken arm.

If this were simply a fact of life, a necessary problem, I wouldn't be terribly upset. However, since we have mechanisms that can serve to put more of the full cost of gun ownership on gun owners, I'm fairly well annoyed when you suggest more of my tax money needs to be spent on arming cops.

By: jsabrown on 1/16/13 at 12:43

To my mind, it's like we're declaring we need more trauma doctors because we can't afford to put seat belts in automobiles.

By: CrimesDown on 1/16/13 at 12:53

jsabrown...I'm still not sure what you are ranting about. I pay all costs associated with every gun I own. I am also responsible for every bullet I fire from them. Are you saying that I alone should be responsible for every bullet fired from every gun a criminal uses? You do realize that AK's and AR's are at the bottom of the list of guns used to commit crimes, don't you.

By: CrimesDown on 1/16/13 at 1:08

Over 1000 people were killed in automobile accidents last year in Tennessee. I could cut that number in half, with one simple act of legislation, that would cost about $75 dollars per vehicular occupant. For an additional $50 per occupant, I could cut the number from over 1000 to under 333, possibly under 200. If every occupant wore a helmet, it would be cut it in half. If every occupant wore a four point restraint and a helmet, it would cut the 1000 number to less than 2/3 of that. Since this could be done so easily, why should I have to share in the cost of higher insurance and health care costs? I know why, it's a matter of people's freedom of choice. If all future sales of any guns were banned, it would do little, if anything, to stop criminals from possesing guns and using them in crimes. If what I spoke about concearning vehicle saftey was inacted tomorrow, it would save hundreds of lives in Tennessee and thousands of lives nationwide.

By: jsabrown on 1/16/13 at 5:13

CrimesDown: I'm not ranting. I'm simply saying I'm tired of paying for the cost of your gun. It's a statement of fact. I pay a significant amount of taxes to offset the broad cost of your unfettered gun ownership.

In truth, I have only your word to suggest that your gun will never be used in a crime. The only community standard applied to your gun ownership is some vague sense of "personal responsibility" that means whatever you decide it means. I've little doubt that you think you're "personally responsible" with your guns, but had I asked Nancy Lanza if she were "personally responsible" with her guns on 13 December, I'm quite certain she would have said she was.

I simply can't take you at your word on this.

So the problem is that I really have no way to know, from an economic point of view, which gun is more likely to murder a bunch of first graders. I can't tell you from Eric Harris. Therefore, I have no choice but to regard every gun as being equally dangerous. At that point, it's a matter of simple arithmetic-- take the total cost of gun violence, in extra cops, prisons, armored vestibules, etc, and divide it by the number of guns. That's the additional cost per gun that's spread out to every tax payer, even if they don't own guns.

Since I don't want to own a gun, I don't like that at all. As a safe gun owner, you shouldn't like that, either, because you're paying more than your actual risk suggests you should. I mean, presuming you're really as safe as you say you are.

We don't do this with other potentially dangerous mechanical and chemical things. In order to operate a car, you have to have an operator's license and register your cars. You have to carry liability insurance. If you're caught behaving badly with a car, your license can be suspended or revoked.

The liability insurance is the genius part of it. The price you pay for this is based on the risk your insurance company assesses to you. If you're young and you've got a sports car, your insurance rates will be high. If you're 40 with a minivan, your rates will be relatively low.

This means if you manage to hurt someone with your car, then your insurance company is liable for that damage. As a result, you are provided with financial incentive to enact safeguards to help make your rates go down, such as seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, etc.

If we applied this model to firearms, it would serve to require you to pay for your own guns. You should be required to buy liability insurance when you purchase a firearm and, if you allow that insurance to lapse, you should be required to turn in your gun or risk jail time. Shucks, we could even require that the insurance company retrieve the guns of its customers who fail to keep up payments. Now, THAT would certainly ensure the insurance company doesn't allow guns to be sold to nutbags, now wouldn't it?

The real beauty of this idea is it bans no guns at all. You could own any gun you want, so long as you're willing to pony up for the associated insurance. Go buy yourself Ma Deuce, if you like, just make sure you pay the insurance.

Can't afford the insurance? Then you can't afford the gun, because the insurance is simply there to pay the broader costs of your gun. Of course, if you want to see your gun insurance rates go down, them maybe you'd want to sign on to some things that would make it go down. Like storing your gun in a gun safe. Like securing ammunition separately from the firearms. Like required gun safety training. Like licensing and registration of guns. Like real, thorough background checks. But those are just suggestions, because we would let gun owners work out what things are reasonable.

Hey, I'm just advocating to let the free market handle this problem. Why do you insist on being such a socialist leech?

By: CrimesDown on 1/16/13 at 10:14

jsabrown...you are rambling. I have insurance on my guns and myself. Most people do. It's called home owners.insurance. All my guns are listed in my policy. My insurance company notified me they were going to cancel my policy two years ago. It had nothing to do with my guns. It was my inground pool that they didn't want to be responsible for. The one I have had since 1992 and never filed a claim. I could get mad or do what they asked, so guess what, I filled in my pool. They, unlike many uniformed people know that guns are nowhere near a problem for them. They have never said a word about the 35 guns I own, that are on my policy, just my dangerous pool. What has made you believe that people aren't responsible for their guns? They are, and it's no different than your vehicle.

Explain your weird insurance idea to me. I can't understand what you are trying to say, unless you are just joking about it, in which case I just missed the joke.

By: CrimesDown on 1/16/13 at 10:23

jsabrown...Just one heads up. I have yet to read one word in the Constitution about having a right to own a car, or a horse and wagon, since that was the mode of transportation, other than walking, at the time the Constitution or the 2nd Amendment was written.

By: jsabrown on 1/17/13 at 9:11

CrimesDown, you need to learn to read and comprehend things more complex than a cereal box. Then we can discuss "rambling." :-)

The sort of liability insurance I'm speaking of differs from your property insurance. I'm speaking of liability insurance that would pay out directly to victims if you took your guns and hurt somebody, accidentally or deliberately. Or if your guns were stolen and used in a crime (presuming you had secured them appropriately). If your guns weren't secured appropriately, I would still require payout by the insurance company, but I would allow them to seek compensation from you.

There's no reason such a policy can't be written. It would be more expensive than your current property insurance, but that stands to reason. It's not simply securing you from theft. It's securing me from having to pay the broader cost of your gun ownership. As I said before, you could reduce that expense by seeking to make your guns more secure, or by limiting the access to guns of dangerous people. Or you could just pay the higher rate-- another beauty of this is that regulation becomes something that gun owners have reason to advocate.

As for "the right to have a car," the Constitution affords you the right to vote, but the State of Tennessee requires two separate licenses to execute that right. If you don't think Voter ID laws disenfranchise voters, then I don't think gun regulation disenfranchises gun owners.

By: CrimesDown on 1/17/13 at 3:49

jsabrown...Thanks for elaborating. I just wanted to make sure what you were saying. I called my insurance agent to make sure....and just as I thought, you are wrong. My guns are covered for theft and I'm covered for accidents that might happen while I'm using them. As far as being responsible for something that might happen with them if they were stolen, I was told that I can't be held responsible for a theifs misuse of them as long as they were secured just as any other of my belongings were. He also told me that it was almost exactly the same with my vehicles. Neither I, nor my insurance company could be held responsible for damages resulting from a criminal act if they were stolen, as long as standard measures were followed. He said that If I left my keys in the car, while I went in a store, there might be an argument. As of today, they have never had that situation arise though.

Listen jsabrown...you can carry on about insurance, or anything you want to, but what it boils down to is that there are criminals that will steal cars, t.v.'s, knives, sledge hammers etc. and you can't blame law abiding people for it, no matter how much you would like to.

I don't mind in the least to have a picture i.d. to purchase a gun.