CONCORD, N.H. (March 1, 2016) – A New Hampshire bill that would have restricted transfers of military equipment from the federal government to local law enforcement was killed in on the House floor.

HB1402 was tabled after the House Municipal and County Government Committee voted it inexpedient to legislate by an 11-4 vote.

Under heavy pressure from police groups lobbying against the bill, the majority of the committee members voted to maintain the status quo and allow local police departments to arm themselves with military weaponry. The committee missed a golden opportunity to curb the federal militarization of police departments in the Granite State.

Under Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 and other programs like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “Homeland Security Grant Program,” local police are able to obtain military weaponry and other hardware to the tune of $1 billion per year.

This naturally causes police departments to treat their own towns as war zones and the residents who they claim to protect and serve as potential enemy combatants.

Case in point: In New Hampshire, the Concord Police Department attempted to obtain a $258,000 “free” BearCat armored vehicle. In their application for the vehicle, the police chief said that it might be needed against nonviolent groups such as the Free State Project and other peaceful political dissidents.

We witnessed the extent to which local police have come to resemble standing armies during the Ferguson protests and following the Boston Marathon bombings. It is unsurprising that police officers often come to view their role as combat soldiers instead of peace officers. Protect and serve becomes command and control.

Additionally, bills like HB1402 would also cut off an indirect link between local law enforcement and the federal government which makes them more likely and willing to enforce unconstitutional federal laws, which in turn means they oppose our anti-commandeering efforts in fear that they might lose access to toys and goodies handed to them by the feds in exchange for playing ball.

TJ Martinell

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