There is, in fact, a plan to arm certain divisions of the BPD with the guns, bringing up a cavalcade of issues regarding the use of said weapons.
There could be circumstances in which the use of these weapons is called for, and nobody one wants to see the police outgunned in those situations. The oft-cited tragedy in Mumbai is, of course, a noteworthy example. However, the analogy fails to acknowledge that Pakistan and India are warring nations separated only by motorboat ride – and Bamford admits that Boston faces no similar threat.
Moreover, the article suggests that Bamford wants to hand out the guns to local police, enabling them to patrol the city’s neighborhoods outfitted with military assault rifles.
Finally, it is worth exploring whether these kinds of arms encourage excessive use of force, or whether the cause-effect relationship Bamford is implying is truly sound – the presence of sophisticated weaponry has not always proven the best measure against terrorists, as 9/11 taught us.
As with any issue regarding lethal force, we need to ask questions. What are these guns truly capable of? Who will get to use them, and under what circumstances – and who will be in charge of making those decisions?
Questions like these have come up before with far less-lethal weapons than military assault rifles. Consider the case of Victoria Snelgrove, who died in Boston in 2004 after a Boston Police officer shot her in the eye with a pepper spray bullet. At the time, the ACLU provided recommendations for “less lethal force” policies. If even weapons like this can cause problems, we should be much more careful when talking about semiautomatic assault rifles.