San Antonio will allow any police officer to carry his or her own assault rifle while on duty, says the San Antonio Express-News. It is an expansion of firepower that some consider critical in defending against heavily armed suspects. The policy takes effect as soon as the Police Department acquires enough ammunition to issue to officers who choose to bring their own rifles to work. Police union president Teddy Stewart said that could be many. Cops would carry their rifles inside a case and deploy them only with permission from a supervisor, except in emergency situations.
Thomas Aveni, co-founder of the Police Policy Studies Council in Spofford, N.H., said law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have embraced similar policies. Semi-automatic rifles, he said, can increase an officer’s accuracy and range. “It’s becoming the norm. It’s the new paradigm,” Aveni said. “I don’t want to see police militarized, but this is a separate issue. Do you want a cop with a handgun facing a guy with a rifle? That’s the basic math.” Said a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union: “Overall, the trend is, the more high-powered weapons introduced into a force, the more use-of-force issues we seem to have.”