The Boston Police Department plans to arm as many as 200 patrol officers with semiautomatic assault rifles, a significant boost in firepower that department leaders believe is necessary to counter terrorist threats, the Boston Globe reports. The initiative calls for equipping specialized units, such as the bomb squad and harbor patrol, with the high-powered long-range M16 rifle. Police Commissioner Ed Davis has yet to finalize the plan.
The M16 rifle is a standard, military-issue weapon for U.S. armed forces. It can be used in the field by soldiers with a fully automatic function, operating as a machine-gun, but the Boston proposal is to arm them the weapons for semiautomatic operation. Department leaders have sought more potent weaponry to confront terrorists like those who attacked hotels and other sites in Mumbai, India, last November, killing 166 people and wounding 234 others.