The M-14 is an assault rifle capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute. New Jersey's Division of Fish and Wildlife, whose conservation officers enforce the state’s wildlife laws and regulations, now has 16 of the military rifles—all acquired from the Department of Defense, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. Police agencies nationwide have long had access to a trove of surplus military gear given away by the Pentagon—everything from unwanted office computers and furniture, to machine guns and grenade launchers—and 155 law enforcement agencies in New Jersey have taken advantage of the free giveaway over the years. The state Attorney General's office steadfastly refused to disclose just which police departments received battlefield rifles, combat knives, or armored vehicles under the program—citing security concerns.
A fuller picture of the program has emerged revealing that a lot of heavy firepower went to many New Jersey police departments, both big and small, after the Attorney General—in response to a public records request by a state legislator—agreed recently to release a full list showing the disposition of all surplus military equipment in the state. The inventory said 80 police departments received 894 M-16 and M-14 rifles through the defense department program. State Sen. Nia Gill who pushed for release of the information, questioned the need for such weapons in police arsenals. “Military style equipment is more appropriate for a war zone than in community policing,” she said.