The St. Louis, Missouri law enforcement union voiced approval Monday of officers carrying assault rifles — the city police chief, however, opposes the idea.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association believes a more powerful gun is needed in response to recent mass shootings. Police could have an easier time containing situations if they carry assault rifles. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson opposes the idea out of concern a more powerful gun could increase the chances of collateral damage.
“We think it’s important for the department to consider a different carbine,” Association Executive Director Jeff Roorda told the local affiliate of CBS News. “It’s really more about the caliber. Nine millimeter just doesn’t have the same stopping power that .223 and other rounds do.”
St. Louis police currently carry either 9mm Beretta Storms, semi-automatic carbine rifles or shotguns. The association wants officers to to carry .223 caliber assault rifles, which have more firepower. Dotson instead believes improved training and tactics are a better way to prepare officers.
“In combat, in war missions, I understand the larger caliber assault rifles,” Dotson told CBS News. “In an urban environment like this, you have to be very careful every time you let a round go when you’re shooting at a target. I’m concerned about collateral damage.”
National debate has centered on gun regulations in recent weeks in response to the Orlando mass shooting. An Islamic terrorist killed 49 people and injured many more when he attacked a gay nightclub June 12 in Orlando, Florida. Additionally, a total of 14 people were killed Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, California by a terrorist gunman.
Democrats have called for more gun regulations in response to the mass shooting. Republicans have countered the outcry by arguing the focus should be on Islamic extremism and not gun control. Republicans have also argued people can better defend themselves against shooters if they are also armed.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy even led a nearly 15-hour filibuster to demand action on gun control. House Democrats also led a overnight sit-in June 22 to impede Congress until they do something to enact more gun regulations. Critics denounced the sit-in as a fundraising scheme when it was revealed some participants used it to raise money.
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