A Democratic congressman plans to introduce a bill to restrict a Defense Department program that provides machine guns and other surplus military equipment for free to local law enforcement agencies across the country.
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said the legislation is in response to the death of an unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb. The bill comes as members of Congress have called for the Justice Department to investigate the shooting of a black teen by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
Police in riot gear and military garb have clashed nightly with protesters since Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown and at times have trained weapons on them from armored trucks.
Johnson said city streets should be a place for businesses and families, “not tanks and M16s.” He said a Pentagon program that transfers surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement has led to police agencies resembling paramilitary forces.