Surprise winner of Obama stimulus spending: gun industry
Police departments are using some of the stimulus money to arm up, helping to make Obama 'gun salesman of the century.'
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The Barre, Vt., police department used stimulus money to buy six new handguns, 21 Taser guns, and five new shotguns, including one nonlethal version that shoots bean bags.Skip to next paragraph
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As part of its request for stimulus funds, Arlington, Texas, included $56,000 for military-grade carbines.
And in a neat twist, Smyrna, Ga.-based gunmaker Glock recently received $960 in stimulus funds to equip three federal Recovery Act antifraud officers in Washington with new sidearms. They might come in handy, as Washington is increasingly worried about scams and fraud involving stimulus bill dispersals.
Of course, the biggest chunk of the $4 billion in stimulus money intended for law enforcement is to hold onto officers and hire an estimated 5,600 new officers across the US. Most extra funds are being used not for guns but for other equipment – including cruisers and computers.
But Andy Molchan, director of the Professional Gun Retailers Association in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says part of the growing profit statements from gunmakers such as Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Sig come courtesy of the American taxpayer by way of some of America's 14,000 police jurisdictions.
"If there's money there, an agency is going to try to spend it," says Mr. Molchan. "They like to upgrade when they can."
But the interests of the gun industry aren't always the same as those of civil libertarians, many of whom are gun owners, says Mr. Patrick. The issue of police militarization is of particular concern, he says. "There's been a sort of creeping sociological phenomenon out there, where people are wondering, 'How many guns do the police need?' "
The fact that the stimulus package is helping to prop up gunmakers is proof to some even within the gun industry that fears about major gun-control legislation in the US are, at least for now, unfounded.
"The gun industry is always worried, but it's basically kind of a collection of worry warts as far as firearms legislation goes," says Mr. Molchar. "I think the Democrats have realized that for a long time they were the victims of their own [antigun] propaganda."
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