A Sign of the Times

A recent report stated that a number of South Carolina State Troopers have started buying their own high-powered rifles and using them to replace the standard issue state-issued shotguns that tend to be less than lethal. Could things really be this bad in the state of South Carolina? The simple fact is that no matter what state you live in, violent crime (especially those against LEOs) is getting worse.

To make things even more interesting, the state’s Department of Public Safety has asked the State Legislature for $500,000 to help pay for enough AR-15 rifles to equip all state troopers. They say the purchase of these rifles has the potential to save many lives, especially in the event of a mass shooting in the state.

It’s True
According to Highway Patrol, Commander Chris Williamson has recently confirmed that a number of front-line troopers have been calling for more high-powered rifles such as the AR-15 in the last couple of years. In fact, approximately 50 officers have purchased their own AR-15s and were employing them in their vehicles instead of the standard issue shotgun.

So, the average AR-15 costs approximately $1,000 in comparison to the average shotgun that costs about half the price. But, should cost really be a deciding factor when it comes to protecting our brothers and sisters in law enforcement? While cost has to be factored in, what the average law enforcement officer may have to face on any given day, a shotgun may or may not be the best choice.

Rule Change
A recent change in S.C. Highway Patrol policies now allow troopers to bring their own rifles to work with them. However, the rifle must meet department standards and the trooper must complete an eight-hour course on the weapon put on by the department. This means that instead of being stuck with a shotgun that holds six shells and four in their pouch, officers now have access to a rifle that holds 30 rounds and can carry a total of three magazines. This gives them a total of 90 rounds with which to do his job.

To date, the agency has managed to equip 150 officers with high-powered rifles for use by their emergency response teams. The new budget request is for the purchase of 535 Sig Sauer M400 rifles. These will be used to equip the rest of the troopers who will also be required to take the initial 8-hour course and then an annual 4-hour refresher course.

Commander Williamson states that these rifles are more accurate at longer distances and that the spread from a shotgun shell could lead to innocent bystanders being wounded. The good news is that to date, none of the South Carolina State Troopers who have been equipped with the new high-powered rifles have yet to be involved in any type of incident where they have had to use them. However, Williamson states that his troopers “can definitely go in there and get the job done.”

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