HELENA, Mont. – Today, a law that will heavily diminish the impact of federal programs militarizing local police in Montana went into effect.
Introduced by Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer (R-Superior), House Bill 330 (HB330) bans state or local law enforcement from receiving significant classes of military equipment from the Pentagon’s “1033 Program.” It passed by a 46-1 vote in the state Senate and by a 79-20 vote in the state House. Gov. Steve Bullock signed the bill into law in April.
Schwaderer told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle he was a surprised Bullock signed the bill. He said he feared the governor would cave in to law enforcement lobbyists who opposed the legislation and veto the bill.
“I’m incredibly pleased. In the latter part of the session you see so much partisanship so it’s heartening to see that both Democrats and Republicans could get behind it. It’s no lightweight bill. It substantially changes policy in a way that strengthens the civil liberties of Montanans.”
The new law prohibits state or local law enforcement agencies from receiving armored drones, weaponized, or both; aircraft that are combat configured or combat coded; grenades or similar explosives and grenade launchers; silencers; and “militarized armored vehicles” from federal military surplus programs.
But, as The Guardian reported last fall, handouts of such equipment from the Pentagon aren’t the only way the federal government militarizes local police. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants used to purchase such equipment amount to three times the value of the equipment given away by the Pentagon.
HB330 closes this loophole by banning law enforcement agencies from purchasing such military equipment with federal grants. They could continue to purchase them, but would have to use state or local funds, and the agencies would have to give public notice within 14 days of a request for any such local purchase.
“This foundation sets a massive precedent in Montana and the country as to what kind of society we want to have,” Schwaderer said of his bill. “If you get to the point where you need a grenade launcher, we’ve got the National Guard.”
Last March, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law that, while not as comprehensive as the Montana bill, prohibits receipt of equipment from the 1033 program without an express authorization from the local governing body. This made his state the first to take a step towards stopping the federal militarization of police….
Read Full Story: TenthAmendmentCenter.com
Phoenix is the Co-Founder of DontComply.com, ComeAndTakeItAmerica.com, and host of the Don't Comply Radio Show.
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