For over a century, law enforcement notables such as Wyatt Earp and the Texas Rangers entered many a fray carrying 10 or 12 gauge double-barreled smoothbores. Whenever a lawman thought—really thought—the oscillating air mover was about to be contaminated, it was this intimidating piece of hardware they wanted at hand. Today, the shotgun will be a pump or semi-auto, still chambered for the 12 gauge.
At one time the shotgun, specifically a pump, was the long gun staple in many of the patrol cars in this country. Then came the robbery at Bank of America in North Hollywood on February 28, 1997. Two rifle-wielding, armored-up robbers faced down over 350 LEOs armed with handguns and shotguns. While desperate officers borrowed rifles and shotgun slugs from a nearby gun shop, well-placed handgun rounds are what ultimately harried both felons.
This event sparked a debate in the law enforcement community about “patrol carbines” on the street. The rank and file officers could see the handwriting on the wall, even before 9/11 brought the specter of domestic terrorism to the public conscious. Administrators weighed the options, liabilities, and cost, eventually acceding to the demand for more firepower.
With the advent of the now ubiquitous patrol carbine, many expected the police shotgun to wane. This does not seem to have happened, as sales of tactical/police shotguns certainly have not declined. While agencies added patrol carbines to some or all units, it was rare for anyone to cease issuing shotguns to patrol or special units.
The Tactical Charging Handle insures you can’t miss when charging a round, and the Vang Comp Big Dome safety is easy to engage/disengage.
LAPD continues to issue shotguns for patrol officers to rollout with for any call involving a gun, and to specialized units such as SIS, SWAT, and Narcotics. They are not alone in having both shotguns and patrol carbines available to officers.
While no one would bet their life just on the shotgun’s intimidation factor, the mere appearance of a shotgun has persuaded many miscreants to have a change of heart. In the “stopping power” arena, a solid hit from the 12 gauge is sure to impress. As notable trainer Tom Givens puts it, “eight or nine 0.33 of an inch 00 buckshot pellets rattling around in the chest cavity has an immediate impact on most people’s ability to continue anything!”
For years, the staple of LEO shotguns was the pump gun with others gaining popularity in recent time. Today the semi-auto has made inroads into the LEO world as people more familiar with today’s semi-auto handguns and rifles join the agencies. And modern violent criminals travel in pairs or larger groups, which makes rapid follow-up shots critical.