In 1997, two bank robbers armed with armor piercing automatic rifles opened fire on a Hollywood street, their bullets ripping through walls, car doors and police body armor.
Eleven officers and seven civilians were wounded before police were able to procure AR-15 rifles from a nearby gun dealer and gun down the robbers, who were also wearing body armor.

The event forever changed U.S. law enforcement and sparked a debate about the appropriate firepower for patrol officers.

The Carlsbad Police Department recently purchased more than 30 tactical rifles for patrol officers, Interim Chief Joey Gonzalez said. The rifles were purchased in an effort to give officers a chance against weapons available on the civilian market.

“We have to try to keep up with what’s out there,” he said.

On June 2, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill making it illegal for violent felons to own body armor, the Los Angeles Times reported. A similar law passed in California the year after the North Hollywood shooting was overturned by the state court of appeals in December of last year after it was determined to be overbroad.

Gonzalez said the .223 rounds fired by the tactical rifles will have more penetrating power and the rifles will allow officers to fire from a farther distance.

“Handguns are for close-quarters combat,” he said. “Rifles are engaging from a distance.”

CPD patrol officers are currently undergoing training with their newly-issued semi-automatic M4 rifles. Each officer will be trained in a 32 hour state-certified course to use the weapons, Gonzalez said. Once trained, the patrol officers will be able to carry the weapons in their cruisers.

Similarly, officers of the CPD Special Response Team are being outfitted and trained with Sig Sauer .223 rifles capable of firing three-round bursts, Gonzalez said.

The rifles and accessories were funded by a $51,000 federal Justice Assistance Grant, he said.

Source: Reid Wright for the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

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