Every one of the 104 N.C. Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement agent, (except, apparently, two) is armed with a Sig Sauer assault rifle Model 522. (Read the News & Observer article here or the longer AP story here). This gives a whole new meaning to the term “fortified ale.” The next time you’re in your local tavern with your underage son or daughter, better put your hands up quickly when an ALE agent enters, if you’re given the chance and it’s not a “no-knock” search.
If there was every any question that the myriad State police agencies are getting out of control, this should answer it.
Why do State officials charged with enforcing laws on the purchase and sale of alcoholic beverages need to be armed with weapons used by U.S. Special Forces? Do moonshiners have “The Bomb,” one may ask.
One legislator expressed due alarm. “Wow, I didn’t know they had those,” said Sen. Ed Jones, a a retired state trooper. The 1,8000 member State Highway Patrol has five Sig rifles for use by special teams.
But the story gets better. According to the N&O, one of the rifles was stolen out of the car of ALE agent Bryan S. Irvin (no relation to this blogger). The car was parked in his driveway, and there were “no signs of force entry.” Guess Irvin forgot to lock his car.
Thieves also stole two 30-round magazines, a targeting laser and a barrel-mounted tactical flashlight. The story did not say if the magazines were full, nor did it note that the rifle and mags are not legal for private ownership according to Federal gun laws.
The other theft occurred in Fayetteville. Agent Derwin Brayboy reported his gun missing in March, but told police he didn’t know how long it had been missing.
Then there’s the agent who shot himself in the foot.
ALE director Bill Chandler has taken stern action in response to the situation. He said he was “extremely concerned” and so has orderd agents to lock their firearms — with their handcuffs.
Apparently, they don’t have the money to buy $14 gun locks, a required purchase for us regular citizens. But they can afford to buy the $1,500 Sig rifles.
Chandler said his was a “cutting edge” agency, equipped with the best equipment (unless they lose it). Now he’s arming his agents with $1,000 Kimber pistols, another Special Forces weapon, to replace their six-year old $640 Sig handguns.
And it won’t cost the taxpayers a dime, because it’s all being done with money confiscated accused (not necessarily convicted) “drug dealers.” He’ll even be able to get extras to give to retired agents who may work part-time.
Agents will be allowed to buy the “old” Sigs at half price. The story closed by noting that Chandler was an avid gun “buff’ but would not say how many guns he owned at home because “I don’t want to become a target.”
For the record, it really is no one’s business how many guns Mr. Chandler has. But I can’t help but think, “Why not? He’s better armed than the average citizen can be.”
Update: Of course, I agree with John Hood that the real issue is why does ALE exist at all. He says, “That ALE continues to exist as a separate law-enforcement agency is evidence of the fact that once bad ideas become public policy, it is exceedingly difficult to root them out and move forward (would-be health “reformers” and energy commissars, take note).