Rep. Hank Johnson re-introduces bipartisan bill to restrict military-grade weapons from police agencies


WASHINGTON, D.C. –Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) on March 9 re-introduced the bipartisan Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2021 that would place restrictions and transparency measures on the “1033 program,” which allows the Department of Defense (DOD) to transfer excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies.


The bipartisan bill was introduced with 75 cosponsors. To view the bill, click HERE.


“Our neighborhoods need to be protected, but Americans and our founding fathers opposed blurring the line between police and the military,” said Johnson. “What has been made perfectly clear – especially in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder – is that Black and Brown communities are policed one way – with a warrior mentality – and white and more affluent communities are policed another way. Before another town is transformed into a warzone with gifts of grenade launchers and high-caliber rifles, we must rein in this program and revisit our view of the  safety of American cities and towns.”


Johnson, a former county commissioner in DeKalb County, Georgia, said there is something fundamentally flawed with local law enforcement departments bypassing their local governing authority – such as a county commission, board or council – to receive weapons of war without any local accountability.


Through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office, which oversees the 1033 program, the Department of Defense has transferred $7.4 billion in surplus military equipment – often from warzones overseas – to our streets, for only the cost of shipping.


“With over 1,000 deaths at the hands of police every year, we should be looking to restrain police, not arm them with deadly militarized weapons. Sadly, that’s exactly what we’re doing with the 1033 Program,” said José Woss, legislative manager at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “As a Quaker, I know that each and every single life is precious with that of God dwelling in their soul. It’s alarming that peaceful protestors and everyday citizens are treated like threats in a war zone. The dehumanization and violence on display in communities of color is even worse. The 1033 program has no place in our streets, it must be ended.”




The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act would:


  • Prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as military weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, weaponized drones, armored military vehicles, and grenades or similar explosives.


  • Require that recipients certify that they can account for all military weapons and equipment. In 2012, the weapons portion of the 1033 program was temporarily suspended after DOD found that a local sheriff gifted out army-surplus Humvees and other supplies. This bill would prohibit re-gifting and require recipients to account for all DOD weapons and equipment.


  • The bill adds requirements to enforce tracking mechanisms that keep up with and control transfers of the equipment, implements policies ensuring that police agencies can’t surplus the equipment for resale, and defines drones more clearly.


Cosponsors (75): Adams (Alma), Barragan, Bass, Beatty, Beyer, Blumenauer, Bowman, Brown (Anthony), Bush, Carson, Castor, Cicilline, Clark (Katherine), Clarke (Yvette), Cohen, Connolly, DeFazio, DeGette, DeSaulnier, Eshoo, Espaillat, Evans, Foster, Gallego, Garcia (Chuy), Garcia (Sylvia), Gomez, Green, Grijalva, Hastings, Hayes, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Jayapal, Jones (Mondaire), Kaptur, Khanna, Larsen, Lawrence (Brenda), Lee (Barbara), Levin (Andy), Lowenthal, Matsui, McClintock, McCollum, McGovern, Moore (Gwen), Moulton, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Payne, Pingree, Pocan, Porter, Pressley, Price, Raskin, Rush, Schneider, Scott (Bobby), Scott (David), Schakowsky, Sewell, Speier, Takano, Tlaib, Tonko, Torres (Ritchie), Trahan, Veasey, Velazquez, Watson-Coleman, Welch.


Supporting Organizations: American Federation of Teachers, Beyond the Bomb, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Center for International Policy, Center on Conscience & War, Church World Service, CODEPINK, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Common Defense, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Defending Rights & Dissent, The Feminist Foreign Policy Project, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Gays Against Guns, Government Information Watch, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Historians for Peace and Democracy, Human Rights First, Japanese American Citizens League, Jetpac, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Justice is Global, Justice for Muslims Collective, Massachusetts Peace Action, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, Open the Government, Oxfam America, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Poligon Education Fund, Progressive Democrats of America, Project Blueprint, Project On Government Oversight (POGO), The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Restore The Fourth, ReThinking Foreign Policy,, Secure Families Initiative, Security Policy Reform Institute (SPRI), Southern Border Communities Coalition, Stand Up America, The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society, U.S. Labor Against Racism and War, Veterans for American Ideals, Women’s Action for New Directions, World BEYOND War.


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