The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, April 25, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Kent State Police Opt Against M-16s

Kent State Police Opt Against M-16s

But the department reversed its decision Friday after a emotional backlash from students and community members who remembered the shooting that rocked the campus almost 31 years earlier.

On May 4, 1970, four Kent State students were killed and 13 were wounded by the Ohio State National Guard during a Vietnam War protest.

Police department officials said they wanted to buy the rifles -- the same used by the U.S. Army -- due to their low price and reliability.

Ron Kirksey, Kent State University media relations director, said community criticism led the school police department to back out of the deal to buy the M-16s.

"We are not going to take receipt of these weapons," Kirksey said.

He said the fact that the M-16 was a "military-type" weapon was "threatening the connection between our police and the community we protect."

Kent State Chief of Police John Peach said the M-16s represented a national trend to move away from lower-grade rifles and toward more reliable weapons.

Peach noted that other weapons used by the police -- including 9mm Smith & Wesson handguns -- were below standards.

He added that M-16s could penetrate glass with a clear hole left behind -- making it less likely for bullets to deflect and hit a bystander.

Peach said police did away with shotguns several years ago because of the potential to injure others.

He said U.S. Department of Defense notified law enforcement agencies nationwide that there was a surplus of M-16s available for sale at a substantial discount.

"It just so happened it was a military weapon," Peach said.

He said the campus police plan to investigate alternatives to the M-16s over the next few weeks. The comparable weapons likely will cost more than the M-16s, Peach said.

Kent State senior Nick Smith, Student Senate executive director, said he did not understand why the campus police would need an automatic weapon.

"I think (Kent State University) is one of the safest campuses in Ohio," Smith said.

He said student government officials organized a petition drive to prevent the police from using the guns.

Smith said that the ordeal, a "36-hour fiasco," was so fiery because the weapons are "associated with destruction, not protection."

UNC Police Major Jeff McCracken said UNC has no plans to purchase M-16s.

"I don't think (these weapons) would be something appropriate for this campus," McCracken said. "The money could be better spent on other things."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel's Collaborative Mental Health Edition