Through the 1033 program, the federal government has geared America's local police departments with military-grade equipment — ranging from airplanes to bayonets — worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
NPR combed through the transaction data for the program to find out where the equipment went and what kind of gear was involved. Since 2006, the Pentagon distributed more than 79,000 assault rifles, 205 grenade launchers, nearly 12,000 bayonets, nearly 4,000 combat knives, 50 airplanes, 479 bomb detonator robots, and much more to America's local cops.
One chart from NPR shows the counties that got the most guns per 1,000 people through the program:
It's not immediately clear why some of these places would need so much military-grade equipment. With the notable exception of Starr County, Texas, the counties and states on the list have modest crime rates, and they aren't hotbeds for drug or terrorist activity — the two main targets of the federal government's police militarization schemes.*
The proliferation of such weapons could soon come to an end. Following outcry against police militarization during the August protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama administration ordered a review that will consider whether local police should have the equipment, whether they need to receive more training if they obtain the gear, and how the federal government can better oversee the equipment's use. The Pentagon said it could even take back some of the equipment if it's deemed necessary.
To learn more about the militarization of police and how it relates to Ferguson, read the full explainer on the 1033 program, the full card stack on Ferguson, and watch the short video below:
*Update: This description was updated to include all counties on the chart, instead of just the first two.