At Thursday night's formal meeting the Marion City Council approved the purchase of 25 semi-automatic assault rifles to upgrade the arsenal of the Marion Police Department, at a cost of approximately $50,000.
The vote on the gun purchase was 5-1 with council member Craig Adamson voting no, according to Amanda Kaufman, assistant to the Marion City Manager. However, the board tabled another vote that determine how to pay for the weapons, setting that discussion and vote for the work session and formal council meeting on Feb. 19 and Feb. 21 respectively.
Marion Police Chief Harry Daugherty told Foxnews.com that the original plan was to dock the cost of the weapons, at $2,000 per AR-15, from the police officer's salary, and the guns would eventually be transfered to the officer's ownership after the amount had been paid. The council voted to give that portion of the decision more discussion.
Daugherty told Fox News that the AR-15's are meant as a counter measure against potentially heavily armed criminals, and he hopes they never will have to be used.
The proposal to equip half of the department’s officers with high-powered assault rifles is not in response to any threat, he said, though he noted semi-automatic weapons were used in several recent shootings, including last summer's massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, the December shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut and an ambush of two firefighters in upstate New York.
“They’re not going to be pulling out this weapon unless they absolutely need it,” Daugherty said. “But if something comes up, it’s nice to know that you’re on the same plane as what you’re dealing with.”
(There are several more Daugherty quotes and good general information at the above link, including why he'd rather be shot with an assault rifle than a shotgun.)
KWWL spoke to a few Marion citizens earlier this week about the proposal, and they gave mixed responses.
"The protection that we have now is significant, bringing in more guns is just asking for more trouble," said Jennifer Rockwell while shopping in downtown Marion.
"If the police department and the police officers think its necessary I would defer to their judgement," said Kim Teneick of Marion.
Marion joins other municipalities who have added AR-15s or similar weapons to their arsenal after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. The guns would arm 25 officers on the Marion Police force.