This week, the U.S. Senate is voting on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We are supporting Amendment 2252 to prohibit military weapons from being transferred to local police departments.
What is the NDAA?
The NDAA is an annual Department of Defense budget that covers just about every aspect of military life. The Senate Armed Services Committee describes the NDAA as “the primary way Congress executes its Constitutional duties to ‘raise and support Armies,’ ‘provide and maintain a Navy,’ and ‘make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.'” Of course, it also covers the Air Force, Space Force, and all the family programs associated with the military.
The NDAA is a reflection of our military priorities and an opportunity for military advocates like us to influence how and where the money is spent.
Why do we care about this amendment?
Like many across the country, we were heartbroken by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black Americans at the hands of police. Many of us military families exerted our First Amendment rights last month, joined demonstrations against racism, and some were disturbed by the excessive force used against peaceful protesters.
Amendment 2252 would make changes to the 1033 program — a program where the Department of Defense (DoD) transfers military-grade weapons and equipment to local police departments. Not only would the amendment prohibit the most destructive weapons (armor-piercing firearms and ammunition, bayonets, grenade launchers, etc.) from being transferred, it would also prohibit this equipment from being used against First Amendment-protected activities such as protesting.
We see this as a necessary step toward demilitarizing our country’s approach to law enforcement. Weapons of war do not belong in our streets; in fact, they create fear and mistrust in the communities law enforcement are supposed to serve — especially communities of color. They have also been linked to an increase in officer-involved shootings and civilian deaths.
Moreover, this program has no tracking mechanism for how equipment is used once it’s transferred. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testified at a House Armed Service Committee about one situation in which local police officers in Lafayette Park (Washington D.C.) used National Guard shields with “Military Police” written on them to push back protesters. This lead some to believe and fear that the military was behind the use of force. Without close accountability, further conflations between police and the military may threaten to undermine relationships between us and our civilian neighbors.
We support these necessary changes to the 1033 program.
Here’s What YOU Can Do
Call your Senators TODAY and tell them to vote YES in favor of this amendment. Let them know that military families are deeply invested in these outcomes and watching the process closely.
Call Senate: Sample NDAA Script
- Dial the Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121. If someone answers, ask for one of your Senators. Or, you may receive an automated system where you enter your state and zip code to be connected. REMEMBER: If you vote and live in two different places, that means you have FOUR Senators to contact — TWO from each state!
- Whether you speak to a person or leave a message, provide your name and voting and/or living zip code. It’s best to keep it short and simple. Remember to always be polite!
- Here’s a sample script to help: “Hi, my name is [your name] and I am a constituent in [zip code]. I am calling today to urge you vote YES in favor of the Senate NDAA Amendment 2252 to prevent the transfer of military equipment to civilian police forces.”
If applicable, add: “I am a military family voter, and I do not want to see weapons of war used against protesting Americans.”
- That’s it! You’ve joined thousands of other voters calling the Capitol to demand improvement in our voting system. Pat yourself on the back and accept our thanks.
- Share this post and encourage friends to join us in this simple piece of activism.