copsSince 2006, the Pentagon has distributed 432 mine-resistant armored vehicles to local police departments. It has also doled out more than 400 other armored vehicles, 500 aircraft, and 93,000 machine guns.  As The New York Times reported in June, the Defense Department has been making use of unused military equipment by giving it to local precincts. This is despite the fact that violent crime in the U.S. has steadily plummeted since 1993. Between 1993 and 2012, the violent-crime rate dropped by nearly 50 percent. Yet today, local police—in cities and small towns across the country—are increasingly loaded for bear. How did this militarization of the police force come about? It all seems to have started with an obscure section in a defense bill passed more than 20 years ago. In 1990, Congress passed a National Defense Authorization Act with a clause allowing the “transfer of excess personal property” from the Defense Department to local law enforcement—otherwise known as Section 1208. The clause was included in response to the surge of violent crime and the War on Drugs in the late 1980s. (It’s worth noting that at the time, both chambers of Congress were controlled by Democrats.) More