Melrose Park police sent an appalling message over Labor Day weekend when they auctioned off an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to raise money for their police union.

EDITORIAL

They apparently did not care that Melrose Park, the very town they have sworn to serve and protect, bans possession of AR-15s — semiautomatic rifles that can load magazines with multiple bullets.

The village bans the gun for good reason. Nobody need such a powerful weapon to protect themselves their homes or to hunt. And the guns can be exceptionally dangerous when they fall into the wrong hands. But, as Robert Herguth reported in Sunday’s Sun-Times, the police raffled off an AR-15-style rifle along with a 9mm handgun.

Nearby in Chicago, gangs in the Back of the Yards and Brighton Park increasingly are using AR-15-style and AK-47-style rifles, according to the Chicago Tribune. In May, two Chicago plainclothes police officers were wounded in the Back of the Yards by gunmen whose arsenal included an AR-15 rifle.

It is transparently obvious that we should be doing more to get military-style weapons off the streets, not actually encourage people to own them. But don’t take our word for it. Listen to the top cops in big cities across the country.

Last year, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said, “It’s challenging when people have AR-15s slung over [their shoulders] and shootings occur and crime and they begin running, and we don’t know if they’re going to shoot or not.”

Also last year, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said, “These types of assault weapons have no place on our streets.”

After one of his police officers was ambushed by a teenager with a semiautomatic AR-15 in 2011, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said, “There are just more and more assault rifles out there, and it is becoming a bigger threat to law enforcement each day.”

Congress allowed a ban on assault-style rifles to lapse in 2004, but Congress did not ban common sense. Reasonable people can and do disagree about the proper and lawful place of guns in American society.

But cops raffling off an AR-15 semi-automatic raffle? Just plain stupid.

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