Fake News: L.A. Cops/Media Tout Rocket Launcher Seizure That Wasn’t


Chief Charlie Beck and L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa, Dec. 27, 2012

The L.A. Police Department had big news on December 27. They had seized a pair of rocket launchers! This, of course, would have been shocking news if only they really had found “rocket launchers” in the City of Angels.

As the L.A. Police Department’s “gun buyback program” came to a close, Chief Charlie Beck had frightening news for his city. A pair of “rocket launchers” had been turned in.

Chief Beck proudly paraded the pair of launcher tubes at a press conference and gravely told those assembled, “Those are weapons of war, weapons of death. These are not hunting guns. These are not target guns. … they have no place in our great city.”

The media, of course, dutifully ran to press with the “news” of the dangerous weapons of war found on the streets of L.A.

Such outlets as NBC News pounced on the story. Unsurprisingly, so did the L.A. Times. Wire service UPI did, too. So did the The New York Daily News.

LA Weekly, was really in high dudgeon with writer Dennis Romero expressing his outrage.

“Cops picked up two — count ‘em two — rocket launchers (!) (and not one, as other outlets are reporting), an LAPD official with close knowledge of the program told us. Holy hell why do people on our streets have military grade rocket launchers?”

That might seem like a good question.

Only one problem. The story is pure puffery. These so-called “rocket launchers” the L.A. Police recovered weren’t a danger to anyone. In fact, at least one of them was never a danger to anyone.

It turns out both were one-use, AT-4 grenade launchers used by the U.S. Army in anti-tank operations. Yes they are grenade launchers (not really “rocket” launchers proper) but these tubes are pre-packaged weapons that can be fired only one time and cannot be reloaded. They are one-shot only weapons. So, yes, that means the tubes the police had were completely and permanently harmless.

But even more absurdly, at least one of the tubes was a training piece and never fired a grenade and never could have. It was a device used only for showing young soldiers what such a weapon looks like. It is a hands-on training tool that is 100% inert, un-fireable, safe as a plastic kid’s toy gun.

As Paul Szoldra explains, “It is, quite literally, a long, green fiberglass tube that does nothing.”

Further, these hunks of plastic can be bought at many military surplus stores and have even turned up on ebay in the past.

What we really have here is the L.A. Police making a big story out of nothing and a gaggle of Old Media lapdogs lapping up the fake story because they haven’t a clue about the topic.

Instead of the media giving us scary stories of rocket launchers infesting the streets of L.A., this story should have been reported as the L.A. Police trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizenry and the media alike.

… But, wait… There’s MORE…

L.A. Police Have History of Seizing Fake ‘Rocket Launchers’


Chief Charlie Beck May, 2012

Above we reported that the Los Angeles Police Department made a big show of having found “rocket launchers” during it most recent gun buyback program. We pointed out that the so-called launchers were being misreported and the police were illicitly using them as a scare tactic. But now we find that this same Police Chief has done this before.

On December 27 L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck displayed a pair of what he claimed were “weapons of war” turned in during his latest gun buyback program. Chief Beck told the media that a pair of “rocket launchers” turned up and he evidently wanted to scare his city and make waves in the media about his success in getting these “weapons of death” off the streets of L.A.

Of course, the “rocket launchers” Chief Beck showed the Old Media establishment were nothing of the kind. Instead, what Beck waved about during the December press conference were U.S. Army training devices that were dummy devices. They are essentially prop pieces made to show young soldiers what such anti-tank weapons look like and how they feel. These training devices have never been able to fire anything nor could they be made to do so.

After the press conference, the Old Media establishment dutifully posted stories with scary headlines such as the L.A. Times’ piece, “LAPD investigating rocket launchers taken at gun buyback.”

Dozens of other Old Media outlets followed suit with scary headlines and many followed up with false stories, misreporting, and downright scaremongering.

But upon looking into this story further, it appears that Chief Beck has played this misleading game at least once before and with the exact same device.

Back in May, Beck again paraded before the media with a “rocket launcher” he claimed his department had received during a gun buyback program. That piece, too, was clearly marked “trainer” and was incapable of ever firing any rockets.

All this raises many questions. Did the police really ever get any such devices in its gun buyback programs? Is this just a repeat tactic that Chief Beck is using to scare the public and make it seem as if his program is working? Does the Chief and his department understand at all that the devices he keeps claiming are “rocket launchers” are really nothing but harmless plastic tubes? Why do these “rocket launchers” keep showing up in L.A. buyback programs but not anywhere else in the country? Finally, why hasn’t the media called Chief Beck on his repeated fake rocket launcher claim

Many questions abound about these faux “rocket launchers” that seem to turn up every few months in Chief Beck’s gun buyback programs.

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Posted by on January 8, 2013.
Filed under 2nd Amendment, Asshats, Big government, Constitutional Issues, corruption, Culture Of Corruption, Democrats, Dumb Criminals, LA Times, Liberals, Media, Military.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, RightPundits.com, StoptheACLU.com, Human Events Magazine, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events.He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions, EMAIL Warner Todd Huston: igcolonel .at. hotmail.com"The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it." --Samuel Johnson

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  • ackwired

    So…How much does the LAPD pay for these things?

    • stan25

      The DoD probably gave them to the LAPD for demonstration purposes to show rookie cops what to look for. Instead, the Chief of Police uses them to propagandize something that any sane person would ever get. These are something that terrorists would more than likely to have than the average Joe Six Pack gun owner.

      • ackwired

        Well, the story says that they are available on ebay and that the LAPD said that they were turned in on their gun buyback program. Sounds like a possible arbitrage to me!

  • Commander_Chico

    The U.S. Department of Fear http://twitter.com/feardept

    approved that story. Who are you to dispute it, Warner?

    • herddog505

      So…. WTH debunks a “Department of Fear” story, and you’re busting his chops over it?

      Just a few days ago, you were wringing your hands over the “police state” that the NRA (!) wants to build on behalf of Big Firearms. Well, here we have the police waving around spent / training rounds to justify their gun buyback program and not-uncoincidentally beat the ZOMG! AMERICANS ARE ARMED TERRORISTS AND WE GOTTA DISARM THEM! drum.

      Make up your mind: either you worry about a police state, in which case we’d better keep our powder dry and view with great suspicion the actions and statements of the police, or else you’re really unconcerned about a police state, in which case I’m sure that Chief Beck would appreciate some fan mail from you.

      • jim_m

        Make up your mind: either you worry about a police state,… or else you’re really unconcerned about a police state,

        I keep telling you that Chico’s comments about freedom etc are nothing more than a pose. He pretends to complain about the current admin, but he attacks anyone who criticizes it. He constantly defends it.

        He doesn’t actually defend the rights of others He defends his rights, but he is willing to proscribe the rights of anyone else where it suits him. He will defend gun rights, but he’s willing to proscribe it to police, active and ex military. He’s willing to limit speech on national defense issues to people who have served. All the rights he defends are dependent solely upon his being a member of that group. He is willing to sacrifice anyone else’s rights.

        In the same manner he has argued for/against entitlement reform as long as he gets his. He is for reform as long as his pocketbook isn’t affected. He is against it to the point that he would rather see the whole nation collapse rather than contribute a dollar out of his pocket to saving it.

        • Commander_Chico

          Damn right I want mine.

          • jim_m

            At least you’re honest about your disingenuousness

          • Commander_Chico

            Hey, weren’t you demanding your social security the other day?

            I want that and the Navy Reserve pension I earned with blood and sweat. The blood was from cutting myself from a print out of a training schedule one Sunday morning when I was a weekend warrior. The sweat was from being in a boiler room a few times and being officer of the deck on the bridge down in the Caribbean and in the Med.

          • jim_m

            No. I was saying that Social Security was not the same as being on Welfare. Hugh had drawn an equivalence by saying that people on SS are “on the dole”. For anyone who has paid into SS and will get out far less than what they could have received by investing an equivalent amount of money independently, SS is not the dole it is a theft of funds.

            I was not demanding that I get my share. In fact I said that I am resigned to the fact that I will either get nothing, get something sharply reduced from what is currently being promised and probably have to wait longer to get whatever pittance they decide to pay me, if any.

      • Commander_Chico

        I was being ironic, herd, not busting on Warner. Guess it flew a mile over your heads.

        Still, he better watch out for the Department.

        • herddog505

          Oh. Sorry.

  • GarandFan

    Having several friends in LAPD, I can tell you one thing. Most of what LAPD has “gotten off the streets” in the past has been JUNK. Broken, inoperable JUNK. Now at least they insist (so they say) that the weapon be “operable”. Another agency recently reported that it had gotten a GRENADE LAUNCHER off the streets. At least one reporter was able to honestly say………’others call it a flare gun, like those found on most boats as safety equipment’.

  • LiberalNightmare

    I feel safer already.

  • 914

    The real ones were probably Holdered to Syria.

    • puhiawa

      Mexico, so more border agents and those damn white ranchers can be offed.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Baron Von Ottomatic

    Don’t be so naive. With a few simple modifications a determined criminal could easily use the pictured rocket launchers to beat an unarmed citizen to death. Kudos to Chief Beck and Mayor Moobies for making the streets of LA just a little safer!

  • Plinytherecent

    Clearly, we need empty plastic tube control laws. Let’s have Biden lead a task force!

  • Conservachef

    I see you mentioning the old media/MSM reporting of the scam, but you didn’t mention that Wizbang Pop’s own Paul Hoosen ran with the “OMG ROCKET LAUNCHERS!” story as well.

    As for the fake rocket launchers, how’s that old saying go? You can fool some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time?

    • http://www.shockandblog.com/ Jay McHue

      Well, at least Wizbang Blue is long dead. Imagine what that would’ve been like.

      • Paul Hooson

        I actually support 2nd Amendment rights. The government cannot legally cut corners with any basic freedoms without following a constitutional convention or some other legally prescribed process.

        Wizbang Pop deals in the sensational for shock value, such as outrageous headlines, naked celebrities, weird crime stories, as well as more serious business and technology news, music news, movie news, motorcycle and automobile news, etc.

        The LAPD police chief made this sensational story himself. He runs a police department that’s sometimes out of step with reality. For example, he still runs an obscenity investigation unit, which seems real out of step for a liberal city like LA, with Hollywood on one hand, and 100,000 gang members in the city. Who in that city really cares about the police reviewing adult films looking for some rare example of obscenity? That seems real out of step.

        Another reality is that even a plain plastic tube could still be more than enough for some screwed up high school kid to get himself in some trouble. With a few hardware store parts, any kid can build a potato gun or a Drano bomb for example. And a real nutjob like Timothy McVeigh built a powerful bomb that killed many children and women from common fertilizer and heating fuel. An offshoot of the KKK, The Minutemen, know how to make gunpowder from urine for example. With a common 3D printer, working plastic guns could be made from plastic materials that might go undetected with some security systems. Gun control laws will never be able to stop all of the outrageous and dangerous things that a crackpot could still pull off without even owning an assault weapon. Right here in Portland, some screwball built some Drano bombs and put them in some city parks. That’s real disturbed. There’s little that society can actually do to completely prevent crazy people from sometimes doing real mentally ill dangerous and crazy stuff. Normal people just don’t have any interest in things that blow up or other whacked-up stuff. Normal people are shocked and saddened by events such as that school shooting or Oklahoma City, etc.

        When crazy people do crazy stuff, Wizbang Pop will often write about it so that people can have a big laugh. That’s the role of Wizbang Pop, to entertain, not to politically soapbox or even express any ideology. James Holmes, with his crazy acts, orange hair, and deer caught in the headlights tweeked appearance was the perfect punching bag for more than a few jokes over at Wizbang Pop. My role is to make people feel better and put a smile on their face, when some screwball makes people feel bad. If I lift a few spirits, then I did my job over at Wizbang Pop.

        Wizbang, here, has a number of writers. Over at Wizbang Pop, I’m mostly all on my own. I have a big job to entertain people, and to write something that will make a few thousand people want to read over at the site. Kevin, the founder of this site, has given me a great opportunity over at Wizbang Pop. I try my very best to write something entertaining there and not let him down.

  • puhiawa

    When I was a kid the National Guard used to hand out to the kids launchers, practice grenades and .50 cal. shells after the public show.

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