Baseball is mom, apple pie, and assault rifles

The security show is in the spotlight in Milwaukee because of some pushback to the sight of cops toting assault rifles at Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

“It’s kind of a sign of the times,” a cop said to one fan, according to Jim Stingl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Is it?

This is the first season the police have carried M4 rifles.

Even now, the officers are attracting attention. Some baseball fans scowled as they walked by. “Really?” some said, suggesting it was overkill. Others gave the officers a thumbs up. “You don’t want to mess with him,” one guy said.

“Is it necessary to have a machine gun?” said Cooper, of Pleasant Prairie. “I never thought I’d see one here.”

“I think it’s way over the top. How much firepower do you need?” said Chuck Ulrich of Kenosha.

Jason Hernandez of Whitefish Bay said this reminds him of the police you see in Europe. He called the extra security terrific.

“I’m anti-gun, but I think this is the greatest,” he said. “Ten years from now, this will be commonplace. Maybe five.”

It’s an escalation for sure in a league that hasn’t had any problems with terrorists and mass shootings. The metal detectors, which were installed just a few years ago to great consternation, the bomb-sniffing dogs, the police with their service weapons, and tons of security cameras have been enough.

So far at Target Field, there are no cops with assault rifles.

  • >>Jason Hernandez of Whitefish Bay said this reminds him of the police you see in Europe.<<

    Uh, not really.

    He's probably thinking about military soldiers who are posted on extremely high profile targets The Eiffel Tower and Louvre for example.

    • jon

      There is an interesting thing when people travel abroad… they go places they wouldn’t normally go, and see things they wouldn’t normally see, and they attribute those things not to them being outside of their normal (milwaukee) but to it being europe, or thailand, or where ever.

      For example, my brother spent some time in germany in high school… he came back and told me how text messages are called “SMS” in germany… he told me I was a liar then I pointed out they are called that here too, I showed him my phone, which had them labeled as “SMS” He had no cell phone at the time, and he didn’t know that it wasn’t some crazy name in germany but the actual messaging protocol which beared the name.

      if you fly into europe you land in a major city, you see the sights, and you confuse major city with all of Europe…

      Point and case, union station in chicago, the security folks carry mp5’s (at least). No need to go to europe to see a heavily armed guard…

      • Exactly.

        /FWIW – Union Station can be deemed a “high-profile target”. I’ll have to pay closer attention to the security personnel the next time I’m there.

    • Jerry

      I definitely remember security people (I can’t tell you if they were cops or not) carrying sub-machine guns in Italy back in ’95. Some at tourist sights and some at places like banks. But some were just stationed on street corners. Made me glad I lived someplace where we didn’t think that was necessary. We apparently have gotten a lot more scared since then.

      • There seems to have been a spike in terrorist attacks in Western Europe in the mid-1990’s which may account for some of the extra security.

        I honestly only saw heavily armed guards at the most high-profile sights when traveling in Europe.

        It’s possible that I’m not really paying attention to security forces and how they are equipped.

        • Jerry

          In Italy I assumed it was a combination of Red Guard and Mafia fears. The Ufizzi was bombed by the mafia in ’93. I noticed the weapons because I was a Tom Clancy obsessed 18 year old at the time (I got better.)

      • Jeff

        One data point, I was in Naples a couple months ago and saw no heavily armed guards at any of the tourist attractions or more importantly guarding the pizzerias.

  • Matt Black

    I stopped going to MLB games when they put the metal detectors in. I stopped going to Saints games last year after they added the wands. It’s theatre that doesn’t really provide value. I hate the “sign of the times” or “this will be common place in a few years” arguments too. That’s lazy.

    I wish more people would push back against these things. It shouldn’t be common place to have police roaming around with machine guns. We have a serious problem we need to address if we think that’s the case.

    • As near as I can tell, we’ve saved a lot of fans from the terrorism other fan’s knee and hip replacements.

      • Gary F

        And if something happens in Bob’s section. They will feel the wrath of Bob’s 70MPH fastball right to the head.

        • Faster than I can throw one…then again, I bet he’ll already have given away all his baseballs to kids.

    • Ralphy

      Not to mention national monuments.
      I was part of an escort/aid team for a tour group of about 125 WW2 vets a few years after 9-11. Everyone of them was in combat in the Pacific. The majority were using walkers or in chairs. The tour bus stopped to visit a site that commemorates vets. The itinerary allowed for about 2 hours. The dotards running security at the monument/Museum wanted everyone to go through a TSA scale security search – belts, shoes, wands, bag inspections and pat downs. It would have taken 2 hours just to get these men processed. A total SNAFU, to use a military term.

  • KariBemidji

    I’ve seen an assault rifle once in my life. We flew to Massachusetts two months after 9/11 and the National Guard were still patrolling the airports. I thought it was appropriate then and still do – our country had been attacked and we didn’t know when or if it would happen again.

    But baseball parks? Creating a heightened sense of fear will make it easier to give up our civil liberties and ideals that make our country worth defending.

    • Postal Customer

      Hey why not? It goes along with all the jingoistic activities we now do at ball games. We were at a Miller Park game during Memorial Day weekend. The New York Mets’ jerseys had no blue, only white and green, because it was military worship appreciation weekend.

    • Mike Worcester

      I am sitting in the Normandy region of France right now (long story) but at the DeGaulle aeroport you definitely seen full-fledged French army — not their version of the Nat’l Guard — patrolling with assault rifles. And I expected to see that. But agreed, at a baseball game? Unless there was some sort of credible threat, maybe. Otherwise that seems like only so much security theatre.

    • MikeB

      “Creating a heightened sense of fear will make it easier to give up our civil liberties and ideals that make our country worth defending.”

      We have kids in internment camps. With barcodes. We’ve already given up so much.

      • KariBemidji

        I agree. We are definitely not great and not heading there either.

  • Wayne

    A question that isn’t often asked is “what do you do with that thing when you need to use your hands?”
    As someone who’s carried one, my take is that a sling is really only useful for standing around or having it at at the ready for when you need to use it.
    For just about anything else that requires any sort of movement it just gets in the way. You really shouldn’t put it down for any number of reasons, and you better hope the safety is on if you’re wrestling with someone or if it’s banging around on your back while you’re running.

    • jon

      Do you really think some one with a gun like that slung in front of them is going to bother wrestling with some one?

      Or using any level of force less than lethal?

      • Wayne

        Right. His usefulness as a police officer has just diminished drastically. He can’t respond to anything that doesn’t require shooting or just standing there without worrying about having to secure that thing.

        He might as well be perched on top of the hot dog stand.

        The sling, however, does make for a decent arm rest.

        • jon

          Gary already pointed the challenges with having him near a hot dog stand…

    • Jeff

      It’s all about making you think you’re safe. Don’t over-analyze.

      Security Theater At the Ballpark!

      • “Security theater” – I use that term for the TSA.

        • boB from WA

          TSA – Theatre Securitie Agencie (or actors)

  • Gary F

    Lots of folk always say they want to be more like Europe. So there you go.

    This makes the cop look more unapproachable. Stupid if you ask me. How will the cops handle the fainting person from heat stroke or fallen stepping off the curb or petty crime that happens around the stadium.

    They are already equipped with semi auto pistols and multiple magazines, and the bad people know it. Way over the top.

    It doesn’t make me feel any safer, heck probably less safe, because the cop becomes more immobile.

    During the Stupid Bowl festivities on the Nicollet Mall, I was talking to a Mpls cop in tactical gear. I asked him he was carrying an auto or semi-auto, he said semi-auto, he said more and more cops want to carry a semi-auto because they have better control if they ever have to use it and don’t feel it compromises their effectiveness

    • >>a semi-auto because they have better control if they ever have to use it and don’t feel it compromises their effectiveness<<

      And he is 100% correct.

    • Jerry

      They’d be better off equipped with Garands. Those at least can be used to subdue someone non-lethally.

    • Ralphy

      And I avoided the “festivities” precisely because of all the weaponry. If the event was such high risk that a show of force to that degree was deemed prudent, then the event must be such high risk that it would be prudent to stay away.
      I work in an office building between 5th and 6th on Nicollet. Counted 32 well armed, uniformed security from my office door to the train station.

  • Jerry

    I can see no problem with the combination of high capacity automatic weapons and large crowds. It’s not like cops accidently shoot bystanders or each other with their lower capacity semi-auto handguns all the time.

    Oh wait, they do.

    • Ralphy

      A friend of mine drew that duty at MSP. They only had the gun. No ammo. It was all for show, to calm nervous passengers.

      • My son freaked when he saw those and couldn’t get on the plane. So we sent him back home, missing my dad’s memorial service.

      • jon

        My father tells me this was pretty common practice when he was in the military… he’d be given a gun, and no ammo for guard duty… or he’d be given at most one bullet, and not be allowed to load that bullet into the gun…

        It was unclear if he was supposed to throw the bullet at people, or wave it around menacingly in one hand, while doing the same with the gun in the other…

        • Jerry

          Barney Fife Rule?

          Something like that happens in the series Band of Brothers, where a soldier who hated Germans was given a limited ammunition supply when he was guarding POWs.

  • Gary F

    And the mustard leaking from the cops brat right into the breech of the gun. It won’t affect the gun’s performance, but you’ll have to clean it after your shift.

    • …not to mention the ‘kraut.


    • Jeff
      • Gary F

        Where can you buy that in the Twin Cities. We used to buy that years ago. We thought it went away when Jacobs Field was built.

        • Jeff

          I have to order it online. The manufacturer has the best price and free shipping, but you have to buy a case . However it makes a fabulous gift or stocking stuffer. People are speechless when you give them a bottle of mustard.

          Bob should keep some handy in case of a mustard emergency at the ballpark.

          • Gary F

            I’ll check Cecil’s on Cleveland Ave first. They have the largest mustard offering in town to the best of my knowledge. Not sure if I need a case. But then my nieces would be delighted to get mustard as a gift, right?

          • Jeff

            It’s $44/case 16 oz size. I noticed though if you want a single bottle of Chief Wahoo branded it’s $9.99 on Amazon. So quite a savings by the case. I don’t know Cecil’s, if you find it please let me know.

            Bertman’s is a fine gift for any occasion and it shows off your refinement and fine taste. The squeals of joy will be well worth it.

  • merry_rose

    I really don’t like this trend of “militarization” of the police. When we as citizens are seen as enemies, the way opponents in a war are seen, the police then act as if people in and from the community are enemies. It’s hard to tell our children that police officers are community helpers when they’re decked out like soldiers on patrol. Being kitted out like a soldier changes the mindset, both for them and us.

  • The Resistance

    These types of actions are the early signs of impending authoritarianism.

    Sadly, most of the power of authoritarianism is given up by citizens with a shrug. Anticipatory obedience teaches those in power, and wanting to consolidate power, what’s possible and where the current societal limits are.

    If you aren’t in regular contact with your congressperson (and in this case, the Brewers and MLB) to express your opposition to having M4 armed police in your publicly funded stadium, you’re giving the government, and MLB, the express (un)written consent to take away a bit of your freedom in this little bubble of American innocence in a Milwaukee ballpark.

    And the domino effect begins.

  • AmiSchwab

    cops and border guards in europe carry mgs and have for many years.
    european cops and border guards are also much better trained than american cops and rarely shoot people. a huuuge difference


    I’ve been to Brazil and Mexico several times, as well as parts of Germany (where airports/train stations had heavy security). The presence of serious heat in our public spaces is nothing compared to many of the areas in those countries … so it’ll be a while before I’m truly shocked by 1-2 cops holding M16s.

    I’m not a fan of the increasing militarization of our police, but I’d rather see a trained person in uniform walking with an assault weapon than one of those open-carry idiots.

    If I’m missing something here, let me know … but I think there are so many other civil liberties getting rolled back. I don’t feel like this is a hill to die on.

  • Brian Simon

    Did something happen at Miller Park that the cops couldn’t resolve without assault rifles?

  • Rob

    Machine guns? Meh. The cops should be equipped with flamethrowers, like the ones Elon Musk is selling to the public…