In what looks like a "straw deal," Blackwater financed the purchase of 17 AK-47 rifles and 17 Bushmaster XM15 E2S rifles for the sheriff in the country where the company's headquarters is located and gave the sheriff "unlimited access to those rifles for training and qualification, and state of emergency use" -- but stored the weapons in Blackwater's own armory.
What could a sleepy North Carolina town, with a population under 10,000, need with a cache of 34 automatic weapons for its 19 deputies?
Sheriff Tony Perry says it's because the country was setting up a SWAT team at the time of the deal.
But according to the Raleigh News Observer, this excuse falls short:
The AK-47 would be a poor choice of weapon for a SWAT team, said John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, the national organization of SWAT officers.
As a combat weapon, the AK-47 is too large and powerful for SWAT teams, Gnagey said. It is rugged but relatively inaccurate.
"And there's the perception problem," Gnagey said. "Every terrorist attacking the U.S. is armed with AK-47s."
Most SWAT teams use the H&K MP5 submachine gun or the Bushmaster M4, he said.
Under federal law, private entities are not allowed to buy or keep automatic weapons, and it is illegal for anyone to receive or possess an automatic weapon that isn't registered to that person. According the the New Observer, all 34 automatic weapons are registered to the sheriff's office, and the AK-47s and five Bushmasters are stored at Blackwater. Twelve of the Bushmasters are currently assigned to Camden deputies.
Blackwater CEO Gary Jackson, denied breaking any federal law:
Jackson and Erik Prince, Blackwater's owner, said Blackwater used the AK-47s in training to familiarize police officers or members of the military with a foreign weapon that they might come across while making an arrest or on a battlefield.
It is not clear how this applies to the Camden police force, who have only seen two murders, three robberies, and seven reported rapes, in the last decade.