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ASU plans to return M-16s obtained under military surplus program

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PHOENIX – Arizona State University plans to return 70 M-16s obtained a year and a half ago under a Department of Defense program that distributes surplus weapons to law enforcement agencies, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Julie Newberg said in an email the weapons will be replaced with standard, newer rifles that could be used to confront an “active shooter.”

“The rifles will be replaced since they were out of date and some were in disrepair,” Newberg said in an email.

Newberg’s email didn’t specify what type of weapons would replace the M-16s or when that would happen.

The announcement came a week and a half after a spokesman for ASU police told Cronkite News the department obtained the assault rifles for worst-case scenarios such as a shooter on campus.

“We definitely look for ways to equip our officers the best way to be able to actively take care of a situation that comes up,” Sgt. Daniel Macias said at the time.

Macias said the M-16s were castoffs from the Arizona Department of Public Safety and that the ASU police wanted to have one for each member of its force.

Macias told Cronkite News the weapons had not been distributed to officers and that they remained in the department’s armory. The department required that officers complete 40 hours of training to carry the M-16s, and officers hadn’t had enough time to complete the training, he said.

Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said she was happy to hear the weapons are going to be returned.

“That sort of large cache of military weapons has no place on college campuses,” she said. “These types of weapons are intended for combat, and not to protect community.”

However, Soler said she was concerned to hear the M-16s are going to be replaced.

“If they’re replacing them with other assault weapons, that’s problematic,” she said.

Arizona Western College in Yuma obtained nine M-16s that the head of the school’s police department said would use to ensure campus safety. Pima Community College received nine M-14s that a school official said are used for an honor guard.