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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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston

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, BigJournalsim.com and all Breitbart News' other sites, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, and many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs across the country to discuss his opinion editorials and current events as well as appearing on TV networks such as CNN, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and various Chicago-based news programs. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the 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 and follow him on Twitter, on Google Plus , and Facebook.

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