Two anti-tank rocket launchers found dumped in a bin near a US school

Two rocket launchers and a non-explosive practice grenade were found in a bin less than a mile from a school in California earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Perris Station deputies were called to an address on Leon Road, Winchester, after reports of the military hardware being spotted in a dumpster a short distance from Liberty High School.

Inside the dumpster police found two empty, disposable single shot AT4 anti-tank launchers and one inert practice grenade that had been cut in half.

"Although the launcher tubes are illegal to possess, they were not a safety hazard and there was no threat to the community," a police department spokesperson told NPR. "This incident was not an unusual occurrence, as we routinely find and seize inert military ordinance.”

As yet, police have been unable to determine who might have dumped the deadly devices.

The AT4 is a light, easily portable disposable, single-shot unguided launcher. It’s been described as a “basic but deadly anti-tank weapon” although its 84mm round would be unlikely to penetrate the armour of a main battle tank.

However a single shot from the AT4 would be enough to cripple most armoured personnel carriers, as well as making a sizeable dent in enemy bunkers and defensive emplacements.

New US Army recruits often learn to operate the disposable Swedish-made launcher early in their training.

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The simple, idiot-proof design makes it ideal for inexperienced troops and 6,000 AT4s have recently been shipped to Ukraine where they are likely to be issued to reserve territorial defence units who have minimal training.

Under US law, because it’s classed as a firearm, the AT4 is technically legal to own with proper registration.

However because rocket launchers and bazookas are considered "destructive devices” they are illegal in some states, including California.

Penalties for breaking that law — whether treated as a misdemeanour or felony — would vary depending on the specific circumstances and owner’s criminal history.

If classed as a misdemeanour, the crime would carry a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. As a felony, perpetrators could face up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

However, legal arguments can be made if there is a permit for the weapon.

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