Sunday, 30 August 2009

I Don't Think These Are The 'Dum Dums' We Need To Worry About...

From Friday's 'Metro':
There are fears that police could increase the use of controversial 'dum dum' bullets amid claims their present ammunition is too powerful.

Traditional bullets may be 'over-penetrating' suspects and endangering innocent bystanders, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
So, is this a realistic proposal then?

Well, there's no doubt that the bullets fired at a manic depressive threatening an armed police team with a gun did 'over penetrate' the target:
The warning came in a report in the wake of the police shooting of David Sycamore outside Guilford Cathedral in November. Mr Sycamore was shot and killed with Heckler and Koch G36 rifles and hard shell bullets when he went to the cathedral armed with a replica gun and refused to put it down.

One of the two bullets which hit him then 'went through a window, hit a wall, went through another window and came to rest within the cathedral'.

The second bullet struck the cathedral wall after travelling through Mr Sycamore's body.
One would hope that the police knew their bullets would travel through the body, and only fired when they had a clear shot with no danger of any bystanders in the area.

That would be SOP, wouldn't it?

But anyway, as a result of this report, are the police going to start using different ammo?

No:
The IPCC wrote to the Association of Chief Police Officers shortly after the shooting to highlight the dangers, saying: 'It may be only a matter of time before a stray bullet kills or seriously injures an innocent person.'

But Met Police Authority member Jenny Jones said dum dum (or hollow point bullets) were 'not the way forward'.

'I am very worried about any moves towards increasing the use of dum dum bullets,' she added.

Dum dum bullets are made of soft metal and expand to more than twice their diameter on entering the body.
So, no story then? So why the screaming headlines?

10 comments:

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

If Ms Jones is of the opinion that police have enough Dum Dums already, who are we to disagree?

sobers said...

Dum-dum bullets are banned in international conflicts under the Hague Convention of 1899.

They are still legal for law enforcement however. So our ever merciful govt can shoot us with them, but not foreigners. How thoughtful!

davidncl said...

Low call, hi-velocity jacketed rounds (as used in assualt rifles, by soldiers) cause more tissue trauma han slower, heavier hollow point or squash heads.

Cries of "Dum Dum bullets" are just hysteria - and hysteria from world war one at that.

The cops shouln't be using millitary weapons on our streets.

joe said...

Given we're taking about a public safety issue the use of high velocity penetrating military type rounds in a civilian/city context is plainly unsafe.

Use of a larger calibre lower velocity round (think colt .45) would produce knock down with significant reduction in penetration risk as would replacing jacketed rounds with soft points or other types of ammunition specifically designed to inflict shock without undue penetration.

However SMT's in the force (sorry service) are probably more scared of the "perception" they are using "dum dum" bullets than they are concerned about effective firearms utilisation. They have a track record in this - sending police officers to deal with rioting miners in "wooden tops" rather than proper helmets - untill the head injuries suffered changed this; not issuing body armour until lots of coppers had been needlessly shot or stabbed; rejecting sensible kit because it looks "too militaristic" - so officers cary lots of stuff on their belt - and surprise, surprise get back problems; requiring armed officers to carry their wepons covertly - thus making them more inaccesible in an emergency etc/ etc.

David Gillies said...

A G36 uses the 5.56×45 NATO cartridge (.223 Remington for all but academic purposes). This is a very high-velocity, fairly low-calibre round. For shooting skinnies in the face at 300m it's questionable (see Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down). For shooting pissed-up Scallies with a chair leg in a carrier bag it's grotesquely mis-matched. It doesn't dump enough energy in the target to promptly incapacitate, and it has a distressingly high propensity to go bowling along and rip the face off poor old Helen Jones hanging out her washing half a mile way.

You're going to get shoot-through with assault- or battle-rifle cartridges at typical engagement ranges under law enforcement situations. Unless you need precision shooting at long range (e.g. counter-sniper at >200m) then the best thing is a carbine chambered with a big pistol round, like .44 special. And you need rounds that deform and stop in the shootee, the vapid moanings of the bien-pensant notwithstanding.

All of this, of course, is a hostage to fortune. It pre-supposes that in a police shooting, the Plod are the good guys. I don't really like the cops. I prefer them to be under-gunned.

James Higham said...

I didn't know they actually went through the body. Can kill jsut as much as a knife, then?

Anonymous said...

Wot a load of horse shit
love william

JuliaM said...

"If Ms Jones is of the opinion that police have enough Dum Dums already, who are we to disagree?"

Heh..!

"Cries of "Dum Dum bullets" are just hysteria"

Yes. Which made me wonder why the 'Metro' made such a song and dance. But then, I remembered what sold newspapers. Even free ones...

"However SMT's in the force (sorry service) are probably more scared of the "perception" they are using "dum dum" bullets than they are concerned about effective firearms utilisation."

Which is a worry. No guarantee the next nutcase determined to go out via suicide by cop is going to be standing in front of a nice, dense, empty stone building...

"And you need rounds that deform and stop in the shootee, the vapid moanings of the bien-pensant notwithstanding."

Don't the Air Marshalls carry such rounds for use on airplanes?

You'd think the average 'man in the street' would be able to do the maths, and think 'Hmm, maybe not such a bad idea at ground level, too'...

"I didn't know they actually went through the body."

I haven't seen any other reports into police shootings mention this.

madne0 said...

The weapon used in the case described was a G36, a military rifle, with a military grade round. I have a tough time believing the average UK cop has ever even looked at one, much less fired one at a criminal.
Why all the fuss?

David Gillies said...

Sadly, several UK police units (e.g. Gatwick cops, CO19) do indeed use the G36, often in the K (Kurz) or C (compact) variants. This is going to give you muzzle velocities in the 850 - 900+ m/s range, which with ball ammunition is just crazy. A 5.56mm round can go through a car door at 600m, no worries. Paradoxically, the shorter barrel lengths in these carbine-type weapons exacerbate the problem of shoot-through, since at short engagement ranges, the bullet does not yaw sufficiently on contact with tissue, which is one of the primary wound-generating mechanisms that the tail-heavy 5.56 round was meant to possess. US experience in Iraq and Afghanistan with the M4 + ball ammo has led to research into alternative rifles and chamberings.

Julia, air marshals go one better and use 'frangible' ammunition which is designed to break up on contact with anything hard. The rounds are of questionable utility outside confined spaces and are readily defeated by even light body armour.