Why do cops use hollow-point bullets?

Hollow-point bullets before and after hitting their targets.

A Board of Supervisors committee will tomorrow (Thu/21) consider a pair of proposals to regulate the sale of ammunition in San Francisco. And while the legislation is all but certain to pass – gun control is always popular in San Francisco, even when it has minimal impact – one of the measures raises some interesting questions about our understanding of the purpose of deadly weapons.

Sponsoring Sup. Malia Cohen and Mayor Ed Lee held a press conference in December, shortly after the horrific shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, announcing proposals to require notification of the San Francisco Police Department when someone buys 500 round or more of ammunition and banning “the possession or sale of law enforcement or military ammunition.”

The latter measure concerns the sale of hollow-point bullets that are designed to expand after entering the bodies of their targets, which General Hospital Dr. Andre Campbell told those assembled at the press conference “create absolute devastation in the victims. When they strike a victim it's like a bomb going off.”

So why do we let police officers use them? After all, while officers are instructed to shoot-to-kill when firing their guns, do we really need to make extra sure that those hit by police bullets die? I'm sure the families of the long list of people shot by police who are at most guilty of less than a capital offense -- let alone innocent victims of overexuberant policing -- might disagree with that approach.

Well, one reason that law enforcement sources cite for their use of hollow-point bullets is that they tend to stay in their targets, thereby reducing collateral damage from bullets exiting a victim and hitting someone else. Fine, but doesn't that same logic also apply to criminals shooting at rivals in the street? Isn't it better for their intended target to suffer more damage if it might save other innocent bystanders?

Incidentally, the use of hollow-point bullets was once recognized as a war crime, banned under the Hague Convention of 1899, precisely because of the extra damage they inflicted on human bodies. But now, San Francisco seeks to protect them for cops but ban them for citizens, which certainly seems to violate the spirit of the Second Amendment and intent of allowed an armed citizenry to stand against police state tyranny.

The board's City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee takes up the measure starting 10am in City Hall Room 263.


Are you suggesting that all men are not pigs?

Posted by marcos on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:06 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

after having been educated as to why such spoutings are a mistake.

I do think I understand the problem though.

The problem is that, similar to a racist who's offended by the topic of racism, your male-dominant world-view finds Dworkin's clear-eyed -- though not necessarily well-written -- analysis of the inherently un-equal societal memes surrounding sex to be offensive.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

Better start over.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

How did Eric Cartman like to put it: "Sounds like someone has sand in their vagina."

Posted by marcos on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:41 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

Oooh, haven't heard a "fascist pig" reference since college.
Thanks for the nostalgic, sentimental blowback.

That's good, 4 years at colleage and you learned sarcasm. Nice to see that your time there wasn't wasted.

Posted by Guest Mike on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 4:14 am

You're puzzled because your assumptions are wrong
I assume that most people shot by cops are not shooting at cops. Some of them are running away, or brandishing a wallet, or driving from a wedding, or acting weird because they're off their meds, or delivering newspapers in a truck that looks vaguely (but not really) like the truck of someone the cops are looking to kill... or maybe just lying face down on the ground in handcuffs until some pig decides to shoot them execution style.

I'm guessing most people shot by cops don't even have a gun on them, let alone firing it at the cops.

Great post Greg, I was about to say something similar.
This isn't about attacking Cops. The vast majority of them do a great job for not a lot of thanks or reward, but they can still make mistakes.
People need to get rid of the mindset that everytime the police shoot someone, that person was automatically doing something wrong.
There's nothing wrong with a healthy degree of cynicism.
Open your minds and start to question things. Think for yourselves and don't let yourselves be dictated to.

Posted by Guest Mike on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 3:47 am

Attempted murder is not a capital crime, maximum is life with parole.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

If you wave a gun around while dealing with the cops and you get yourself all killed, who cares?

Posted by matlock on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

Gawd yall niggas cant even spell, its Capitol not Capital SMH

Posted by Guest on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

Depends on the state.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2013 @ 3:34 am

I'm not even sure if attempted murder is a capital crime... murder itself is. That even being said, this isn't Judge Dredd, a police officer is not a legal executioner, if he is capable of subduing a perpetrator without lethal force he must, and if he uses lethal force he damn well better justify it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

Thanks for posing the questions I don't see being asked anywhere. And interesting history about the war crime angle. What progress, eh?

I will say this though... this double standard is why I'm not entirely comfortable with gun control in general. I think there should be reasonable regulations on guns, but those regulations should extend to the police as well. I wouldn't mind a British model where it's difficult for citizens to obtain guns, but the police don't carry them either. I think we'd see the same results if we did that -very few murders and almost no shootings by cops. But we don't. We have a police force that acts like an occupying army in many urban communities, even as we unilaterally disarm the citizenry.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

here, and invariably take the side of the criminals.

So why would anyone here take your comments seriously?

We should want the cops to be have more firepower than the thugs. Is that really so hard for you to fathom?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 6:46 am

So you engage in ad hominem attacks.

See, the problem is, Guest, that all too often the cops are no different than the thugs. See the cases I alluded to above, and a quick google search reveals multitude of others.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 8:40 am

I must have read 100 posts by you on the subject of cops, and you have a 100% consistent record of criticizing them. So you can hardly then complain when people discount your views on this subject, because you have not demonstrated one scintilla of objectivity on the subject.

You don't like cops. We get that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 10:12 am

I actually agree with Greg on this one (but probably for different reasons). Over-penetration is a very real problem (cop or gang banger). If I live in an apartment next to a guy who owns a pistol, I'd want him to have frangible bullets. So why keep them out of the hands of the ordinary law-abiding citizen.

Oh and Greg, your hatred of police is pretty clear to anyone who has read your posts in regards to any article on this site that deals with law enforcement.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

going to abide by any rules or laws we pass anyway, and will use whatever guns and ammo they can get their hands on regardless.

Given that, why condemn our cops to be disadvantaged on the streets?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

who could get by without the cops.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

who could get by without the likes of me.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

I've gone to work meetings where I have had to listen to "progressives" bemoan the lack of "respect" they receive at work, while all they do otherwise is whine about how they receive no respect. "you people don't respect me,"... although all I do is whine about my persecution fantasy's. This is always couched in new speak buzz words that they don't really understand nor can pronounce correctly.

Life without so called ACLU constitutionalists like Greg who pick their way through the constitution like Robert Bork conservatives would be mildly less comical.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:34 pm

Cops, like the military, are the heavy handed tools government uses to keep the little people in line. There's a reason both groups account for close to 50% of all government budgets since they perform the services most desired by politicians - bashing the heads of the people who dare criticize and challenge government power.

For most of the crimes people care about preventing - murder, robbery, rape, burglary, assault - the cops are worthless since these crimes are very difficult to prevent (with humans being human), and the crimes often don't need much investigation since the victims (or their kin/friends) often report the crimes and the perpetrators are often known to the victim.

And since cops are rarely hired if their IQ is over 100, they are entirely worthless for investigating or solving complex financial frauds, which is just how Wall Street and the politicians like it.

The "law and order" crowd is much like the religious crowd - pander to the least educated and least intelligent and prey upon their fears by telling them only more support for religion and more support for "law and order" will make their lives safer.

The joke is on us since the unfunded debts to pay for "public safety" work conducted years ago will be paid by children and grandchildren, keeping the perpetual horrid system in place for many more generations.

Until communities adopt volunteer policing and other public safety services and fire all of the current rent-a-cops and rent-a-fireman, we're left with them for the time being. Of course when people are eventually asked to step up to learn how to conduct policing and fire-fighting on their own, the current rent-a-cops will not be the ones to volunteer to serve the community, but will be home sitting on their asses collecting $100,000 a year to do nothing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

I doubt cops in 2013 spend more than 1% of their time worrying themselves over thought crimes.

Mirkarimi was a graduate of the police academy and a DA investigator supposedly around fraud, so I agree they are usually too stupid to be of any good to anyone in the area of white color crime.

I do agree that the constant howl of "more cops" doesn't work, but there is a golden ratio curve to cops and crime. Oakland's progressive leadership and hand full of cops has lead to higher crime.

There is probably a bell curve relationship to cops and crime. zero cops per 1000 citizen leads to high crime, while the pay-off of 1000 cops to 1000 citizens has a low pay off tax wise.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

Thugs use fully automatic illegally purchased firearms or black market pistols . GET IT?? You take away our Semi autos and the good citizens have nothing left to protect themselves but a Tyrant and Overbearing Gang Members called the Police.

Police average response time in my local community is 10-15 minutes. It only takes less than a second for a "thug" to squeeze that trigger.

Posted by FightBackAgainstSociety on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 11:26 am

Greg, you have never once posted anything supportive of cops
here, and invariably take the side of the criminals.

So why would anyone here take your comments seriously?

We should want the cops to be have more firepower than the thugs. Is that really so hard for you to fathom?

How about no one having any firepower. Is that so hard for you to fathom?

Posted by Guest Mike on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 4:17 am

You are a cop- do you want to carry bullets that will do the best job of putting a threat down and allow you to go home at night- plus reduce the possibility of collateral damage- or do you want to carry bullets that are not as effective and have the added bonus of going through walls etc.

Posted by Whackamole on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:14 am

I understand why cops want them, and I even explained the public safety logic behind it, which makes some sense. But that same logic applies whether the shooter is a cop or a criminal, right? The bullets don't care who fires them, and the bystanders hit by them suffer the same injuries either way. I just think we need to ask these sorts of questions before approving policies that may have unintended consequences.

Posted by steven on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 10:57 am
Posted by anon on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 11:14 am

Most of the folks who allege that I've never said one good word about cops, have themselves never said one critical thing about cops. So if you're going to discount my views on that basis, your views should be discounted on the basis that you guys are just knee-jerk law enforcement accolytes. But I have a better idea -how 'bout just evaluate each argument on the merits.

Truth is I take a pretty realistic view of cops. I never said most cops who shoot someone are just out to kill someone. Go back and re-read -you won't find that anywhere. I do have a hunch that matlock's statement that most people getting shot by cops were shooting at them is incorrect. The amount of police shootings of completely innocent people (to say nothing of people who may have been committing a crime but were unarmed and not shooting anyone) is just too great. So far, I've thought of more real life examples off the top of my head than all you trolls could come up with searching the net. Hint: a quick net search reveals many more police shootings of unarmed people. I tried to do a quick search for a case I heard about where an unarmed 68-year old was shot answering the door, and I came up with multitudes of cases I hadn't even heard about.

Are cops all bad? No. But I don't think they're more trustworthy than anyone else. Maybe less. Why? Because a job where people are given the power to kill and given near unlimited authority to bully the average citizen sometimes attracts... well... people who are sadistic and like to bully the average citizen. I mean... duh. If you are of that mindset to begin with, you're probably not going to go into nursing or accounting or something! Add to that tendency, the fact that courts and politicians give unlimited deference to cops.... and the blue wall of silence that prevents good cops from turning in their not-so-good brothers, and you get a pretty toxic combination. But even if you think they're all angels, I think the principle that no organization can police itself is a sound one. Are *most* of them good? Who knows. If you want an educated guess, you can read Norm Stamper's book "Breaking Rank." As a 30-year veteran he knows more about this than I do. Hint: it's not just a few bad apples.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

feel any support for those who rely on the cops to protect what they do have to lose.

Anyone who supports criminals more than cops is suspect. A clear statement by you that you disagree with that would go a long way to deflect the otherwise inevitable criticism of your bias.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

As Slant Hannity might say: "You're a great American!"


The fact is that those critical of cop powers are not "supporting criminals" nearly so much as they are supporting non-cops. (That would be... most of us.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

Is that clear enough?

Now can you formulate an argument that's not based on ad hominem attacks but rather based on substance?

Posted by Greg on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 3:41 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

The concern is that criminals are shooting innocent people, isn't it? In that case, you want it so that they're more likely to survive. That benefit is relatively greater than the risk of collateral damage.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

It's a balancing act, really. I don't think someone can really make a moral argument that cops should use extra deadly bullets, particularly when they're shooting people who haven't committed a capital crime or aren't about to. That's why we have a court system, to weigh evidence and mete out punishment, rather than relying on summary executions by cops in the streets. Bullets should be effective enough to deter the immediate threat and allow for an arrest, and most bullets will fit that bill. The only good argument I see for letting cops use hollow-point bullets is reduction of collateral damage, as I wrote, and I think that argument also applies the criminals as well. Innocent people get shot by both cops and criminals, the issue is the certainty of death when that happens.

Posted by steven on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 11:05 am

Don't criminals and foreign invaders recognize this attempt at civility for what it is and act accordingly?

Posted by N. O. Amnesty on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

If Gun and ammo Manufactures want to stay in business they should immediately stop all sales of Guns and Ammo to Government until the Gun Ban issues are resolved.

Also Using Hollow Points is just another example of Police Brutality. These bullets have been considered inhumane since the 1800's. They are against international law in war, as WMD. and banned by the Geneva Conventions. Yet, our Government sees fit to use them against Civilians. Jack-Booted Thugs.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

Back in the mid-Seventies I did an internship with the ACLU and one of the projects I was assigned was to do a study on the use of hollow-point bullets by the police. While it is easy to get all self-righteous about how deadly these bullets are, the issue is a lot more complex than it first appears.

First off, ideally, the police should only fire their weapon when they, or someone else, is in imminent danger of serious harm or death. Under those circumstances the primary purpose is to stop the threat. Hollow-point bullets, in police jargon, have greater stopping power.

Second, as someone else pointed out, they do not tend to go through walls. They also do not go through people, nor do they tend to ricochet. In fact, one of the primary design considerations of military ammunition is to increase the likelihood of a ricochet, with th hopes of hitting as many targets with one shoot as possible.

In an ideal world, police would only fire their guns rarely. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world.

Posted by JUsher on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 10:34 am

some ammo manufacturers may decide not to sell such ammo to government law enforcment, that ban citizens owning the same ammo.

Do the politicians who promote gun control for us, carry concealed weapons and /or have armed bodyguards?

Let us get the same concealed weapons permits that the politicians, celebrities, wealthy oligarchs get.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:05 am

The line (lie?) about hollow point bullets being 'like a bomb going off' is complete nonsense. It's hard to take anything else written by someone who would repeat such drivel seriously.

Police use hollow point bullets because they're what works the best.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

means of stopping a bad guy and then saying that they have to use ammo that is less effective at doing just that.

If it saves the live of just one cop, it's worth giving them the best ammo that we can. And "best" means stopping power.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

Greg, please never call 911 for help...You clearly can take care of yourself. That way the police can help people that really need it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:11 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 6:09 am

It would be cool to make some kind of bullet that paralyzes a criminal temporarily or something. It wouldnt be great for situations where youd have to penetrate some material to hit the target, though. It would be cool if noone died and criminals survived to do their time miserably

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 4:17 am

“. . . and banning “the possession or sale of law enforcement or military ammunition.”

Law enforcement uses hollow-point ammo.

The military is required, by treaties, to use ball, or solid tipped ammo.

So, in effect, the San Fran ordinance will ban all ammo for civilians.

Posted by dave on Aug. 05, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

Lobby for increased availability and decreased cost of the Glazer Safety Slug. Until THAT happens may I suggest you sissies step off my constitutional and moral right to protect myself, my family, my friends and my community with whatever legal ammunition I choose. I intend to do precisely that. May God bless America. Being an American, Americanism and residing in America are all different and have NOTHING to do with where you are born.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

All of you shitheads nead to just keep your opinions to yourself and quit fucking arguing

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

Oh ya fuck that pussy

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

Oh get owned

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 8:07 pm