In the 1960s and 1970s, one of the most feared violent revolutionary groups was the Weathermen. It seemed that they had returned . . . and they are better armed. The National Weather Service has reportedly asked for 16,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets. Hollow points — or dum-dum bullets — are illegal under international law in war because they are designed to flattened upon impact and cause massive wounds to targets. Now a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said it is all a mistake. They are not armed weathermen . . . they are arming the Fisheries office personnel.
An additional 6,000 rounds of S&W JHP are to be sent to Wall, New Jersey and another 24,000 rounds to St. Petersburg, Florida. It is not clear why the National Weather Service — part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — needs this arsenal. However, it is following the lead of Homeland Security which purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets.
Here is the correction:
Due to a clerical error in the federal business vendor process, a solicitation for ammunition and targets for the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement mistakenly identified NOAA’s National Weather Service as the requesting office. The error is being fixed and will soon appear correctly in the electronic federal bidding system. The ammunition is standard issue for many law enforcement agencies and it will be used by 63 NOAA enforcement personnel in their firearms qualifications and training.
The question remains why hollow points are standard equipment for domestic federal law enforcement. The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibits the use of bullets which easily expand or flatten in the body. This is a provision governing the weapons used in “warfare.” Notably, England fought to keep dum dums legal in the Hague in 1899, but only one country supported it . . . the United States (which wanted to use them in the Philippines). The vote was 22-2.
The question is whether we should be using dum-dums domestically when they are illegal in warfare under international law. While illegal in England and states like New Jersey, they remain common in the United States. Thus, we cannot use them against Al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq but we can used them on a suspect in a fisheries office?