Dumb and Dum Dummer: NOAA Clarifies That It Is Not Buying Hollow Points For Weatherman . . . Just Fisheries Personnel

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?

64 thoughts on “Dumb and Dum Dummer: NOAA Clarifies That It Is Not Buying Hollow Points For Weatherman . . . Just Fisheries Personnel”

  1. The motivation given for the Geneva (?) convention given officer candidates was:
    The purpose of shooting is not to kill, but to cause a casualty who leaves the line of fire,and requires care.

    Don’t think tear gas is included, or otherwise why did we have to sit in a tent full of it for endless minutes after taking off our masks?

    The purpose of shooting a perp is another, I presume.

    Shoot one hand, diasabled that one. Shoot the other hand, then watch out for his karate kick. Shoot him in the belly, then call the meat wagon.
    and any next of kin, if known.

  2. Dennis,

    You are funny and address the most important point.

    How long has SSA had Special Agents. No fitness tests needed?
    Don’t believe the fat one could get off that many rounds to pass quarterly qualification, not even from a wheelchair.

    Keep everybpdy scared is the solution, in some eyes.

  3. And has anyone noticed that just in 2012 HP ammunition became once again legal for access for regular licensed person in state of NJ? No? It used to be crime to be found in possesion of even one round. It looks like some laws has changed starting 2012 and perhaps this is the reason. I am not discussing purpose of that ammo (just like I cannot get why one would want to have assault weapons home), but I am just noticing some coincidence.

  4. Dennis 1, August 20, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I retired from Social Security as a Disability Claims Specialist. I had very little opportunity to meet our “Special Agents.” So far as I know, they don’t roam very far from Regional Offices, and they only help prosecute people guilty of somes crimes that might incidently include SSA violations. Anytime I ever called OIG about a suspected fraud, somebody told me by phone how to conduct a fraud interview in the local office. Then they read my report and wrote a very convincing reply about why it wasn’t worth the government’s effort to prosecute. The three “Special Agents” I ever met were fat women who couldn’t grab their ass with both hands. They definitely didn’t match my expectations of a “Special Agent.” One was an English major, which probably helped with the afore-mentioned memos about not prosecuting.
    ==================
    Sounds like TIGTA. So-called Special Agents. Give me a break. There’s nothing special about them. The federal government special agents are wasted space.

  5. I worked for the NOAA-NMFS in the 1990’s. Now I know we had threats from fishermen from time to time because of the net ban, BUT we NEVER carried weapons even when the controversy was at its most intense. I was a Marine Biologist, and a female to boot, out ALONE on boats OVERNIGHT bearing the NOAA emblem in areas where there was known to be a fair amount of drug trade. (You see a boat running at night with no lights…it was a fair bet it was a drug boat). Not one person in our entire lab was armed. In fact, the only person who openly came to the lab armed was a disgruntled employee who wanted to shoot the place. No! No! No! Weapons were definitely NOT welcome at the Panama City National Marine Fisheries Laboratory while I was there. So yeah. I would like to know just what the heck is up with this “New Policy” of being armed and with freaking hollow points??? That is nuts! One or two of the people I worked with there back in the day I would not trust with a weapon as some liked their beer so much they would sometimes sneak a drink or two on the clock as we often worked for days straight (or for some of us it was common to have wine with our meals) and others were just too darned careless or clumsy! Yikes! What is going on and whose bright idea was this?

  6. I retired from Social Security as a Disability Claims Specialist. I had very little opportunity to meet our “Special Agents.” So far as I know, they don’t roam very far from Regional Offices, and they only help prosecute people guilty of somes crimes that might incidently include SSA violations. Anytime I ever called OIG about a suspected fraud, somebody told me by phone how to conduct a fraud interview in the local office. Then they read my report and wrote a very convincing reply about why it wasn’t worth the government’s effort to prosecute. The three “Special Agents” I ever met were fat women who couldn’t grab their ass with both hands. They definitely didn’t match my expectations of a “Special Agent.” One was an English major, which probably helped with the afore-mentioned memos about not prosecuting.

  7. Lots of bullets. You’re free to purchase your own. Is the SSA afraid of old people and invalids? Is granny going to try to shoot you?

  8. The SSA has posted the comments, and this rather thorough response:

    TheSSAOIG

    Regarding our training requirements, we must comply with those set forth in the Attorney General Guidelines for OIGs with Statutory Law Enforcement Authority. You can find those guidelines here: http://www.ignet.gov/pande/sta….

    One of these guidelines is mandatory quarterly firearms qualification, which is required of every Federal law enforcement agent to ensure agent and public safety. This critical training expends a considerable amount of ammunition. We have about 295 criminal investigators who must qualify with a firearm four times per year. If each investigator uses 150 rounds per qualification, then we would need 177,000 rounds per year. This number can vary based on the total number of agents, and any type of specialized training we might undertake.

    To answer some other comments, this is a routine procurement that we typically make every fiscal year. The exact amount purchased varies some from year to year. For example, we may purchase more ammunition in a given year given available funding, and then purchase less the following year. Generally speaking, though, the amount of ammunition we use every year has remained consistent since the mid-1990s, when our office was created after Social Security became an independent Federal agency.

    Finally, we certainly can’t speak to the type of ammunition the U.S. military uses. However, nearly every law enforcement agency—local, State, and Federal—uses hollow point ammunition, because it has been determined that it is most effective for law enforcement purposes. We purchase this type of ammunition for training because it is standard law enforcement practice to use the exact same type of ammunition during training as is used during the normal course of law enforcement duties.

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this important conversation. We encourage your feedback and questions.

  9. Yeah, they told me they’d review my comment before publishing it. I didn’t know SSA had agents, either. They weren’t covering it up, most media didn’t think much about it, apparently. Not sexy news, I guess.

  10. I don’t see a comment on there. Maybe it goes on a waiting list, until it can be reviewed to see if it’s inflammatory. They certainly didn’t want any comments they didn’t like, did they!!! I’m really wondering if they’ll publish any comments at all. They said they have 295 agents, so that would mean 596 each.

    I’m thinking that they’re asking people to send in what they think looks important (as I tend to do to some places at times). Most of these stories are not published in mainstream media.

    I certainly had no idea that the SSA had it’s own ”army!” I wonder if every federal agency does? I would have thought they would have used federal marshalls if they had needed any ”help” for things. I kind of thought that was what federal marshalls were for.

  11. The original source for the SSA’s explanation, not provided by CNSNews, is at
    http://oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/blog/2012/08/social-securitys-oig-responds-concerns-over-ammunition-procurement

    I decided I’d better find the original when I read the statement, “CNSNews.com relies on individuals like you to help us report the news the liberal media distort and ignore.”

    Call me eccentric, but I don’t swallow news from sources that use the phrase “the liberal media.”

    I just left a comment, asking whether an order of 174,000 is customary. You could ask, also.

  12. From feemeister’s link:

    “Prior to the blog being posted, CNSNews.com had asked the agency specific questions about its ammunition order. Although some of those questions were addressed by the information provided in the blog, the agency did not say why it needed 174,000 bullets and if that quantity was customary or had increased from previous orders.”

    And that is a very valid question.

  13. The legitimate reasons behind LE using hollow point ammo have already been explained, but regardless of that, you shouldn’t get too hung up on the fact that the Hague convention bans their use in warfare. The 5.56 mm NATO round that the M16 uses will tumble and shatter into pieces when it strikes a human target, creating massive cavitation of soft tissue and devastating wounds. We’re not dealing with clean through-and-through gunshots.

    So while it may sound superficially humane to ban hollow points, the bottom line is that getting shot by anything is nasty business, period.

  14. “The question is whether we should be using dum-dums domestically when they are illegal in warfare under international law.”

    There are other weapons that are allowed for domestic use but are illegal for use in war. Tear gas is a good example. We weren’t allowed to use it in Iraq because it’s a chemical weapon. It is allowed for use in controlling riots of POWs or in other specific situations, but can not be used in regular warfare.

    Hollow points are quite often used for firearms training. This is because of the reduced chance of ricochet, and because they don’t damage the backstop of the firearms range as much as regular full metal jacket ammo does.

    Hollow point ammo is certainly not illegal in England. In fact, it is required when hunting certain types of game because it reduces the suffering of the animal. Shooting a deer in the UK with something other than an expanding round is actually illegal.

  15. Gene:

    I see your point, perhaps I did not convey what I was intending. While I agree that itk is very important to scrutinize the actions I believe it is more important to find out what the thinking is behind these actions. And I fully agree the stated intent is often different from the true intent, or there could be a situation where honorable intentions by one administration might be changed for the worse by another and if the mechanisms can be exploited for evil, it is problematic to say the least.

    Everyone:

    An observation I had from the past. Probably around 2003 the US Government dumped massive amounts of security and weaponry to certain agencies on the possibility of terrorists attacking critical infrastructure. A was a witness to this a few years later.

    Our department received a letter / phone call from the US Coast Guard, which administered a LORAN-C station in the area, offering to donate to us a set of spike strips that was to be used against semi-trucks and large vehicles. These were beefier than standard spike strips. Of course we wanted to take them, why not? Free.

    I drove over to the station and met with them. They told me they had received these in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks, none of them could determine any use for them so they thought they would give them away. I asked one of them why they got these in the first place. He told me that the gov’t poured M-4’s (M-16 like rifles), ammo and other defensive measures and weapons all over. In fact, he mentioned the LORAN station in Alaska got several cases of these. The government was over concerned that Terrorists were so widespread that a radio navigation array in Alaska would be the next target. The officer was pretty dismayed with the whole affair as being a waste of money and of no use.

    I wonder if the same type of thinking is going on with this ammo purchase or it is simply just a restocking of munitions. But that is for someone who has far better inroads than I. But we all should be vigilant of this or any government program.

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