By: Brian Sikma
The Democratic lawmakers who circulated a draft bill banning ammunition used in hunting deer and bear in Wisconsin have backtracked on their plan. In a letter to legislative colleagues signed by Rep. Fred Kessler, the lawmakers admit they did not know their ban would actually conflict with Department of Natural Resources hunting regulations. According to the letter, the bill “was never intended to conflict with current laws or codes related to Wisconsins rich hunting tradition and those who annually participate in it.”
The lawmakers have repeatedly ignored requests for comment since news of the proposed ban first broke on Friday.
Although the letter clarified that the legislators were not intending to limit or curtail hunting in Wisconsin, it did fail to clarify two very important points about the ammunition ban they were seeking to impose.
First, the letter perpetuates the myth that hollow point, frangible, or ballistic tip ammunition is somehow more dangerous than so-called full jacket or ball ammunition. “Our intention was to provide protection to future victims of gun violence from ammunition that has a devastating impact on innocent civilians and law enforcement officials,” the letter reads.
Use of hollow point or similarly performing ammunition actually saves lives in crisis situations, according to experts. A Washington Times piece from last August quotes an expert with Winchester Ammunition who says that hollow point ammunition is designed to minimize damage, not create the carnage Democrats warn about.
Hollow-points bullets were designed for law enforcement to hit the intended target and not cause collateral damage behind the target, explained Mike Stock, an engineer at Winchester Ammunition. Our modern hollow point technology increases safety so a round goes in the bad guy and nowhere else.
A 1997 New York Times story focusing on hollow point ammunition, which was being hotly debated back then, quotes then-New York Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Hirsch who spoke about the limited collateral damage that results from hollow point ammunition.
”They do not produce grotesque, devastating injuries,” he said, ”and they are much less likely to pierce through a person, a wall, a car or some other object than are fully jacketed bullets. I think they are safer.” (Emphasis added)
When the Los Angels Police Department started using hollow point ammunition, the Department’s chief said that the ammunition was being used after a study found that the rounds were actually safer for officers to use because they did jeopardize bystanders with over-penetration or ricocheting off of the target.
Reaching back into the past, when the Milwaukee Police Department started using hollow point ammunition in the 1980s, an expert who studied the matter told officials that using the ammunition would increase public safety by reducing collateral damage and minimizing the number of rounds police officers would fire in a situation.
The second myth promoted by the four Democrats relates to the alleged use of hollow point ammunition by the U.S. military. While some military police use the ammunition like other law enforcement agencies, U.S. combat forces do not use hollow point ammunition because of the 1899 Hague Declaration.
Ironically, some legal work has been done to justify the potential use of hollow point ammunition by combat forces. One of the arguments is, again, that such ammunition minimizes harm and danger to civilians, who are often mixed in with enemy combatants in counter-insurgency type warfare.
The proposed ammunition ban would likely not get much traction due to Republican control of the state legislature. But the circulation of the legislation does seem to indicate that Democrats are interested in using gun and ammunition issues as political talking points that score them attention from the media.