The use of hollow point bullets by armed citizens is defensible, argues Massad Ayoob. And here's how a prosecutor might try to trip you up.
Why use hollow point bullets, which in my experience opposing counsel will make a point of more times than not in an armed citizen shooting?
Not because the police do – that would open us up to the “wanna-be cop” tar-and-feathering – but for the same reasons police do. Those reasons are:
- The “mushroom” shape of the hollow point that opposing counsel loves to mention, perhaps hoping to invoke visions of a nuclear cloud over Hiroshima, is also a “parachute” shape intended to slow the bullet down and keep it inside the body of the offender, so it won’t pass through and strike an unseen innocent bystander.
The cookie-cutter shape of the hollow point tends to bite into hard surfaces and bury itself there, if the bullet misses, instead of ricocheting and going on to endanger innocent bystanders as would the supposedly “humane” bullets the uninformed critics say we should use.
- Every single department that issues hollow points will tell you that since the transition from older ammo, these bullets have been more effective and stopped fights faster. Stopping the criminal immediately from stabbing or shooting or otherwise mauling the innocent is the whole reason there is such a thing as “justifiable homicide” in the first place. The sooner he’s stopped, the fewer innocents he can harm.
- Finally, we can make a good argument that since this ammunition stops him faster, the Bad Guy will sustain fewer gunshot wounds and may actually be more likely to survive the encounter.
If the above arguments had been effectively put before the jury, the verdict in Arizona v. Fish might have been different.
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Editor's Note: In the next part of this series, Ayoob looks at arguments that should be avoided while defending an armed shooting in self-defense. Click here to read Part I.