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Round in the Chamber or Not

In: Social Issues

Submitted By jameshardy
Words 3093
Pages 13
Running head: LETHAL WEAPON
Round in the chamber or not
James Hardy
SECR 5010

Lethal Weapon
Today’s question facing the United States Armed Forces is, “Should Military Police (MP) carry a weapon that has a round in the chamber, with a full magazine, while performing law enforcement duties on installations?” I will analyze this question by giving facts to support my legal and ethical arguments, then I will take a opposing opinion that is supported with legal and ethical arguments, and final I will close by reassessing my initial response and indicate whether I have changed my opinion or not.

I Support rounds in the chamber
I believe that MP should be authorized to carry a loaded weapon. We are authorized to carry a weapon with loaded magazines and the logic of a reasonable person should say that the rationale we are carrying the weapon is to be able to use it if all other means of nonlethal tactics fail (like verbal judo). But, without the round in the chamber, doesn’t my weapon (firearm) becomes synonymous to being nonlethal? And if a MP draws his weapon, isn’t it because he is trying to ward off deadly force to defend himself or the public against those rare situations, such as threats of death or serious bodily injury? So why are we as leaders, standing for MP to carry a lethal weapon that does not have a round in the chamber? The time it takes to load a round in the chamber of a empty weapon may cost that MP or innocent bystander their life. I feel that we train very hard to become certified to be able to use and carry a weapon without ball ammunition in the chamber, (MPFQC, 2010). And with this unloaded weapon, our MP risk their life to protect the life’s of those on the installation with an unloaded firearm. If it was not for the recent change in policy to authorize MP to use hollow points, one could say that with no round in the chamber and the use of ball ammo, the risk assessment for a MP is very great. I’m sure that DACP are performing their duties with a loaded weapon. And even Civilian police on US Army bases are now authorized to load their weapons with jacketed hollow-point bullets, (Mother Jones, 2010). It is amazing that before MP were authorized to have a round in the chamber, we were first authorized to carry hollow points! These rounds that are available for use by civilians in most US States, are banned in international conflicts, (Yale, 2008). So what is safer, a hollow point or a MP without a round in the chamber? I am willing to say, “No round in the chamber is not safe!” So the reader maybe asking, “what is a hollow point?” The hollow point features a small depression cut into the slug's nose, usually filled with notched steel and enables the rounds to "deform and fragment upon striking a hard-tissue target and mushroom into a larger diameter, thus creating a larger wound cavity, (Mother Jones, 2010). So now the reader maybe asking, “who authorized hollow points but didn’t authorize a mandate to have rounds in the chamber?” Brig. General Colleen McGuire authorized it and she stated that it needed to happen because after a gunman opened fire at the Pentagon in March of this year and after a deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood, the new policy, issued May 2010, gives installation police the required tools necessary to secure our posts, camps, and stations from both internal and external active shooter threats, (Mother Jones, 2010). Hollow-point munitions are already highly favored by civilian law enforcement agencies, such as the New York Police Department, which switched to the ammo in 1998, (Mother Jones, 2010). I would like point out that there was also a shooting at Fort Bliss, in September 2010, where a man opened fire at a convenience store on Fort Bliss, injuring two people before being killed by responding officers, (Fox News, 2010). Fort Hood the installation itself has had two active shooter incidents, one in 1991where a man shot and killed 23 people in a restaurant in October 1991 and the second happened in 2009, when an Army psychiatrist (identified as Major Nidal Malik Hasan) opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 12 people and wounding 31 others, (MSNBC, 2009). With all of these situations happening, my questions are, wouldn’t you prefer to have a round already loaded before engaging these offenders and did the law enforcement official’s weapon have a round in the chamber before they engaged the offender(s) (they loaded a round once they received the transmission over the radio about the crime) or afterwards once they arrived on the scene? Either way, I am for carrying a round in the chamber and I am also for those rounds being hollow point. This loaded weapon (round in the chamber, nullifies unnecessary time to shoot a offender to save my life or bystanders.
So the irony is that the Office of the Provost Marshal General (OPMG) authorized MP to use hollow points in hopes to better secure the post, but not authorize them to carry a round in the chamber!
Can we use hollow points in combat? I read that hollow points are munitions that are illegal to use in war. The Hague Convention of 1899 bans any lawful combatant from using bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions, bullets like steel-jacketed hollow-points, (Yale, 2008). The Hague convention of 1899 declares as that the Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions, (Yale, 2008). But now we can carry hollow points, but we still have to be concerned about our MP not having a round in the chamber. Doesn’t research show that it takes additional time to add a round in the chamber? I feel that MP face the most risk when in a situation where they will have to shoot. But now that MP has to worry about other factors before he can safely engage the offender. Factors like, how long does it take to know that your target is approaching you? How long does it take withdraw your side arm from your holster, load a round, switch to fire and then engage the target? Factors like, with is my minimal safe area to fire my weapon before the offender is close enough to hurt me? Well, after thinking about all of those questions and factors, I personally conducted five rack and load drills (after the weapon is withdrawn from the holster). After 10 drills, I have found out that it takes approximately 4 seconds to assess the situation pull your loaded weapon from your holster and fire two rounds at your target (remember you don’t want to hit innocent bystanders and plus you are now carrying hollow points). But you will have to add a additional two seconds to load your weapon and then fire. So, now if you weapon does not have a round in the chamber, your offender has about six seconds to assault you! That right there is enough research for me, to vote for MP to carry a loaded weapon!
So how long does it takes for a offender (your target) to close distance and assault you? The Police Policy Study Council, 2004, has found that an average healthy adult male can cover the traditional seven yard distance in a time of about one and one-half seconds. It would be safe to say then that an armed attacker at 21 feet is well within your Danger Zone. The formula is: [(20 / 7) * 1.5 = 4.5]. So twenty one feet divided by seven yards equals three; and three multiplied by 1.5 seconds equals 4.5 seconds. So, it is safe to say it takes an adult male 4.5 seconds to enter your danger zone, become lethal and hurt you with their hand, or a edged or blunted object.
Before I close, I am willing to bet that the two Pentagon police officers had rounds loaded in their chambers during their engagement. In May of this year, an armed man walked up to an entrance to the Pentagon, approached two police officers, calmly pulled a gun from his coat pocket and opened fire, wounding the officers before they shot him, (Washington Post, 2010). I’m sure that them having a round in the chamber was the difference between them being buried 6 feet deep, being honored posthumously or going home to hug the family. With all of the facts and questions that I have raised, I strongly support authorizing MP to have a round loaded in the chamber of their weapon.

I oppose rounds in the chamber
I am opposed to MP carrying a loaded weapon to perform their law enforcement duties on installations (noncombat), because there are numerous situations that show that not only MP, but soldiers are unsafe in combat with weapon discipline and have to be constantly supervised to ensure the safety of others and themselves. So if they can’t do it in combat, how can we honestly trust a soldier to carry a loaded weapon safely in a garrison environment?
There are only three simple rules you need to follow to ensure that you won’t mistakenly shoot yourself, your buddy or a innocent bystander: (1) Just keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. If you follow this rule then regardless of what happens nothing important will be shot.
(2) Keep your finger off the trigger until the gun is pointed at something you intend to shoot. If you follow this rule you will virtually eliminate unintentional discharges. Most unintentional discharges are the result of the shooter pulling the trigger either accidentally or on purpose.
(3) Keep the gun unloaded unless you are ready to shoot but do not let that cause you to stop treating the gun with the respect and care required to insure safety.
If soldiers and MP can not follow these simple three steps in combat, I definitely do not want them carrying a loaded firearm on the installation where my family and friends live and work.
Let me state some facts, to prove how irresponsible individuals can be with their weapons. After I have given the facts from these unforgivable incidents, I do believe that my argument will be made clear and strong enough to prevent MP from ever being authorized to carry a loaded weapon in a garrison environment. Because, once you take a life, you can never give it back.
In, 2003, US Army CPT James Shull died of a gunshot wound to his head as he was on a routine patrol in. The fatal wound came not from an Iraqi insurgent but from one of his own men, who, an Army investigation determined, had carelessly tossed his M-16 rifle into the back of his Humvee without activating the rifle's safety switch, the gun went off, shooting Shull, who died instantly, (USA Today, 2005). Can you imagine being on duty and sitting in the patrol car as a MP tosses a loaded weapon (shotgun) into the trunk or back seat! The only way to prevent that from happening is to prevent them from having authorization to carry a loaded weapon!
In 2004, five troops were wounded and two more were killed in 16 accidental discharges, (The High Road, 2004). This is unspeakable and only supports my position on what a loaded weapon can do. Remember, there are only three simple steps to follow to ensure your safety and other’s as well. Are these soldiers not doing that?
In 2007, in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, smoke billowed from the Humvee after several bullets struck it and the paratroopers, who were in a school near where the Humvee was parked, quickly moved to the source of the small-arms fire, (DVIDS, 2007). The unit thought they were being ambushed. The gun fire actually came from a young Soldier was apparently discussing the operation of an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, when the weapon fired, disabling the truck, (DVIDS, 2007). Negligent discharges, such as the example above, have become a common occurrence in Afghanistan. "Some people like to call it an accidental discharge," said retired CSM Dave Henderson, the Combined Joint Task Force 82nd Safety director, "But a weapon doesn't accidentally fire by itself, there is negligence somewhere," (DVIDS, 2007). Since January 2007, there have been 126 reported negligent discharges in the Operation Enduring Freedom area of operation resulting in the deaths of three people and the injuring of 11 people.
Army CSM Patrick Brooks, the 82nd Airborne Division Special Troops Battalion command stated in a article that the atmosphere in Afghanistan (in 2007) really didn’t put them in a position to walk around with loaded weapons, (DVIDS, 2007). The CSM also stated that there is a magazine in their weapon, but the weapon is not locked and loaded and if a Soldier was to get into any type of trouble, he will have enough time to lock and load that weapon, (DVIDS, 2007).
The BN CSM also noted safety reasons for not locking and loading, because when you go into a DFAC or into a PX someone could accidentally go from safe to fire and accidentally hurt someone, (DVIDS, 2007). Wow! So if the Bn CSM doesn’t want soldiers in a combat zone to carry a loaded weapon in areas that would similar to the ones our families would be at, why would we, as leaders, dads, moms, and friends support MP carrying a loaded weapon?
I believe that the end to negligent discharges begins with leaders, as it begins with leaders to not support MP carrying loaded weapons while on duty. CSM Brooks states that it is a leader's responsibility to ensure the safety of the soldiers and others. When MP carry a round in the chamber and have to engage their target and miss or even just have a negligent discharge, they can injure or kill another person, and damage equipment. They can also result in legal action being taken against them, (DoD, 2008) and (Cornell Law, 2010).
In conclusion, because of the facts listed above, the risk is too great to garrison environments to authorize MP to carry a round in the chamber, not to mention that BG McGuire has authorized the use of hollow points, which gives more room for supervision to prevent errors.

Final assessment
So in conclusion, when I attempt to reassess my initial response, I strongly believe that it would benefit the Army to authorize MP to carry a loaded weapon, especially since they have authorized them to carry hollow points. I have not changed my opinion and I do not believe that the difference between life and death of an MP should be based on whether or not his weapon was authorized to have a round in the chamber. As I stated before, the Army’s OPMG, Brigadier General Colleen McGuire, has approved the use of hollow point bullets for law enforcement officers on Army installations in the U.S., a decision that comes after a gunman opened fire at the Pentagon and after a deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood in November, (Democratic, 2010). If BG McGuire approved this, I hope that she approves rounds in the chamber as well. If approved to have a round in the chamber, the MP will now have hollow point rounds in the chamber of their weapon, and I do believe it will be vital to educate them that the rounds are said to be more lethal and carry less risk for bystanders because they lose velocity on impact and that the rounds deform and fragment upon striking a hard-tissue target. The rounds mushroom into a larger diameter; the rounds create a larger wound cavity but penetrate only up to 13 inches versus ball ammo, which penetrates up to 24 inches, (Bullet, 2009). Leaders! How can we mitigate these risks? I believe that leaders should ensure that MP will have mature judgment, law enforcement training and experience, while performing their law enforcement duties and be thoroughly familiar with all applicable agreements and implementing SOP for that installation. The PM and DES should establish training to maintain operational readiness (Military Police Certification Program and Weapons Qualification) with the use of hollow points and a round in the chamber, (MPFQC, 2010).

“Bullet.” 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from Wikipedia: “Cornell Law.” 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from Title 18 United States Code (USC), Section 1385, Use of Army and Air Force Posse Comitatus:
“Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System.” 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from DVIDSHUB.NET:
DoD. (2008) Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM)
“Democratic Underground.” 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from Democratic
“Fox News.” 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from Fox
“Mother Jones.” 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from Mother “MPFQC.” 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from Field Manual 19-10: C
“MSNBC.” 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from MSNBC.COM:
“The High Road.” 2004. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from The High Road.Org:
“The Police Policy Study Council.” 2004. Retrieved October 21, 2010, from PPSC.ORG:
“The Washington Post.” 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from The Washington
“USA Today.” 2005. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from USA
“Yale Law School.” 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2010 from…...

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