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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do We Laugh Or Do We Cry?

Item 1: The NOAA (National Weather Service) is buying significant quantities of hollow-point ammo. So did the DHS (Homeland Security):
A solicitation which appears on the FedBizOpps website asks for 16,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets, noted for their strength, to be delivered to locations in Ellsworth, Maine, and New Bedford, Mass. A further 6,000 rounds of S&W JHP will be sent to Wall, New Jersey, with another 24,000 rounds of the same bullets heading to the weather station in St. Petersburg, Florida. ...

UPDATE: The Washington Post now reports, via a statement from NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen, that the original solicitation contained a “clerical error” and that the “solicitation for ammunition and targets for the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement mistakenly identified NOAA’s National Weather Service as the requesting office.”
Personally, none of this makes me happy. I recommend reading the article and thinking a bit. This stuff is really happening, and it should make everyone's eyes roll.

However, one possible explanation:
A 17-foot-7-inch Burmese python found in the Florida Everglades set a state record for both its size and the 87 eggs the snake was carrying, according to an official at the national park.
Preparing for boapocalypse! That or they intend to shoot climate change deniers, er, alligators? I am responding to a question up at Small Dead Animals.

My final suggestion is that some alert folks in the federal bureaucracy have learned that their pensions are mostly invested in "Special Obligation" Treasury bills, just like Social Security, meaning that there ain't nuthin' there, and they are arming themselves to make a fight of it.

This is a fairly typical late-fiscal-year ammo buy for annual training and qualification for agents. It sounds like a lot to the general public, but is really isn't that much - a bit over 100 rounds per agent per week, based on the text of the bids. Pretty easy to run through that much if you want to stay proficient with a pistol, keep qualifications current, etc.

Hmmm, two boxes of ammo per week per rabbit sheriff? That's about right for someone who is trying to keep their shooting in top form.

However, I've rarely met a cop who cared much about keeping his shooting in top form. Usually they're doing good to use up a box a year. I'd like to see the new training protocol that prompted this buy. It's plausible, but I'm skeptical.

Neil, I assumed single agents because that's how it's listed on the bid; could also be small field offices (2-3 agents) and the listed agent is the one responsible for the ammo. Don't know. My sense is that this is a routine order blown all out of proportion due to the clerical error that showed it as NWS initially.
I'm with Neil on this. I guess govt doesn't typically care about economy, but hollow-points for target practice?

Preparing for boapocalypse!

Snakes on a Plane

"Enough is enough! I have had it with these @#$%@#$%@#ing snakes on this @#$%@#$%@#ing plane!" - Samuel L. Jackson
John - but why hollow points? It's not like shooting hollow points is a special skill.

Yes, the clerical error was funny. It makes one wonder about just what the tornado chase cars are really doing.

Mark - if they start arming the air marshals with hollow points, that's it. I will never fly again.

I have seen with my own eyes what airport security can do with a ping pong ball gun, much less hollow points.

They were given as toys at a game developer's conference in California in the mid-1990s (and needed to fly back to Seattle).

Athough the gun was sealed in its original unopened packaging and all internal parts were clearly visible, the security officer had my coworker remove it from the package and hand it to her.

She then fired it at the nearby wall. I was thankful that her worst fears were not realized. The ping pong ball did not explode and/or emit toxic gases. If it had, we'd all be dead now.

True story.
We've left the python capture up to the government, which is why the populations are increasing. Nothing succeeds like failure.

To coin a phrase... Sigh.

The concern about the order being for hollow-points is overblown. It has become common wisdom to practice with the same ammo you intend to carry. The reason is that the impact point can change vs. point of aim, depending on the precise amount of powder and weight of bullet.

M_O_M, you're dead wrong about the air marshals. In a crowded space they had darn well better be loading hollow-points, or *I* am never flying again. Modern hollow points are designed to expand and lose all their kinetic energy inside the first thing they hit. They are designed to not "over-penetrate" and hit an innocent bystander behind the target. FMJ bullets have a much greater tendency to just zip in one side and out the other, and keep going. That's one of the reasons why the new hollow-point designs have become practically the only accepted police loads.
Neil - you have more faith than I do in their aim. I always figured they'd be afraid to shoot.

I'm not saying that there aren't very bad people around. I can see why the government offices are guarded. It's just....

M_O_M, it's a game of averages. If they're using hollow-points I have to worry about being the innocent bystander. If they're using FMJ, I have to worry about being the innocent bystander AND being the innocent bystander standing behind the innocent bystander...if that made any sense.

I find nothing scurrilous about cops with hollow-points. I do question the quantities ordered, though. I just heard that Social Security ordered 174K or so rounds of .357 SIG for their office guards. Leaving aside their apparently excellent taste in firearms, I'd really like to know how these quantities compare with previous years. Does this represent a big change?

Personally, I'd worry more about this.

If anybody still cares, I saw some good numbers on the Social Security purchase. They ordered 174,000 rounds. They have 295 agents total. That's almost exactly one box per agent per month. A box of fifty is about the right amount for one trip to the practice range. So they're going once a month on average.

I think we can put this one to bed.

Sounds about right, Neil. The NOAA buy was 46,000 rounds for 63 agents, which also works out to about a box a month.
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