The District of Columbia City Council has tabled, and in effect killed, a controversial bill that would have prohibited the Metropolitan Police Department from continued use of hollow-point bullets.
By a 7-to-5 vote, the Council, during a seven-hour meeting that lasted until 3 a.m. yesterday, rejected the recommendation of its Judiciary Committee that the bullets be banned as standard issue to members of the city's police force.
The hollow-point bullet, which expands upon impact and is therefore more deadly to its victim, has been at the center of a controversy for several months. Councilman David A. Clarke (D-one) has led the fight in the City Council to ban the bullet.
The legislation was introduced by the late Council member Julius Hobson Sr., Jan. 7, the day on which the police department began issuing such bullets.
During yesterday's debate, Councilman Arrington Dixon (D-Four), who has originally supported the ban on the bullets, said he had heard no arguments when bullets much bigger than the hollow point had been brought into the District building by police during the Hanafi takeover in March.
"The basic issue is one of making sure that the police department has what is necessary to take care of business," said Councilman Jerry Moore (R-At-Large) in an interview yesterday. "I think it's one of those silly liberal ideas that Mr. Clarke proposed."
Clarke has argued that the hollow-point bullet would not necessarily increase police firepower. He said 66 per cent of the shots fire by D.C. police do not hit their target and that he is concerned about innocent bystanders who may get hurt by stray bullets.
As for situations such as the Hanafi takeover, Clark said in a telephone interview yesterday that his bill "would not have prohibited the use of special weapons in special circumstances."