Violence Policy Center
Warns Nation's Law Enforcement Officers of New Handgun Threat to Police
New VPC Study,
Vest Buster: The .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum�The Gun Industry's Latest
Challenge to Law Enforcement Body Armor, Documents That the "Most Powerful
Handgun In the World" Has Armor-Penetrating Power That Can Pierce the
Highest Level of Bullet-Resistant Patrol Vests
Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released a new study, Vest
Buster: The .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum�The Gun Industry's Latest Challenge
to Law Enforcement Body Armor, warning that standard ammunition
fired by the recently introduced .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver,
promoted as "the most powerful handgun in the world," can penetrate the
highest level of body armor worn by the nation's police while on patrol.
Police body armor
is designed to protect against handgun threats. The new Smith & Wesson
.500 Magnum revolver, however, develops a striking force exceeding the
power of many rifles. Only special external body armor, designed for use
by SWAT teams and other high-risk units, can withstand rifle fire. The
.500 Magnum thus brings a new level of handgun threat to the nation's
50-caliber handgun draws a bead on every law enforcement officer in America,"
said Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst and study author. "It is unfortunately
only the latest example of dangerously reckless marketing by America's
virtually unregulated gun industry." Diaz further noted that the .500
Magnum handgun, first introduced in February 2003, is already appearing
at gun shows, notorious as sources of criminal gun trafficking. In addition,
he pointed out, at least one shoulder holster is being sold for the Magnum
revolver, thus making it easy for criminals to carry the gun concealed.
For the report, the
VPC analyzed information published by Smith & Wesson, ballistics test
data from the National Rifle Association's American Rifleman magazine,
and federal body armor standards established by the U.S. Department of
Justice. Vest Buster
demonstrates that the power of the new .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum round
substantially exceeds the protection of the highest level of concealable
body armor normally worn by law enforcement officers in the field, known
as Type IIIA.
The .500 Magnum follows
a Smith & Wesson tradition of designing extremely powerful handguns. Vest
Buster points out that 27 out of 144 (nearly one out of every five) law
enforcement officers slain with a handgun from 1998 through 2000 were
killed with one of three types of handgun and cartridge combinations originally
designed and introduced by Smith & Wesson: the .357 Magnum, the .44 Magnum,
and the .40 S&W.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x109