Frangible projectiles, also called soft rounds, are designed in a way that they break upon impact with hard surfaces rather than ricocheting everywhere during close-quarter action. It presents a great, much-needed change in the way bullets were made for centuries, and departs from the existing school of thought, both in terms of personal protection and range shooting. Most important is that a frangible bullet is made using copper jackets, a refreshing change from the lead bullets and all the damage and lead poisoning they bring along with them.
Jason Villalba, a Texas State Representative, approached ballistic experts and members of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to determine the type of ammo that would be best used as ammunition which can be used by school marshals in active shooter situations.
Even though frangible ammunition is specifically designed to break upon impact with hard surfaces, experts raised a concern that this type of bullet could easily surpass the body of the intended target or sheet rock walls and endanger anyone in the immediate vicinity.
Based on his discussion with experts, Villalba spoke about amending the legislation to state that school marshals will not be allowed to carry the ammo unless it has been specifically been approved by TCOLE. “There are multiple types of frangible ammunition…. there are a number of different types of ammo that can work and will work and are frangible,” says Villalba.
Certain experts including Ken Alexander and Buford Boone who worked with the FBI pointed out concerns about the use of this type of ammo. After all, once a bullet is fired, there is always a chance that it pierces drywall and causes unintended damage. Villalba argued that while no ammunition completely eliminates the risk of collateral damage, frangible bullets are as close as one can get to minimizing the damage and stopping the attacker.
There are several different types of frangible ammunition in the market, and experts are currently testing ammunition that can be added to the included list by TCOLE. Sgt. Wade Parham, an instructor with ALERT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program) believes that there isn’t any pistol ammo that fails to penetrate walls and breaks up at the same time. He also says that while frangible projectiles might shatter into pieces when it hits common materials used in schools such as concrete, brick or hard tile floors.
The act that brought the role of school marshal came into existence after the Sandy Hook school shooting back in 2013, and this position is given to a volunteer whose role is only known to the school administrator and local law enforcement. There are certain specifics such as frangible bullets, firearms proficiency, training requirements and mental health evaluation that needs to be taken into account as well.
Says Villalba, “We want to ensure legislation is revised so that it will maximize the safety of our children and safeguard against an active shooter, protecting our children, our students, and do everything we can to find the best way to provide that last line of defense and keep others safe in these horrible situations.”
Technology undergoes continuous change and this means that newer, safer and more effective means of ammunition are bound to crop up from time to time. Villalba’s openness to amend the legislation is good news for all as it can bring various experts together and help chart out the best way forward.