The anti\'s new weapon of choice
Police Worried About New Vest-Penetrating Gun
UPDATED: 7:12 AM EST January 13, 2005
NEW YORK -- There is a nationwide alert to members of law enforcement regarding a new kind of handgun which can render a bulletproof vest useless, as first reported by NewsChannel 4's Scott Weinberger.
New Gun Frightens Police
The most shocking fact may be that the gun -- known as the "five-seven" -- is being marketed to the public, and it's completely legal
It was a very difficult decision for members of law enforcement to go public about the new weapon, but officers fear that once word of the weapon begins to circulate in the wrong circles, they will be in great danger. They agreed to speak to NewsChannel 4, hoping the public will understand what they call the most devastating weapon they face.
The weapon is light, easily concealable and can fire 20 rounds in seconds without reloading.
"This would be devastating," said Chief Robert Troy, of the Jersey City Police Department.
Troy said he learned about the high-powered pistol from a bulletin issued by Florida Department of Law Enforcement to all of its agents. Troy believes faced with this new weapon, his officers would be at a total disadvantage.
"Dealing with a gun like this -- it's a whole new ballgame," Troy said.
Troy is not the only member of law enforcement to voice concern. As NewsChannel 4 began to contact several more departments in the Tri-State Area, it turned out that officers in Trumball, Conn., had seized one of these handguns during a recent arrest.
"Certainly, handguns are a danger to any police officer on any day, but one that specifically advertised by the company to be capable of defeating a ballistic vest is certainly the utmost concern to us," said Glenn Byrnes, of the Trumball Police Department.
The five-seven is made by FN Herstal, a Belgian company. On its Web site, the company boasts the five-seven's ability to penetrate more than 48 layers of Kevlar -- the material bulletproof vests are made of -- if you use a five-seven, 28-mm armor-piercing bullet.
However, the company said that bullet is not sold to the public. Instead, gun buyers can purchase what the company calls a training or civilian bullet -- the type loaded into the gun confiscated by Trumball police.
At a distance of 21 feet, Trumball police Sgt. Lenny Scinto fired the five-seven with the ammo sold legally to the public into a standard police vest. All three penetrated the vest.
The bullets even went through the back panel of the vest, penetrating both layers.
In a similar test, an officer fired a .45-caliber round into the same vest. While the shot clearly knocked it down, it didn't penetrate the vest, and an officer would likely have survived the assault.
"The velocity of this round makes it a more penetrating round -- that's what had me concerned," Scinto said.
FN Herstal told NewsChannel 4 that they dispute the test, stating, "Most law enforcement agencies don't have the ability to properly test a ballistic vest."
When NewsChannel 4 asked how this could have happened, the spokesperson said: "We [the company] are not experts in ballistic armor."
Back in Trumball, Scinto said his officers would have to rethink how to protect the public and protect themselves.
"This is going to add a whole new dimension to training and tactics. With the penetration of these rounds, you're going to have to find something considerably heavier than we normally use for cover and concealment to stop this round," Scinto said.
In Jersey City, Troy said he will appeal to lawmakers, hoping they will step in before any of his officers are confronted with the five-seven.
"This does not belong in the civilian population. The only thing that comes out of this is profits for the company and dead police officers," Troy said. "I would like the federal government to ban these rounds to the civilian public."