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We posted a piece Saturday on the ominous re-appearance of (cue scary music) “cop-killer” bullets in New York. It will probably come as an Earth-shattering, illusion-destroying revelation, but you need to hear the truth from someone, so here it is – sometimes reporters make mistakes. And the author of the New York Post article RF referred to, Kristan Conley, misquoted firearms instructor Kenneth Cooper. Well, that’s what he tells us, anyway. So we invited him to set the record straight. We hope Ken isn’t holding his breath until he gets the same treatment from the Post . . .

I am a New York State Certified Instructor, and have been since 1995. I have been certified by:

  • Smith and Wesson Academy, Use of Force Instructor
  • Sig Arms Academy, Armorer
  • NRA Law Enforcement Activities Division, Firearms Instructor
  • NRA Civilian Instructor, all aspects
  • Asp Baton
  • Sure Fire Low Light Instructor
  • TASER Instructor
  • Force Science Institute – Human Stress Response
  • I am a charter member of ILEETA – International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, and IALEFI – International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.
  • I authored the Ulster County Handgun Safety Course, have testified in United State District Court, Eastern Division
  • New York State Supreme Court, Brooklyn Supreme Court, Vermont Supreme Court, and the High Court in Hong Kong as an expert in firearms, police procedures and tactics, TASER use, Ballistics –  (internal  external, and terminal), and aspects of the human stress response in a lethal force encounter.

I am a Criminal Justice adjunct instructor at the State University of New York, Ulster Campus, and am the Senior Instructor and founder of THT of New York (Tactical Handgun Training), a private firearms and security training academy since 1983, Incorporated in 1990. I have trained over 6000 people in firearms safety, handling and tactics and Use of Force law.  

In 2000, I was one of four experts who worked pro bono for the Sean Carrol defense team headed by Phil Messina in the Amadou Diallo trial In Albany.

In 1999, when Mr. Diallo was shot, NYPD use hardball 9mm rounds for duty. James Fyfe, NYPD consultant, felt that ball ammunition would function more reliability in the new semi auto handguns – prior to this, NYPD use .38 caliber wheel guns.

I presented to the ASLET Conference in Miami (American Society for Law Enforcement Trainers) after the trial on the use of hardball ammunition by the New York City Police. It was and is my opinion that, should a reliable controlled expansion round have been authorized for the officers, Mr. Diallo would not have been shot 19 times. Sixteen of the hits passed through Mr. Diallo’s body with little effect. The energy dump from those rounds was transmitted through doors and walls. Only three rounds had effect, and only 1 round, which nicked his aorta, caused his death.

Ten days after the incident, NYPD went to Federal Gold Dot. NYPD had already been concerned with over penetration and ricochet hazard. Controlled expansion rounds would have had a more profound effect on Amadou Diallo, reducing the number of rounds fired.

The uninitiated public – and Bruce Springsteen – measure the appropriateness of force by numbers of rounds fired. We know that, once deadly force is deemed necessary, we fire until the action stops. Cops are trained stoppers, not killers. This is how we train armed civilians. The goal is NOT to kill. The use of the primitive tool – a handgun- is used to stop a suspect from his/her deadly actions, not to end that suspect’s life. The state wants that honor. Mr. Diallo did not stop moving as the rounds passed through his body with little effect – the officers fired until the movement stopped.

I have been interviewed by phone many times since. I have had relative luck with most of the reporters. Their main malfunction is ignorance of the issue. Some also have agendas that are overtly anti-gun or anti-cop.

It seems I was unlucky to be contacted by a reporter who seemed to exhibit at least some these qualities. In discussing what the reporter called “hollow points” she felt “hollow points” were illegal in New York, and that “hollow points” are “cop killer” bullets.

Controlled expansion rounds are not illegal in New York State, which I explained to her. Armed civilians and police routinely carry this bullet design, which decreases over-penetration problems, is more effective in stopping the deadly actions of the perpetrator and cannot penetrate bullet resistant vests.

This issue was debunked over a decade ago. It sounds exciting to those who have no knowledge or understanding of firearms use for self defense and no understanding of terminal ballistics. Rounds that expand have a decreased penetration. An expanding round hitting a bullet resistant vest has less ability to penetrate that vest. No handgun round has ever killed a cop by penetrating a vest.  

I explained this to the reporter, telling her that “knuckleheads/badguys” do not usually have the ability or desire to purchase legal and proper rounds (frangible/controlled expansion) and could care less about the collateral damage caused by over penetration from rounds we all use for training and practice. They use “bargain basement” rounds.

I am in the middle of an Albany trial. This outrageous article has caused me great concern and has been detrimental to a reputation I have worked hard to keep appropriate and excellent for 30 years.


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    • I’m not sure how this helps anything, other than the expert being quoted. If we want people to get the right info, someone has to be willing to give that info to the reporters. Of course sometimes this still won’t work, but I’d rather have some voice in the fight than none at all and leaving article quotations entirely to the Brady crowd.

  1. Well Finally the record gets set straight! Yeah ok i knew this already, but nice to hear he took some time out to rebut the uneducated report. Sure great headline, non gun owners probably ate it up, thinking the world is coming to an end!
    What amazes me is how a reporter, someone who should be reporting news, i.e. facts, who, what, when, where could not take an hour to study bullet styles and uses. You might not need to be a subject matter expert but it goes a long way to do your homework.
    I can think of at least three instances, no don’t ask me to quote dates, where a stray bullet from some gang member goes through a soft wall and kills someone on the other side. One I remember was a small girl in Oakland.
    As the person stated criminals don’t care, but we do. So using expansion rounds for home defense makes a lot of sense and is a good move on our part as gun owners.
    Ok I will get off my flaming soap box now. 🙂

  2. Reporters live to sensationalize…it brings more readers to their articles, which usually ensures them a continued paycheck. Why let the facts stand in the way of a good story? When I do interviews, I bring my own digital recorder, to keep a record of I actually stated.

  3. Apparently, presuppositions are all you need to have the authority to write on a particular subject …why let fair and balanced research get in the way of proving your point? Just because a media outlet has the word “news” or “journalism” attached to it doesn’t make it so.

  4. It’s astonishing how ignorant the general population is regarding everything in general and firearms in particular.

  5. Being a current student , I have noticed a disturbing trend in how people are being taught to write these days. It used to be that one researched a topic, selected a thesis, and only after checking the facts against the thesis should further work be done to advance it. If the thesis is dis-proven by solid research, I was originally taught to abandon it.

    Today students are taught to conceive of a rigid thesis, and then find the facts that happen to fit that concept. If facts are lacking, then one should cherry pick the source to find out what fits the thesis, or embellish and edit as needed to get the desired support for the preconceived message.

    Example; man says to reporter of crook invading his home that the attacker was “scary and high on drugs”. Reporter says thanks and later writes in the anti-gun story “scared & panicky homeowner with a gun shoots recovering drug addict.”

    I will not impose my perspective on others,but I am of the extreme belief that the people with the microphones are just as formidable an enemy to my way of life as the prosecutor and the crook who attacks me. Ill talk to the police and authorities via my attorney, as they have a mandate to act on the facts. I won’t even say “no comment” to the press, because their mandate is high ratings at all costs.

  6. They use “bargain basement” rounds.
    Actually low level criminals use whatever they can get their hands on.

    I dunno, I never really considered “solid” rounds to be bargain basement, sort of depended what you were trying to do.

  7. Why the outrage? The “reporter” is everything we’ve come to expect of the MSM. There’s no doubt that she has a great career ahead of her editing 911 tapes for NBC.

  8. “The use of the primitive tool – a handgun- is used to stop a suspect from his/her deadly actions, not to end that suspect’s life. The state wants that honor.”

    A modern handgun is primitive? I think he’s just offended everyone who lusts after and owns those latest greatest most accessory added-on tactical extended magazine pistols. The state does often want the honor of ending a suspect’s life unless it would be politically inconvenient.

    • Enjoyed my brothers and sisters comments – FYI – Paco (Frank Serpico) is a good friend and graduate of my academy – he is a very good shooter.

        • Michael: Gold dot is used by NYPD – don’t let that sour you! it is an excellent round – the jacket is bonded to the lead core – If you have experience with rounds like silver tips, you will notice that jackets separate at impact. A bonded jacket keeps things intact, keeping most of the projecticle in one piece.
          I tested this round with the rep at the Sig Academy in Exeter NH – of course, on a hot day – Ballistic Jell
          really sucks when you get it all over you.
          FYI – I use Golden Saber – the bullet profile is rounded, which reduces feeding issues – but I use a Colt .45 – (actulally, I use 4). The Saber has a 185 grain and a +P. Remember, everytime you fire your gun, it degrades. The hotter the round, the more stresses on the gun. Guns like Glock are made for European rounds – loaded to higher SAAMI specs than ours – those guns like to eat hot stuff –
          There is NO magic bullet – a well functioning firearm
          combined with proper shot placement is the cure for deviants.

        • Thanks, Ken! You should stick around and comment more often. That’s some very good infrormation!

        • Thanks Michael – Be glad to offer an “Opinion” on anything that someone has curosity about. That is the way we learn – It has been my pipe dream to provide accurate information to our press people…it remains a pipe dream

        • Hey Ken, got another question for you. Do you carry fullsize 1911s, Officers Models, or some combination of the two (such as a Colt CCO)?

        • Michael: Rich Niemer, former head smith for Detonics, hand-made my primary .45 – He now is the head smith for Olympic Arms. The design is the Safari Arms Enforcer. Officers size – It has a National Match barrel
          and has been smoothed over the entirety of the gun – the shorter slide makes for very fast shooting – and i like to shoot fast… without missing.
          I shoot bowling pins at 100 yards – all my instructors are required to accomplish that feat…in front of students – and with any gun I pick for them.
          I also have a full size Colt as my second gun, a Detonics Combat Master, and a series 70.

        • What is your opinion on tritium night sights on a carry gun?

          I personally carry a small LED flashlight on me during my travels at night because I think this is better for target verification, possibly disorienting the bad guy, and it allows me to see my stock sights in the darkness anyway.

          What are your thoughts on that?

        • Michael: This is a very important question, requiring more than a quick response – I’ll give you an appetizer:
          * should you be shooting people in low light? If confronted by an attacker, the distances may only require a point shooting skill set.
          * a proper personal light that may also be used as a distraction (blinding) tool, and, a strike/impact tool requires an 80 – 200 lumen brightness, and a two cell body. Mitch Rosen makes a SOS mag holder – holds 1 mag and a surefire or similar personal light.
          * Low light tactics are…tactics, requiring plenty of thought and the proper training. Sig Arms and Surefire have programs for civilians.
          * The key to survival ( other than court room survival) is cover, cover, cover. Forget about trying get rounds into a darkened silhouette.
          * Three glowing green orbs, under the ultimate stress of a lethal force encounter, have had shooters unknowingly line up the orbs incorrectly, not realizing the gun is canted – Companies now make the front sight a different color than the rear.
          * Any badguys that are behind you can see your nuclear radiated sights, and you – some orbs are so bright they reflect off of things like jewelry.
          * Are you sure you want to put nuclear waste near your face?
          I am a point shooter. If I need to deploy my .45 in this target rich civilian and litigious society, I can hit the threat – If you cannot see the threat clearly, you do not know if their hands are up, or if you are shooting a good guy.
          All I recommend to my students, should they want to go nuclear, is using the front orb only – they key to accurate shooting is- front sight – front sight – front sight
          As you can tell, I have been in court many many times.
          Be safe,

  9. After a career of dealing with media (where there was no choice but to speak to them as per employment policy), I would suggest to always record the interview yourself (small digital recorder). If you are misquoted, if the information is “edited” to show a private agenda then just play the real recording for the competitors of the organization that conducted the interview. In the arena of news reporting, the only thing more valuable than catching someone unaware proving your private agenda is to find something that your competitor did was “wrong”.

    Most reporters have an agenda and most are very good at concealing that from you during the interview.

    Anytime you hear someone call a specific type of bullet a “cop killer” bullet, they announce themselves as ignorant political hacks and not well informed students of firearms. Give them credit accordingly.

  10. Hollow points are legal in New York, but illegal in New Jersey. The PATH system operates entirely in NJ except for the WTC station.


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