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BULLETMAKER TO POSTPONE NEW RELEASE

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The manufacturer of a devastating new armor-piercing bullet promised Wednesday to delay its release because of concern that criminals could get their hands on the it.

David Keen, speaking on the NBC "Today" show, said he's made "a management decision to put the Black Rhino on hold . . . even if it is approved" by federal authorities."We're seeing a change in what the law enforcement wants based upon the response that they're seeing from the public, and that is fear that the rounds will fall into the wrong hands," Keen said.

Keen told The Huntsville Times on Tuesday that he will go ahead with .45-caliber and 9 mm versions of the other Rhino bullets.

In a story about the bullets earlier this week, Keen told The Associated Press that his Alabama company was bringing out "Black Rhino" and "Rhino-Ammo" bullets that can leave baseball-sized holes in people because of the way they fragment on impact with human flesh. In addition, the Black Rhino bullets have a design that can penetrate bullet-proof vests. Federal approval was pending, expected in about a month.

In his comments to NBC, Keen didn't make it clear whether the "Rhino-Ammo" brand's release also would be delayed. His office phone number was busy Tuesday and this morning.

The claims about the bullets' destructive power provoked cries for a swift ban - and skepticism from the National Rifle Association.

"The beauty behind it is that it makes an incredible wound," Keen, an research chemist making his first foray into the bullet business, told the AP. "There's no way to stop the bleeding. I don't care where it hits. They're going down for good."

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., said there was "something sick" about Keen's comments. He said he would propose legislation to ban Keen's bullets if federal regulators don't block them. Congress reconvenes next week.

Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who sponsored this year's federal crime bill, also promised to introduce legislation to keep Keen's bullets out of guns. "It's blood money, plain and simple," he said.

Moynihan sponsored a 1986 ban on armor-piercing "cop-killer" bullets and shepherded an expansion of it into the crime bill. Last year, Moynihan also helped drive the Winchester "Black Talon" hollow-point expanding bullet off the market by proposing a 10,000 percent tax on the ammunition.

The NRA's chief lobbyist, Tanya K. Metaksa, dismissed Keen's boasts.

"This has all the trappings of a hoax," she said in a statement. "What we have is an outbreak of mob journalism centering on the dubious claims of a would-be manufacturer."

Other gun-rights supporters note that at least two types of bullets similar to the proposed Rhino-Ammo already are on the market.