Sunday, August 30, 2009

Police Officers and Gun Safety

We are often told that only military and law enforcement personnel should have guns. Here's a golden oldie from a decade ago after D.C. police switched from revolvers to Glocks.

I recommend reading the whole thing, but let's just see how many of the Four Rules the officers clearly violated, often with catastrophic results. Italics below are mine.

Rule One: All guns are always loaded.
The first accident occurred in February 1989 – less than a month before the
guns reached officers on the street. Officer Adam K. Schutz was helping to test
and clean the first shipment of guns when he shot himself in the fingers.
"It bit me," said Schutz, who was left with permanent damage to a finger on
his left hand. "I was moving my hand to lower the slide and it jumped forward. I
had assumed the gun was unloaded

Keep in mind that this is someone in the armorer's shop. It gets better.

Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

In January 1994, homicide detective Jeffrey Mayberry shot Officer James Dukes in
the stomach at police headquarters. "I hear a loud bang and Dukes is slowly falling to the floor," Detective Joseph Fox, Mayberry's partner, said in a deposition. "Jeff jumps up and says, 'Dukes, I didn't mean to do it, I didn't mean to do it.' "
Dukes said in a recent interview, "He was playing with the weapon. This was the second time I had told [Mayberry] during that tour of duty not to point the weapon at me."

Sorry, dude. Didn't mean to sweep you with my Glock and plug you in the gut.

Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
In October 1990, Officer Edward Wise fired accidentally and grazed a man's
head during an undercover drug operation at a Southeast Washington housing
complex, according to police and court documents. Wise said he had been
struggling with the man, Barry Braxton, who was unarmed. Braxton sued and
collected a $55,000 settlement from the District.
Sabrina Whittle, who was
Wise's partner, said in a recent interview that she and her partner were not
taught to keep their fingers off the triggers of their Glocks unless they
intended to fire.
"The most we had to go on was common sense," said Whittle,
then a 21-year-old police rookie, now a security guard. "It was dark and late
and we were scared. I know that, both of us being scared, he had his finger on
the trigger. Obviously, [with] your finger on the trigger, you're

Yes, prepared to accidentally shoot someone. The fact that this is in the paper and not buried in some investigation report, and that the former officer doesn't realize how wrong-headed it is - eesh.

Rule Four: Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
In March 1993, Officer Lakisha Poge fired a round through her bed while
unloading a Glock in her apartment
, a police report states. The bullet went
through the floor and hit Glowdean Catching in the apartment below. Catching,
who was wounded in both legs, has a suit pending against the District. Poge, who
has left the department, could not be reached for comment.

In this officer's defense, you could do worse than a bed and a floor as a backstop.

There is nothing magical about being in the military or carrying a badge along with your gun. There are people who invest in safe gun handling and proficiency. Sometimes those people happen to serve in the military or in law enforcement agenices. Sometimes they don't.


  1. How to Remember Rule Three:

    "Keep your booger hook off the Bang Switch".

    KYFFOTFT (Keep your BLEEPing finger off the BLEEPing trigger) [until you are ready to fire]

  2. I have designed an excellent chamber flag, the K5 Weapon Safety Device, specifically for Law Enforcement training in an effort to reduce accidents during training, especially in low light. It also provides a visual que that a firearm is safe to point and handle when in the home oron the range. for more information.