June 28, 2004

It Was The Gun's Fault

An "accidental shooting" in Alabama was balmed on the gun, not the negligence of the operator. The operator in question is a cop, which I'm sure factors into things. If a mere peasant had been the subject of the story it would have been a toss up between blaming the firearm & the operator.

"Gun drawn, Summerdale police officer Randy Witherington last month lowered his shoulder and burst through the door of a trailer park on Baldwin County 38 South.
The gun went off, sending a single bullet into the outside steps leading to the door. No one was hurt."

Which was fortunate for all concerned. Of course all of this could have been prevented by not serving such a warrant in such a manner to begin with, as it didn't involve a confrontational crime (as you'll see in a bit), but that's another topic.

"Coincidentally, the May 28 incident happened just two days after a Baldwin County grand jury blamed an Alabama state trooper's gun for a fatal shooting that occurred on the Causeway."

I'm sure the benevolent State Trooper did all he could to keep the evil, animate firearm from killing anyone. I mean, it wasn't the Trooper's fault that the gun willed him to put his finger on the trigger & pull now was it?

"Not coincidentally, said District Attorney David Whetstone, Trooper Angel Rodriguez and Witherington had the same kind of weapon -- a Glock pistol with a 5-pound 'trigger pull."

I have rifle that fire much more powerful ammo than handguns ever will that have trigger pulls around 3 pounds. I've never had a negligent discharge with them because I keep my finger off the trigger until I'm ready to shoot. It only takes a fraction of a second to move your finger from alongside the trigger guard onto the trigger itself & pull it. The lightness of a trigger pull shouldn't be an issue as far as the first shot is concerned. I can see valid arguments against having too light a trigger pull for certain firearms (for example under 4.5 pounds is considered unsafe in a Garand because it's too light to be certain of it not firing upon chambering a cartridge) but I honestly cannot see any arguments as being valid that contend a 5 pound trigger pull on a service handgun is unsafe. with the proper training & rewsponsibility on the part of the officer a 3 pound trigger pull would be much safer than a 10 pound trigger pull in the hands of an incompetent operator.

The article goes on about the attractiveness of 10 pound trigger pulls for a while. They seem to be inferring the Glock is not a good pistol because of its light trigger pull (by their standards). Now I'm no fan of the Glock pistols but I hate it when an invalid argument is used even aginst people or things I don't care for.

In any case, it then moves on to the following:

"The district attorney said his office continues to investigate the Summerdale incident, and he added that a grand jury may review it. But Whetstone said there was not even the 'hint' of wrongdoing by Witherington. And Riebeling said the officer has remained on duty."

He had his finger on the trigger while doing something that caused much physical effort & resulted in a loss of balance. That was negligent on the officer's part. I probably wouldn't have him fired, sicne he probably didn't violate department policy, but I would take him off the street until he could be properly trained & department policy revised.

Lemme say this again - there is a lack of proper training & clear demonstrations of negligence when an officer has an "accidental" discharge of his weapon. Unless the firearm discharged without having the trigger pulled (say it was dropped harshly onto concrete from a certain height) then the discharge was not accidental. It was negligent.

Now I agree that in such situations cops are understandably stressed & when the adreneline gets flowing the fine motor skills & at times the high level thought processes go out the window. But that's the purpose of training - repeating an activity to the point where it becomes a conditioned response not requiring fine motor skills or complex thought processes.

Oh, the reason for the officer busting down the door in the first place?

"Riebeling said his officers were searching for crack cocaine on that May morning. Although they did not find crack, he said the officers did find marijuana and cocaine residue. The occupant, President Prim, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia."

They busted down a person's door, negligently shot a firearm while doing so, all to bust the owner for marijuana & paraphernalia possession. Lovely, isn't it?
I'm no fan of crack, cocaine or many of the other substances of the week that float around. I don't even care for marijuana. But I think the dangers presented by overzealous enforcement of the drug laws far outweight the dangers these substances pose to society.

this example is one of many where a forced entry warrant was executed in the War on (Some) Drugs. It could have ended much worse for all concerned but the main point I'm trying to make isn't about the dangers of forced entry & no-knock warrants over non-confrontational crimes; it's that the operator, not the firearm is to blame the vast majority of the time an unintended shot is fired. The article concentrates on blaming the features of the firearm - features that operated exactly as they were intended to operate, & features that were funcitioning in the same manner at the training range as in the field.

it's subtle & most people wouldn't catch it, but the author of this article is leading us to believe that some firearms are simply too dangerous for even the "highly trained" police to use. Think the author would be comfy with a mere civilian who doesn't have the goverment stamp of approval owning such a dangerous weapon? Odds are neither will the readers of this article unl;ess they know a bit more about firearms than the author. This is where the media's bias against guns causes the most damage: it is built upon the ignorance of the author & relies on the ignorance of the readers to support a conclusion that lacks any substantive merit. I'm not sure if the ignorance is willful on the author's part or if it's just a result of laziness. The result is the same though: another small bit of misinformation about firearms is planted in the minds of people who just don't know any better.

It's gonna be a long year.

Posted by Publicola at June 28, 2004 08:12 PM

Is it not in fact the case that raising the trigger pull past the optimum tends to make a handgun less accurate? Tends to make the shooter jerk rather than squeeze.

Posted by: triticale at July 12, 2004 11:41 AM
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