Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Stop Touching It!", Episode No. Whatever

I'm sure by now everybody's seen the news video of the small town Hoosier police chief busting a cap into his own leg. Thanks to the cooperation of the chief in question and the gun store where it happened, the video of the incident has been made available and is quite instructive, like a sort of Goofus and Gallant Gun Safety Video, only without the Gallant.

Let it be a reminder to yourself to keep that mental video camera running and recording your own gun-handling procedures for constant scrutiny. Unless, of course, you're the kind of person who doesn't make mistakes.

The time tags below are from the linked RTV6 video:
0:35 I'd feel a lot better if the gentleman behind the counter passed the firearm over like it was a deadly weapon and not a can of soup, perhaps with the slide locked back and the muzzle pointing down. Maybe I'm just sensitive about .380s in gun shops?
0:39 Going to lock the slide back, the chief drops the mag in the Glock 42 and then muzzles the bejeezus out of his off-side paw by reaching over the top of the loud end to run the slide. Considering the chief put a bullet through his own mitt in this fashion some years back, this seems to reinforce the saw about teaching old dogs new tricks.
0:49 Presses muzzle of Glock 42 against his weak hand. Granted, he just checked the chamber, but why? Why would you perform that motion with a pistol, loaded or not? What does it do except instill bad habits? I mean, I avoid casually doing that with blue guns for the simple reason that I want my right hand to be really nervous about what's going on whenever it has something that feels like a gun in it.
0:52 The chief draws his off-duty gun, a Glock 23, ostensibly to check the size of it against the 42. Again, WHY? You're in a gun store! There are probably half a dozen Glock 19/23/32s in the showcase you could use for the size comparison, so there's no need to clear leather with a loaded gat on the showroom floor. Stop touching it! Bonus points for appearing to muzzle his off paw again, this time with a loaded .40.
0:55 Chief goes to holster the gun again. No attempt is made to make a visual or tactile check of the holster's mouth. The off hand is not used to lift the hem of the jacket. Instead, vague motions with the muzzle of the gun are used to get it into the holster.
1:00 Realizing his gun may not be seated and that his jacket feels bunched up, the chief now pulls up on the hem of the garment, causing the toggle on the waist drawstring, which had been holstered along with the gun, to pull the trigger, giving the chief a .4" racing stripe down his starboard butt cheek.
So, lessons learned:
  1. Handle all guns like guns. Even the ones in the showcase.
  2. Don't point guns at yourself.
  3. No, seriously, don't do that.
  4. Stop touching it! Leave your loaded gat in the holster!
  5. You need to be able to verify by sight and/or feel that your holster mouth is clear before putting your gun away, and you need to be able to do this without pointing a gun at any part of your body. How you do this is going to vary with body type, carry method, and cover garment, but you need to figure out how to do it.
  6. If you feel any resistance when holstering, for the sake of Baby Odin, stop and start over again when you have un-****ed whatever was wrong.
  7. Cut the drawstrings off any garment you're likely to wear while carrying a pistol in a waist-level holster. Strings and triggers don't mix.
(And before everybody goes all "Ooh! GlockGlockGlock!", in the good ol' days this was caused by the straps on thumbbreak holsters getting into the trigger guards of double-action revolvers.)

46 comments:

Joseph said...

Kudos to those involved in this piece. I usually roll my eyes when this particular reporter comes on screen, but this was a pretty good piece and is, you know, informative to the general public. Unheard of on a news channel these days.

Bram said...

I personally don't feel comfortable with trigger safety only guns. Just me.

Windy Wilson said...

As usual, your analysis is impeccable.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see a thoughtful post emphasizing safety with several good examples of not what to do.

Gewehr98 said...

3rd time's a charm!

The Raving Prophet said...

Safety reminders- always welcome. Especially when they're delivered with a "what we can learn from this" attitude and not a "You miserable sack of ignorance" attitude.

Anonymous said...

And yet, the whole 'GLOCK GLOCK GLOCK" bit is true.

Not a real safety when it is on the bangswitch.

Now, I like GLOCKs. Don't own one, but they work....But a grip or thumb safety WOULD prevent this.

Of course, familiarity breeds contempt, as we see in the video.

And the best safety is, of course between the ears (for most people anyway).

NewJerseyThomas said...

My Dept. used to have a range officer who would yell at you for looking while re-holstering. He said that it meant that you were taking your eyes off the imaginary suspect in front of you. My point that I would never re-holster until the scene was secure, and that the real gun in my hand was more dangerous than an imaginary suspect, never really convinced him.

I wonder if this chief recieved similar "training" back in the day.

Mr. Engineering Johnson said...

Excellent breakdown of how simple thoughtless actions (and the bad habits that encourage them) can hurt you. This pretty much confirms what I've always thought about choosing a holster. If you're going to holster something that can go off with a simple trigger pull then for Pete sake get a holster that's easy to take on and off so you're not pointing the business end at yourself.

Boyd K said...

Several commercial schools teach that you sweep and holster while continuing to assess (ie scan for threats). I've never looked at my holster while re seating the gun, like Mas said, I sweep my off hand across and up and the firearm goes in without touching a thing. If it touches anything, I can -feel- that. Then I can stop, resweep and if necessary look. Haven't had to yet.

Paul said...

Anything can work the trigger if it has the correct dynamic and sufficient force.

Good on you for the safety tip.

Ian Argent said...

Rule 7 can be significantly truncated - drawstrings are dangerous in all sorts of manners; better to remove them.

Leatherwing said...

I was going to make fun of the reporter (for his Minority Report treatment of various state graphics). But then he won me over at the end, when he cut the drawstring off the jacket he said "you've just reduced the risk". Risk is not eliminated, it is managed

That Guy said...

"Handle all guns like guns. Even the ones in the showcase."

I went to a gunstore at lunch and was muzzled about 20 times in 10 minutes. the worst was a 7-08 Lone Eagle handgun... Freaked me out.

Geodkyt said...

NewJerseyThomas --

Yup, no bet. "Tactical reholstering" is so prominent that it is almost guaranteed this chief was trained to do it that way.

Of course, training a uniformed officer to reholster one handed without looking at least makes some sense. If he's alone and Sumdood gives up when he realizes he's looking down the wrong end of the ballistic drill bit, I can see not wanting to take my eyes off the subject while reholstering before moving in with the Complementary Gift Bracelets. But, that's easier with a duty holster, on a duty belt, as opposed to your concealment rig.

Of course, when I was taught to do that (albeit as a Rent-a-Cop), I was instructed, "Put his ass on the ground, facing away from you, first! And keep your gun hand free until you actually lay hands on, just in case." by my instructor - a retired (LOD disabled) police lieutenant. Notice that this doesn;t preclude checking the holster before stuff the gat away.

Anonymous said...

This is one reason I like an external hammer (on a revolver, DA pistol, SA pistol, etc). I can "ride" the hammer down with my thumb. In DA, I'll feel the hammer try to pull back if anything impedes the trigger. For a cocked-and-locked 1911, that hammer's not going forward on me either.

Robert Fowler said...

I wish I could say I was perfect, but I can't. In the 50 years I have been shooting, I have had 2 ND's. One when I was 12 and the other when I was 50. Not a perfect record, but at least no one was hurt.

snoopycomputer said...

Always look at your holster when re-holstering.
"No, you no-look because there might still be threats out there!" Then the gun should stay out, duuuh....
"But I'm just in the gun shop..." Then there's nothing distracting you from performing a perfect reholster.

Tam, pretty please submit your post as an editorial to the local papers/news there.

Ed said...

I have been within spitting distance of someone who did a .357 Magnum revolver ND because of a reholstering. The flash disrupts your night vision. The bang makes your ears ring. And the round makes nasty holes going in and leaving the leg. Luckily, in this ND the round did not expand, traversing the calf from below the knee to above the ankle without touching bone, and the wound did not get infected. However, the local State Police were not impressed, seized the weapon and holster, and revoked his state-issued license to carry firearms. So much for Second Amendment "rights", as I have observed that local police officers that did something similar were treated differently.

Heather said...

As my first pistol instructor liked to say.. "No one ever won a gun fight by reholstering the fastest."

billf said...

Tam,Thanks for doing what you do.Well written observations.
Also,I may be a cold old fart,but sometimes I wish all these examples of unsafe behavior resulted in shootings that cleaned up the gene pool.There are certainly enough mods to the gene pool in the other (undesirable) direction.

Kristophr said...

Ian Argent: Or just tie the damned thing off, trim it, and push the knot into the seam.

You generally only adjust the string once anyway.

Anonymous said...

wow.. guess we all can be Monday Morning Quarterbacks....

Tam said...

Anonymouse,

"wow.. guess we all can be Monday Morning Quarterbacks...."

"Monday Morning Quarterbacking"? What kind of retarded quarterback doesn't watch and critique game films?

Old NFO said...

All your points are dead on, and ANOTHER reason to cut those damn toggles off any garment you wear when carrying... And the whole holstering thing had me cringing...

Ian Argent said...

@Kristophr: As long as it doesn't leave flappy ends to be ingested by spinning motors, get caught on protruding hooks, poles, etc; whatever works.

tailwind said...

Just remember, only the Police are sufficiently trained to properly handle firearms. Mere civilians are completely unqualified to be entrusted with deadly weapons such as guns.

burkdoggy said...

You carry the thing all day every day, yet you still need to pull it out to compare? DUH! It's little, dumb@ss. Makes me sick. Talk about reckless endangerment. Ought to be suspended from carrying a side arm for 30 days or so.

Kristophr said...

Anonymous:

Wise people learn from the mistakes of others if possible, instead of learning from their own mistakes.

In fact, this is SOP for pilots, since flying mistakes are often more fatal than firearms mistakes.

So, yea, we Monday morning quarterback. Deal with it.

Kristophr said...

Tam:

Maybe Anonymous is from a victim-disarmament crap-hole?

If he is a subject who is forbidden arms, and not a citizen, then he probably assumes that all persons who comment about cop firearms mistakes don't carry firearms as well.

Sigman said...

Wait, this guy has now shot himself twice?!???? I think I would take this as a sign. Once is accidental/negligent, I have to think twice is getting toward deliberate indifference. Especially watching his gat handling display.

James Sullivan said...

NewJerseyThomas,

That's one of the things that bugs me at every requalification. Why on Earth can't I look at my holster? There's a bad guy in front of me? Then why am I reholstering?

I suppose if I were to devote some imagination and time to it, I might dream up some convoluted reason to do just that. But tactics are the things we learn for the majority of the time, not the exceptions.

At least, that's how I see it. I could be wrong.

Bob said...

(And before everybody goes all "Ooh! GlockGlockGlock!", in the good ol' days this was caused by the straps on thumbbreak holsters getting into the trigger guards of double-action revolvers.)

Are there any studies comparing ND's in the revolver era compared to both the DA autopistol and striker-fired pistol era?

CMac said...

Don't know of any studies, but wouldn't be surprised to find that ND's have gone up since the introduction of the Glocks. Never could understand how anyone thought that the Glock action was safe when it doesn't have a safety at all. A safety keeps the gun from firing when the trigger is pulled, the Glock trigger lever can't do that so it isn't a safety, to me it's similar to a hammer block or a trasnfer bar, so,ething that keeps the gun from going off if you drop it. I remember when the police dept's started adopting Glocks, and those old detectives had to turn in their Colt and S&W snubbies with cut-out holsters for a glock and a retention holster; and how so many of them shot themselves holstering the gun as they had picked up the bad habit of having their finger on the trigger while holstering. You can get away with it with a revolver and a cutout holster, not with a Glock and a retention holster.
Glock sure did a great snow, er "sales" job calling it the "Safe-Action" and claiming it was safer than guns with safeties.

Tam said...

CMac,

Where's the safety on those Colt and S&W snubbies you were talking about? Or on a Smith Model 10? Or a Beretta 96D? Or a SIG P-226? Or a Smith 5946? Or an HK USP LEM?

In fact, commenters who are focusing on the lack of manual safeties are chasing a red herring, since they were only on the majority of LE sidearms for a fairly brief period.

Anonymous said...

Just about every ND thread will have someone object to the safety principle of minimizing unnecessary gun handling. The "thinking" usually goes like this: I'm very well safety trained, so I can handle guns safely, therefore I can handle guns unnecessarily all day long forever and nothing bad is ever going to happen." Looks like there was a variant of this guy in the comments over at pistol-training.com

I'm in a family of pilots and healthcare people, and it's interesting to see the different safety cultures of these two industries. Coming out of WWII, both had a superhero complex and thought they were Special people doing this Special job, and therefore if you ever made a mistake you should get kicked out of the profession because obviously you just aren't Special enough.

The pilots started rethinking this in the 70s, and have throughly come around to a culture of "Hey, we're humans. We're prone to screw up. Let's try to set things up so we minimize the opportunities to screw up, and minimize the consequences of screw ups should they occur (which we know they will)."

It wasn't until the early 00's that healthcare started to adopt some of this thinking, and we're still not completely there yet.

My theory about why pilots embraced the "we're fallible" mindset quicker than healthcare: when we screw up in healthcare, the customer dies. When they screw up in aviation, they die right alongside the customers.

Alath
Carmel IN

Tam said...

Alath,

Excellent comment. May I make a post out of it, with proper attribution?

Anonymous said...

'Course Tam, I'm honored.
Alath

Geodkyt said...

Tam -- the difference between Glocks not having a manual safety, and the typical police revolvers (lest someone quickly point out the rara avis wheelguns that had safeties) or hammer fired DA/SA and DAO semiautos that either have no manual safety, or were carried with the safety off, are simple distinctions:

1. Length of trigger pull

2. Weight of trigger pull

Glocks are shorter and lighter than Model 10s, Beretta 96Ds, P226's, etc. It takes much less effort (and therefor it is much easier) to light one off from a Glock.

Heck, a major part of the Glock's attraction was the trigger that was lighter and shorter than traditional DA revolvers and semiautos meant it was easier to shoot, becuase it shoots more like an SA semi!

Tam said...

Geodkyt,

I am intimately familiar with the mechanics and operation of the pistols described, yes.

Cargosquid said...

Ummmm..... your mileage may vary, but around here if someone pulls a loaded gun from a holster in a gun store....bad reactions occur.

Is this yet ANOTHER example of certain people being granted privileges?

Geodkyt said...

Tam,

I know you are. Which is why your comments that seem to imply that Glocks are no different in terms of susceptibility to this particular OOPSIE! are no different guns that had longer and heavier triggers mystify me.

Look, I like Glocks and other striker fired Plastic Fantasics. I also accept the fact that the inherent nature of the design renders it more likely to this type of ND than other designs.

Tam said...

Geodkyt,

"Which is why your comments that seem to imply that Glocks are no different in terms of susceptibility"

Nowhere did I say that. I DID go on a tear about the "Ooh! Glock Bad!" crowd as though it were a difference of KIND, not DEGREE.

I get torqued at the "Ooh! No manual safety!" argument because, even leaving revolvers aside, I'd say that the solid majority of police guns in this country have been without manual safeties for a long time: LEM HKs, SIGs (both regular and DAK), S&W M&Ps and DAO 3rd Gen Autos, "D" and "G" Berettas. Some of those pistols have triggers lighter and with as short a travel as the Glock, but the internet pipe-smokers are latched onto the "GLOCK!" buzzword like geriatric pit bulls.

At another comment thread someone made a comparison to a cocked Tokarev, which is different in degree in that it has even less trigger travel and weight of pull than the typical LE Glock, but also different in kind, in that it is devoid of passive safeties and, indeed, the mechanism is fully cocked, containing all the energy needed to bust a cap, unlike the aforementioned Glock (but like an XD or M&P).

Yes, a TDA has a greater margin for error against the type of ND in the article, but it's a much tinier margin than the internet seems to think.

Tam said...

Cargosquid,

"Ummmm..... your mileage may vary, but around here if someone pulls a loaded gun from a holster in a gun store....bad reactions occur.

Is this yet ANOTHER example of certain people being granted privileges?
"

Having spent nearly fifteen years behind the glass, I envy your gun stores around there. If I had a dollar for every time Cletus or Lurleen whipped it out on the showroom floor, no badge required, I could retire. Er, retire-er. ;)

Cargosquid said...

Tam....

Let me put it this way...

I have NOWHERE near your time in a gun store...so, I notice a strong implication in my local gun shops that one might get shot if you pull a loaded gun out....especially since the signs on the door usually state, "no loaded guns"

Of course, that doesn't mean those loaded guns that are broken in some way and cannot be unloaded.

Tam said...

People whip their gats out to see how they fit in holsters, to show you their new grips, to check and see if the fir in a gun rug, to ask if you'll put these Hogues on...

And this is with the PLEASE NO HANDLING OF LOADED FIREARMS sign on the door at eye level where they had to walk past it to get in.