Walkabout In The Weminuche Wilderness

Herschel Smith · 05 Aug 2018 · 40 Comments

"There are no socialists in the bush" - HPS All of my physical training only barely prepared me for the difficulty of the Weminuche Wilderness (pronounced with the "e" silent).  It's National Forest land, not National Park.  The Department of Agriculture no longer prints maps of the area, so we relied on NatGeo for the map, and it's good, but not perfect. We have a lot of ground to cover, including traveling with firearms, the modification I made to one of my guns for the trip, the actors…… [read more]

How Safe Are Police Service Weapons?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 5 months ago

News and views from Baltimore:

BALTIMORE (WBFF) – There are two investigations centered on the gun almost all Baltimore County Police officers use as side arms. Crime and Justice Reporter Joy Lepola began investigating these guns more than 18 months ago. One of those guns went off inside a police precinct, while secured inside an officer’s holster.

On February 2, 2016, a Baltimore County police officer walks into the Pikesville Precinct when the jolt of a gunshot, stops him from taking another step. What’s unclear is how it happened.

According to reports FOX45 obtained from the county, the officer says the gun discharged while in its holster. Five officers gave statements saying they were nearby when they heard the gunshot.

The department says it is unaware of a holstered gun ever discharging until now. The department was warned it could happen.

In 2014, a FOX45 investigation uncovered serious safety concerns buried within hundreds of reports and inter-office emails. At the time, the county was in the process of buying new guns for every police officer, almost 2,000 .40 caliber pistols made by FN-America. In one complaint, an officer claimed a round went off without someone’s finger on the trigger.

Oh dear.  Okay, before we begin the “guns don’t just go off” routine, let’s stipulate right up front that there are three types of discharges.  (1) intentional, (2) negligent, and (3) due to mechanical malfunctions.  Number (3) does in fact happen, when there is a very bad design flaw, or perhaps in older firearms models if a firing pin got stuck and cycling the slide causes a “slam fire,” to name one specific malfunction.

Number (3) is also very, very unlikely, and a low probability scenario.  Furthermore, the notion of a gun discharging while sitting in the holster (with no human interaction) is ridiculous.  The officer likely put his finger on the trigger and caused a negligent discharge, was embarrassed about it, didn’t want to be reprimanded or lose his job, and fabricated a false story to hide the truth.

If a gun ever discharges without your finger on the trigger (think Remington 700 by cycling the bolt, a failure Remington documented dozens of time at their own facilities), go see a Gunsmith.  Don’t write discussion threads, don’t make allegations, don’t hide it.  Go see a Gunsmith.  Not an armorer, not a parts changer.  A Gunsmith.  If it’s a mechanical failure, it will be repeatable.  If not, you put your finger on the trigger when you shouldn’t have.

How safe are police service weapons?  Never.  It is a gun.  It isn’t safe.  Don’t ever treat it as if it’s inherently safe, any more than you would assume that you can drive an automobile just any way you wish and be safe because of the structure surrounding you.  It is a car.  It isn’t safe.  Sitting still on your bar stool at home isn’t safe because it may fail and send you to the floor, bruising or even fracturing your pelvis.  It is a chair.  It isn’t safe.  If you have to climb ladders, you engage in one of the most unsafe practices in America, often fatal (or leading to TBI) for men over 55 years old from any height.

But weapons are safer when people use them responsibly than when they don’t.

Man “Accidentally” Fires His Gun In Airport

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 1 month ago

Houston.com:

The man whose gun accidentally went off inside Bush Intercontinental Airport Monday made his first court appearance.

Investigators said Joseph Austin was at the Delta Airlines ticket counter in Terminal A when he noticed his pistol was still loaded. Austin, 45, was trying to unload the gun when it fired.

Police said the fragment nicked a man’s leg but did not break the skin. The man was able to continue on his flight.

Austin, who was traveling back to Kansas after visiting friends in Houston, was immediately taken into custody and charged with misdemeanor deadly conduct.

Austin posted a $1,000 bond.

The Transportation and Safety Authority requires a gun and ammunition to be separated, and the gun in a locked case, before they allow the weapon to be checked in with luggage and loaded on a plane.

Actually, he put his finger on the trigger of the weapon where it didn’t belong, and he pulled it.  There.  Fixed it.  Actually, the whole problem began when … ahem … he “noticed” that his pistol was still loaded.  I’ve said it before.  If you cannot have someone blindfold you at the door of your home, and follow you as you locate every weapon in your home and state from memory whether it is loaded and a round is chambered, you should sell your guns.

Be a mature and responsible gun owner and things will go better for you.  That’s just my personal view, not legal advice.

Man Shoots Himself In The Groin With Pistol

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 1 month ago

Lancaster Online:

A 25 year old man accidentally shot himself in the groin at his Lancaster Township home Sunday, police said.

He picked up his .40-caliber pistol to put it away when the weapon accidentally discharged the bullet into his groin area, Sgt. Timothy Ponessa said Monday.

The man was taken to Lancaster General Hospital with an injury that was not life-threatening, police said.

Gosh, I hate it when that happens.  I remember the last time I shot myself in the groin.  From the comments, the negligent discharges might just be beginning for him.

But just to correct the report, he picked up the weapon, put his finger on the trigger where it didn’t belong, and pointed the weapon in an unsafe direction.

There.  Fixed.

SWAT Commander Has Accidental Discharge At Town Hall

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 5 months ago

News from Tennessee:

An accidental police gunshot into lobby carpet at Town Hall startled officials attending a Town Council workshop Thursday night.

No one was injured after the weapon of Lt. Earl Barnes, the SWAT team commander, discharged after he tied his shoes in a chair in a lobby area. Doors were open next to the meeting room while his boss, Police Chief Kevin Arnold, was explaining upcoming training for his records office to elected officials.

“When it first happened, I thought it was one of these light bulbs (in the ceiling) that burst,” Arnold said during an interview Friday in the same meeting room.

After hearing the gunshot, the chief moved quickly from his seat in the meeting room that was closest to the door, reached for his holster and even thought it was possible an intruder had sneaked through the back door of Town Hall and shot Barnes.

“My main concern was not only him but ‘do we have a situation developing here,'” said the chief, who was relieved to see the lieutenant who usually provides security detail for Town Council meetings was unharmed. “Police officers are trained to go to the threat. It was very brief. He said, ‘I had an accidental discharge.'”

The kind of “accidental discharge” he had was preventable (well, I guess they all are).  Seriously though, they did have quite the “situation developing here.”  The chief pulled the trigger of his weapon in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But it gets even worse and weirder.

Lt. Barnes asked if he could go home after the incident, and the chief agreed.

“He was very embarrassed,” said Arnold, who estimated that Barnes has served with Smyrna Police for more than 25 years. “He’s an outstanding officer, but unfortunately, he made a mistake.”

The chief said Barnes will face discipline to be determined after Arnold discusses the gun discharge with Human Resources staff and Town Manager Harry Gill.

“It will usually be several days of suspension without pay,” Arnold said. “We are very lucky Lt. Barnes wasn’t injured. We’re very lucky that no citizens were injured, and no members of staff and no members of council were injured.”

Barnes made two mistakes, the chief said. One included Barnes failing to snap his holster to ensure the weapon would remain in place after he had used his pistol as part of a felony traffic stop to arrest a man accused of armed robbery of a gas station/convenience store at 33 N. Lowry.

“What we think happened is he didn’t snap it down enough in place,” Arnold said.

The other mistake came after Barnes sat down to tie his shoes and then reached for his gun when the pistol fell out of his holster.

Yea, I’ll bet he wanted to go home.  Listen to me very carefully so that you don’t act like the man in the article.  If your gun is falling and you have a round chambered, do not ever try to catch it.  Ever.  Ever.  I’ll leave it to the readers to explain why in the context of grip safeties, trigger brush guards, etc.

“We train our officers several times a year in using these weapons,” said Arnold, adding that his officers are expected to be armed and ready to shoot. “Unfortunately, we’re in the line of work where we have to carry weapons.”

Arnold said Barnes did what would be human nature to reach for something that was falling and forgetting the training to let the gun drop to the ground.

“Unfortunately, he made the mistake, and we are held accountable for our actions,” the chief said. “I have accidentally dropped mine at home. I cringed. It didn’t go off.”

A 25-year officer with Smyrna who has been chief for eight years, Arnold said his department has had four or five incidents involving officer guns firing by mistake. Only one of those in 1998 involved an injury to Officer Muhammad Ali (formerly known as Robert Ladell Haynes).

“He almost died,” Arnold said.

My God.  It looks like this department needs to be rid of their weapons before someone gets hurt even worse.  At least the (nearly lethal) negligent discharge didn’t happen to an artist formerly known as Prince.  Then I might think they were making this whole thing up.  It almost looks like that anyway.

Another Cop’s Gun Just “Goes Off”

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 1 month ago

Miami-Herald:

A Sweewater police officer was recovering Monday after his holstered gun discharged and hit him in the leg while he was chasing shoplifting suspects at Dolphin Mall.

The officer, Joel Bosque, was responding to a shoplifting report at the mall when he was injured. He was taken to the hospital and is “doing fine,” police spokesman Jorge Fernandez de Lara said.

Bosque, who has been with the department for a year, will likely be placed on administrative leave while Miami-Dade police investigate.

The incident happened on Sunday after four suspects took off through the sprawling mall, 11401 NW 12th St., from the Burlington Coat Factory.

According to police, four men were spotted shoplifting in the store by a loss prevention officer. When the officer tried to stop them, they took off in different directions.

Bosque and another officer were able to catch one of the four. The three others are still at large.

Darius Brown, 18, was charged with felony theft, robbery and resisting without violence.

Bosque’s gun went off while it was in his holster, police said.

There should be no need to rehearse what we’ve said so many times before.  Guns don’t just “go off.”  More than likely (almost certainly) he had his finger on the trigger of his weapon and stumbled, causing his finger to squeeze due to sympathetic muscle reflexes.  See my description here for more details.

The real issue here is that the officer was reaching for his weapon and had his finger on the trigger while chasing a fleeing suspect.  Now go back and read the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee Versus Garner to see if he should really be doing that.  Fill in the comments section with your homework.

Prior:

Gun-Mounted Flashlights Linked To Accidental Shootings

Chicago SWAT Raid Gone Terribly Wrong

The Moral Case Against SWAT Raids

More ‘Only One’ Negligent Discharges

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 2 months ago

News from Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh police are reviewing an incident in which they say an officer accidentally fired a gun while chasing a suspect in Crafton Heights, an official said on Tuesday.

Public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said Detective Martin Kail accidentally fired his gun when he fell while pursuing a suspect on foot about 9:40 p.m. May 21 in the 1400 block of Crucible Street.

No one was hurt.

“No one was shot, no one was injured,” Toler said.

She did not know what prompted Kail, a member of the narcotics and vice squad, to chase after the suspect.

Toler said the suspect was not apprehended.

Supervisors were notified of the incident and arrived at the scene, she said.

Kail was hired in 2007, records show.

Officer Howard McQuillan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, the labor union that represents city police officers, declined to comment.

Yea, I’ll bet he “declined to comment.”  Notice the term accidental.  I suspect another example of negligent discharge because someone stumbled with their finger on the trigger, squeezing due to sympathetic muscle reflex, which I discussed here again.

Can’t they at least train these guys at the same level as we civilians?


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