LOS ANGELES (AP) — The number of accidental shootings by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies has more than doubled in two years as the department switches to a new handgun.
There were 12 accidental discharges of weapons in 2012 and 30 last year — most of which involved the new gun, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/1TkMK4O).
In October, a deputy tripped over a stroller and fired a bullet through the wall of a house in Huntington Park. Last November, a deputy in Lancaster shot himself in the thigh while pulling his gun. In December, a deputy in Compton accidentally pulled the trigger on his gun as he approached a suspected stolen car and a bullet hit the door. Nobody was in the car, however.
The inspector general of the Sheriff’s Department is investigating the increase in accidental firings. But sheriff’s officials attribute the increase to the learning curve for the new weapon, the Smith & Wesson M&P9.
This article popped up just as we wrapped today’s podcast. The article skews toward blaming the gun for it’s lack of a manual safety and lighter trigger. Shooters however, recognize this for what it is…A training problem made worse by inattentive shooters/officers. In other words, negligence.
Smith & Wesson’s M&P has been with us for several years now with literally millions of rounds fired by thousands of shooters across the country. And it has gone through several design/manufacturing changes over the years like any other product. It can be had with a manual safety if one so desires but, it’s often preferred to operate without said manual safety, making operation more akin to a Glock or one of the many “double-action only” pistols on the market.
Before the 92F or any of the many “wonder-nines” ushered in with the move to semiautomatic pistols in the 1980s, cops carried revolvers more often than not. And the vast majority of those revolvers were either Colt or Smith & Wesson revolvers that, like the M&P, lack a manual safety. In those days, the answer to the problem with negligent discharges was, as it is today, simply matter of learning to keep your booger-hook off the bang-switch.
Even LA County’s trainers have admitted there seems to be a correlation between negligent discharges and officers/deputies who previously used the Beretta 92FS. It seems those officers have gotten used to the trigger being “dead” while the safety is engaged or otherwise placing their fingers on triggers when it is not appropriate to do so. Yes, the trigger stroke is shorter. Yes, it is lighter. But it is neither short enough nor light enough to discharge spontaneously. It still takes a deliberate trigger stroke by the person holding the firearm. If the officer can’t exercise proper trigger-discipline, he shouldn’t be armed as he’ll eventually have a negligent discharge with any gun you give him. Fact is, some people can’t boil water without supervision and will screw up a ham sandwich given the opportunity. We cannot save them from themselves.