Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Lt. Shawn Currie [Not Shown]

 (courtesy bangordailynews.com)

“[Maine State Police Lieutenant Shawn] Currie was attending the training at the agency’s former headquarters at 36 Hospital St. when his gun belt reportedly rode up, according to a synopsis of the incident that the Bangor Daily News obtained Friday after submitting a request under the Freedom of Access Act. The gun belt ‘was causing discomfort to his hip so he pushed down on the back of the grip with an open palm after extending his right leg out in front of him. He stated that as he pushed on the back of the grip, his handgun discharged,’ Maj. Gary Wright of Maine State Police Operations wrote in his incident review report.” His handgun discharged, eh? Naughty handgun! Fortunately . . .

While no one was injured, the discharged round of ammunition ricocheted off the floor and struck Trooper Shane Northrup, who also was attending the training session, in the back of the leg, Wright wrote. Currie suffered a small powder burn on his right leg from the discharge and Northrup had a small red mark on his right leg from the ricochet, he noted.

Seems Trooper Northrop wasn’t too pleased with the sudden turn of events in computer class. According to the report, he took charge of the weapon belonging to the Commander of Troop K, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement:

Northrup removed the magazine from Currie’s firearm, an HK .45-caliber handgun, and then removed the gun from the retention holster it was secured in, the report states. Currie reported the incident to Motor Carrier Supervisor James Wright, who also was attending the training, and to Sgt. William Keith, the agency’s primary firearms instructor.

An HK .45 in a retention holster that discharges when you adjust your gun belt, press down in the grip and stretch your legs. Riiiight. Well at least the Pine Tree State state po-po waited, what, ten minutes before giving Currie another gun. No seriously.

After a cursory safety inspection and function check, Currie’s gun and holster were secured in the state police armory and he was issued replacements. Currie was advised to prepare a memo documenting the incident, which he did, the report shows.

The Maine State Police’s primary firearms instructor Sgt. William Keith did extensive tests on the gun and holster and noted that “the HK45 was not capable of firing without the trigger being drawn to the rear.” Much like, I dunno, any gun.

Which of course meant the end-of-the-line for Currie’s career in law enforcement. No more safeguarding truckers hauling nuclear waste and spent fuel. Oh wait . . .

“The report was reviewed with Lt. Currie and discussed with him and he was apprised of the findings,” [Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen] McCausland said Friday. “There was no disciplinary action.”

Luckily, the lack of career or legal blowback for a falsely reported negligent discharge does not disqualify Currie for TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day trophy. He may have dodged a bullet both literally and symbolically but we’ve got him here. Permanently.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

53 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Lt. Shawn Currie [Not Shown]

  1. avatargloomhound says:

    Perhaps it happened just as he said it did. Police holsters see a ton of use and can break down and cause malfunctions.

    • avatarPaul says:

      With all due respect, no way. This guy pressed the trigger.

      • avatargloomhound says:

        You were there and saw it? If not then there is no way you can know with the currently available information.

        • avatarHuman Being says:

          The currently available information says that the firearm was examined and had no mechanical fault.

        • avatarJ in NC says:

          So how did the holster press and pull back the trigger, with the frame trigger guard fully encircling the trigger? (Not even addressing the trigger safety aspect.) Please explain.

      • avatarTom says:

        Paul to be fair I’ve seen leather holsters (plural) cause discharges due to them going soft from years of use and folding over into the trigger guard. All it takes is a little bit of force on the gun and it can discharge.

        While I do have my doubts depending on the style and age of the holster it isn’t out of the question.

        To answer the question of how, as the leather softens with age and use the top edge can fold into the trigger guard as you reholster a firearm and as you push down on the gun it can provide just enough resistance on the trigger to make it go boom. If this was the case the officer in question IS responsible for inspecting his gear and this would be an indication that he failed to do so and should be reprimanded for it

        • avatarmatt says:

          Those are non retention holsters, and it happens when the gun begins to come out of it far enough for the edge of the leather to catch the trigger. This is not applicable here

    • avatarChuckN says:

      One of the official unofficial versions was that Currie had just gone
      to the restroom and had managed to have part of his shirt tucked into the holster. The shirt was what caught on the trigger. This story was actually floated but abandoned when no one could explain why the firearm would be removed from the holster on the duty belt, or why a MSP LT would dress like a 3 yr old.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      Even if the holster was in dangerous condition, the cop was responsible for his equipment.

    • avatarPeter says:

      Meh… I think this just proves that hk hates you and cops equally ;)

    • avatarAnonymous says:

      I agree. There could have been something wrong with his holster – there also could have been some debris or some object inside his holster with the gun. He also may have had his finger on the trigger when he pushed down on the gun. Regardless – negligent use of his firearm. He should inspect his gear regularly, keep his holster free of any crap inside, and keep his finger off the trigger.

      The gun will not go off unless that trigger is pulled. Something… caused the trigger to be pulled. If anyone is still not certain – I recommend this book:

      Fundamentals of physics – Halliday/resnick/walker.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      What kind of holster malfunction presses the trigger, HMMMM?
      Or are you simply of kindly and forgiving disposition towards bumbling, dissembling police officers?

    • avatarSteven says:

      It is possible to happen as discribed. He could have had his shirt tucked into his holster.

      It can happen, but it’s still negligent on his part. Always use extreme care when hostering a firearm.

  2. avatarRoice says:

    I like how they try to blame the gun. ATTENTION – The gun did not malfunction! If it does anything other than go “Bang” when the trigger is depressed on a loaded chamber it has malfunctioned. The weapon behaved as designed…the operator was careless.

  3. avatarPascal says:

    These stories are such BS. While they add a lot fodder for us to guffaw about, to the public it makes them believe guns are dangerous because “they magically” go off! Between Hollywood’s magical guns going off while falling down stairs, to these stories, for non-gun owners and low information types, it just adds to the “dangerous” meme.

  4. avatarST says:

    The gun belt ‘was causing discomfort to his hip so he pushed down on the back of the grip with an open palm after extending his right leg out in front of him. He stated that as he pushed on the back of the grip, his handgun discharged,’ Maj. Gary Wright of Maine State Police Operations wrote in his incident review report.” His handgun discharged, eh? Naughty handgun! Fortunately —–

    KLAXON!!!!

    Lets translate this through the Bullchit Buster 2000.

    “Maine State Police Lieutenant Shawn Currie recently purchased his HK 45 handgun and felt high on Teutonic machismo. As such he felt the need to show off his new toy to the department during the class, resulting in a negligent discharge of the firearm. Trooper Shane Northrup said “aww hell no” and took control of the weapon from the lieutenant. Due to Currie’s knowledge of the time the State Police chief cheated on his wife , this incident is officially buried in the department file drawer. No resolution will be sought or pursued”

  5. avatarracer88 says:

    No matter how detailed my explanations to non-gun people that it’s mechanically-impossible for pistols to fire without the trigger being pulled… the media accounts win in the minds of the sheeple. Guns “go off.” No expert on firearms is qualified to refute media reports.

    • avatarJim B says:

      Sorry but that simply is not true. There are many pistols that can discharge without the trigger being pulled including nearly all pre-Series 80 1911s. Simply drop them and they can discharge. Unlikely, but it has happened. Really if you’re going to lecture people you should get your facts straight.

      • avatarJohn in AK says:

        You’re parsing, now. One can MAKE many different types of gun fire by applying outside force, such as dropping. Please note that factor: OUTSIDE FORCE. By itself, left alone, untouched, a gun is as dangerous as a plastic spoon.

        • avatarJim B says:

          I was answering whomever said that a gun cannot go off unless the trigger is pulled saying that it is not true and I stand by that statement.

        • avatarAnonymous says:

          Jim,

          I can agree with that. However, it is not relevant to the discharge experienced by Mr. Currie. I believe these trigger pull statements everyone is making do not come plucked out of context based on the anatomy of a gun but from the events as portrayed in regards to Roberts post of Mr. Currie’s discharge.

        • avatarJim B says:

          I absolutely agree. My response was to the person that said a gun cannot discharge unless the trigger is pulled. This whole thing with an H&K seems…well unlikely.

  6. avatarSam says:

    Stop the monday night quarterback. I’m tired of this website second guessing every firearm related incident in the country. You were not present you do not know the facts. And this does not help further our 2nd amendment cause.

    • avatarPulatso says:

      Drawing attention to the fact that a great lie, guns “go off”, is being perpetuated, does in fact help the 2A cause. Every lie told has the chance to convince the uninformed that guns will just go off, for no reason, and are dangerous because of random discharges. I’ve met people who were afraid to even touch a loaded gun due to the belief that it could fire at any moment. These stories matter. If you want to protect guns, you have to be ready to call BS on lies told about them.

      • avatarracer88 says:

        Exactly. We don’t have to “be there” to know that a modern pistol WILL NOT FIRE UNLESS THE TRIGGER IS PULLED.

        We must be relentless in refuting these stories (as exasperating and fruitless as the efforts seem to be).

        Guns don’t fire by themselves.

        Guns don’t fire in the process of cleaning them.

        Guns don’t fire (by hitting the floor) when you drop them.

        Guns don’t “go off.” They are fired. Intentionally. By pulling the trigger. PERIOD.

        • avatarLabman says:

          Does the H&K have a hammer or firing pin block that can only be removed by pressing the trigger, like most modern handguns? I suspect it does and if so, that makes any accidental discharge argument pretty moot.

      • avatarJ in NC says:

        +100

        • avatarSammy says:

          ya got my vote for “getting to the heart of the matter”

          IMO a good post.

    • avatarNWGlocker says:

      While I agree TTAG gets too sarcastic with these posts, IGOTD helps remind me to avoid getting sloppy when it comes to gun handling. Complacency seems to be the #1 cause of a ND.

      • avatarHuman Being says:

        Complacency is one thing; anthropomorphizing your sidearm and saying “he did it” is entirely another. This is an unacceptable standard of professional veracity.

    • avatarJohn in AK says:

      You are absolutely wrong on this one, Sam. This is not ‘Monday-morning quarterbacking’, so much as it is separating fact from fiction. There is no ‘second-guessing,’ either: This man made a serious and culpable error, and his department did him and us no favour by making up a face-saving tale to explain away what nearly resulted in one or more fatalities.

      What face-saving falsehoods like this create in the minds of the uneducated is the firm message that firearms are time-bombs waiting to ‘go off’ on the unsuspecting soul that merely walks in front of one, and also serves to take away personal responsibility from negligent-discharge tragedies.

      It is our JOB as firearms people to correct misapprehensions and outright lies as quickly as possible. This careful vetting and search for truth can save lives.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      FOR REAL! I’m very concerned about armory employees. Dat gat’s out to ice somebody:

    • avatarWilliam says:

      Wow. Tell ya what. I’m happy to just pretend you never wrote that, ‘K?
      Bye.

  7. avatarTom W. says:

    Don’t want any “racial” overtones to come into play here, but does this have anything to do with the pistol being black?
    Jus’ sayin’

  8. avatarHuman Being says:

    Anyone who can falsify a report like this, and stand by it, has no business being involved in documentation of criminal incidents. He. Should. Be. Fired. The officer is a danger to the citizens he is charged to protect and the legitimacy (such as it remains these days) of the institution he must uphold. He is unfit for his chosen career.

  9. avatarPulatso says:

    The only problem is, you have to wait around until someone’s gun “goes off”. Thankfully, that happens like what, every 20 minutes or so? I sleep with a fully loaded .357 and 9mm in my nightstand, and dammed if they both haven’t fired every round of their own volition by the time I wake up.

    • avatarSammy says:

      I don’t understand how or why the gun got its muzzle behind the PO’s leg unless it was riding in a co-conspiring small of the back holster. (It’s obvious the gun didn’t act alone) The FOP must have L. Ron Hubbard or Isaac Asimov tucked away somewhere composing these “plausible” explanations for Po Po NDs. Can’t wait for the explanation of why the poor soul was killed in Hempstead, NY. by irresponsible marksmanship, where yet another felon proves gun laws cost lives.

    • avatarLabman says:

      Mine are set to go off at 06:15.

  10. avatarJAS says:

    Guns do fire when you don’t want them to. I had a Remington 700 that did just that. It fired when I clicked the safety off. All fingers around the stock grip and nowhere near the trigger. It was pointed in a safe direction so no foul. Had to get a change of underwear though.

    • avatarHuman Being says:

      That was a widespread, repeated, and documented fault in manufacture of the Remington 700. According to the article, the firearm in question was examined and found to have no fault and the spontaneous discharge could not be repeated by pressing on the back of the grip.

  11. avatarChuckN says:

    Currie isn’t getting completely off scot-free over this. This incident
    has seriously hurt MSP credibility, specifically the commercial unit
    and Currie in particular. If/when enough truck drivers refuse to
    work with Currie, he could be moved to another district or relegated
    to a desk. This actually happened 6 years ago to another LEO
    (also of the MSP commercial unit). Drivers would often request a
    local or county LEO to watch over the MSP trooper and occasionally
    flat out refuse to comply with orders. The MSP had to move the
    trooper to another area.

  12. avatarRalph says:

    Currie suffered a small powder burn on his right leg from the discharge and Northrup had a small red mark on his right leg

    They also got a month off with pay to recover from their wounds. And grief counseling. And promotions. And workers comp.

  13. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    A flexible holster could buckle inward and encounter the trigger.

    Not likely, but if the holster was less rigid than the gun – or not even the correct holster…?

    Further, pushing the gun to push the belt – there’s the negligent part. Overly stress something which is flexible… no finger on trigger required.

    There was an old copper who swallowed a fly.

  14. avatarbrian says:

    Yeah, pretty much all modern automatic pistols won’t allow the striker or the hammer to actually contact the firing pin without the trigger being pulled AND the gun being fully in battery.

    Accidental discharges do not happen. Unintentional discharges are due only to two things: negligence or defect.

  15. avatarRealitCzech says:

    It’s a cop, carrying a cop gun in a cop class… so it’s probably being open carried in a cop holster – likely a Safariland 6280 or similar, plus the article mentions it being a ‘retention holster.’
    Odds are that he was using standard police equipment. Tests show that the ‘accident’ makes no sense.
    Simplest explanation? He was reholstering (for whatever reason) with his finger on the trigger. Maybe a DAO trigger (again, it is a cop gun), maybe a DA trigger – that takes a lot of skill, right there. I’ll bet this guy could have an ND with the DA trigger on a PPK.

  16. avatarIn Memphis says:

    I wish I could relieve my supervisors of stuff every time I almost get killed in a busted and barley compliant ambulance. I bet anger and the Welt aside Northrup sort of enjoyed disarming a Leutenant.

  17. avatarMark Matis, OPF says:

    Well at least no Mere Citizen was standing in the way when the gun “accidentally” discharged. If the guy had survived, he would have been charged with interfering with the police for touching the bullet after it left the gun.

  18. avatarTierlieb says:

    While it seems that this is just a way of downplaying a negligent discharge, it is possible to make a gun fire using a retention holster: You just need to use the wrong holster for your gun. If you have a retention holster that hooks into the trigger guard, you just need enough wiggle room to push that hook against the trigger.

    That works especially well with short, light triggers and types of guns that vary a lot between models – 1911s first and foremost: The difference between the classic tapered A1 front and a heavy, blocky rail gives you some room to move the gun fore and aft, the difference between a round trigger guard and one with a finger grove gives some room to move up and down.

    Maybe someone bought the wrong holster, plain an simple (maybe mixing up the Mark 23 and the HK 45)? Not admitting a mistake is as probable for the shooter as for the quartermaster.

  19. avatarcarver says:

    He stated what force was used. Pushing the gun down. If some part of the holster or his clothing was in the way or if it was in the holster incorrectly this could cause a discharge. Why does every one want to fire a cop for a mistake? How can we get all of these perfect people to seek careers in law enforcement?

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