Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Officer William Scott Kern

 Officer William Kern (courtesy baltimore.cbslocal.com)

When anti-gunners argue that the police are OK to carry firearms that they’d ban from private use—because cops are trained to handle the responsibilityI just laugh. I think about the cops I’ve seen shooting at the gun range and I laugh and laugh until my sides are sore. Until my heart is sore, for all the Americans denied their gun rights. Law-abiding, peaceful, God fearing, taxpaying citizens left defenseless by power-crazed utopians who don’t or won’t understand that a disarmed populace is prey to tyrannical thugs who answer to no law except their own. People like . . . the Baltimore police . . .

The Baltimore police supervisor who shot a recruit during an unauthorized training exercise in Owings Mills was expected to have a live firearm, his lawyer says in court documents, while acknowledging that he meant to pick up and fire a practice pistol instead . . .

Simunitions training protocol mandates a double-checked sterile environment. No “live guns,” clearly marked Simunitions-enabled firearms, a range safety officer checking all firearms and enforcing standardized training procedure (e.g., retrieving all Simunitions-enabled guns after each training scenario), etc.

In fact, General Dynamics won’t sell a department their non-lethal ammo until the person in charge has completed a course detailing all the safety procedures. Which the Baltimore cops, in their infinite arrogance, felt free to ignore. And how.

[Officer William Scott Kern's attorney, Shaun F.] Owens said in court documents his client was permitted to carry his live weapon, along with the simunition gun. The documents also say Kern was carrying his live weapon in a holster on his waistband and that simunition training guns may have been tucked into a pocket or waistband.

So Kern was carrying at least two guns: a live gun in his holster and one or two Simunitions guns in his waistband. Yeah, that’s a man who gives a damn about gun safety. As for meaning to shoot the Simunition gun at Maryland police recruit Raymond Gray’s head, rather than a gun with a bullet in the chamber, they weren’t even training at the time.

The court documents filed by the defense attorney do not say why Kern shot at the victim.

People with knowledge of the investigation have said Gray was peering through a window when Kern fired at him. They said the shot may not have been fired as part of the training exercise but that Kern playfully pointed his weapon without intent to harm anybody . . .

Gray was shot in the head and blinded in one eye; he was hospitalized for months.

I’m guessing Gray wasn’t wearing Simunition standard protective headgear when Officer Kern shot him in the noggin. His “mistake” was an attempt to shoot Gray in the face with a Siminution round—a grave threat to Gray’s eyesight if not his life. As any Simunition trainer would know. Speaking of which . . .

Who, exactly, “expected” Officer Kern to carry a live weapon into a Simunition exercise? Who “permitted” Officer Kern to carry a live weapon into a Simunition exercise? Chances are we’ll never know. Kern’s attorney will cut a deal with the County Prosecutor to spare his superiors embarrassment. Can you say ‘slap on the wrist?’

Done. The charges have already been walked down to second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors. As for accountability . . .

Baltimore police have acknowledged commanders were not aware of the exercises at the facility and that the city did not have permission to use the state-owned site. As a result of the incident, six academy officials were suspended and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts briefly suspended training exercises.

Kern’s supervisors didn’t know about previous “active shooter” exercises at the shuttered loony bin? If we buy that, we have to accept the fact that the Baltimore PD have been conducting secret training sessions, trespassing, ignoring all safety protocols, and then shooting each other in the head with Simunition rounds for fun. How great is that?

More to the point, for how long were the Simunition training sessions suspended? What changes were made to make sure that another aspiring officer isn’t permanently disfigured? Were the offending officers suspended with or without pay? Were they returned to their duties or reassigned? May we have their names please? ‘Cause if one of us “helped” someone shoot someone in the head I don’t think our names would be withheld from public view.

Luckily, there’s a civil case against Kerns as well, so the truth may come out. Worst case scenario for the BPD: some bad ink and a payout of taxpayer money.

Kern is the third officer being prosecuted by the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office this year.

In June, a Baltimore County police officer was acquitted in the death of a Randallstown teenager last year. Another county officer entered a guilty plea in July to misconduct in office after an investigation found he filmed himself engaging in sex acts and neglected calls while on duty.

There are bad apples in every barrel. There are plenty of hard-working cops who put their lives on the line for the public good. Brave men and women who serve and protect. Moral, upstanding individuals working for well-run police departments.

But anyone who thinks that only cops should be armed because they’re “better” than us is either ignorant or willfully ignorant. Just as familiarity breeds contempt, elitism enables irresponsibility. To say the least.

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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.

44 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Officer William Scott Kern

  1. avatarPig humper says:

    Tell me again why cops get to carry pretty anywhere but I dont?

    • avatarRalph says:

      Because they are agents of the almighty State and you are just a subject.

    • avatarHenry Bowman says:

      Two words: Praetorian Guards

      • avatarHasdrubal says:

        I’ll quit if that happens, there’s no way I’m going to wear a leather skirt and headgear with a horsehair crest on it.

        Seriously, though, the older I get, the more I think carry restrictions are ridiculous. And with a child going to school in a few years, it’s not making me happy.

        And as far as this story goes, it’s even more ridiculous than a gun free zone, if that were possible. Someone always has to act cool and screw everything up because they wanted you to know how great they are. No place for that anywhere, much less around weapons, and the only difference the uniform makes is that we’re supposed to be held to a higher standard.

        And yes, I know full well that doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

      • avatarDJ says:

        The problem with having Praetorian guards is that the start to believe that they should be the ones to select the new Emperor. The Roman Empire learned that the hard way.

  2. Maybe it is a matter of perception, maybe it is a matter of density, but why does it seem (to me) that we hear about these things in the ‘Tight Gun Control’ cities and not so much where there are larger percentages of responsible gun owners allowed to exist.

    • avatarJay1987 says:

      Because most people in gun friendly areas have a respect for firearms that is absent in less friendly areas well that and we aren’t dumb enough to do somethin like that.

    • avatartdiinvaThe says:

      Cops are drawn from the general population. In gun friendly communities the are more gun guy types on the force than in a place like Chicago where only criminals have guns.

  3. avatarRob says:

    Only cops should have guns!

    • avatarNYC2AZ says:

      “Only cops should have guns… at this stage in the civilian disarmament agenda. Subject to change at a later date.”

      ftfy

  4. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    Y’know, I’ll bet than in firearm-friendly places the general populace from which LEOs are recruited offers a better quality of candidate, in turn yielding better officers.

    You just don’t hear about this sort of sh¡t happening in Laramie, Topeka or Salt Lake City…

    Am I mistaken?

    • avatarTilefloor says:

      I agree, the department I work for has this irritating habit of importing half of each academy class from upstate NY, especially buffalo, and most of them come in never having handled a firearm before. The community I live in is EXTREMELY pro gun, and I have noticed the ones who come from around this area are much less likely to remotely impede a citizens gun rights in the name of “officer safety.”

  5. avatarPhil L says:

    As it turns out, this incident occurred near my son’s school (by “near” I mean “within 9mm range”).

    Even with the limited information that was released at the time (this took place last February), it was obvious that serious errors were made that were completely avoidable by simply following basic rules. It’s showing up in the local news again as both sides lawyer up for the trial, scheduled to start later this month.

    At the time, school parents were told “…the property is used for K-9 and other training that does not involve live ammunition; this incident was an anomaly and is still under investigation.”

    The whole thing didn’t inspire much confidence that they know what they’re doing.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      Baltimore PD is good at dragging parents out of school board meetings when they express their opinions on curriculum. So, I guess free speech poses a serious threat at schools, whereas jackasses horsing around with loaded weapons is OK. Got it.

      [yeah, the comment is unfair, but I've read too much leftist sh!t recently. Guess the style is starting to rub off]

    • avatarRoscoe says:

      “Still under investigation” until the brass and pols think it safe to quietly sweep the incident away.

  6. avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

    Moral of the story (for long term action): vote statist politicians out of office.

    Moral of the story (for immediate action): avoid cities under the sway of statists whenever possible.

  7. avatarTJ says:

    Baltimore is corrupt through and through. I wouldn’t be surprised that cops feel like they can get away with whatever they want.

  8. avatarLarry says:

    They should say “only the cops that will take orders from us should have guns”. That’s what they really want.

  9. avatarBob4 says:

    Same scenario, different place. An Oregon LEO accidentally grabbed a mag full of live ammunition, and shot a fellow officer while training with submunition rounds. I think this happened a few years ago. It happened at a National Guard training facility. Too bad it hadnt happened on an USAF base, for we probably would have arrested the civilian LEO, then banned the police department from the training facility for life.

    • avatarTilefloor says:

      My national guard unit had a similar incident happen, except it was an e6 who fired the weapon with live round, not an LEO

  10. avatardumbfounded says:

    Being a Baltimorean, this one hits close to home. As much as I enjoy this blog I must take issue and try to correct the assertion that officer Kern is a “tyrannical thug” or “power-crazed utopian.”

    I do not know this officer personally, however the information I’ve been able to obtain locally, in Baltimore, does not contradict that he could easily fall more into the category of “hard-working cops who put their life on the line for the public good. Brave men and women who serve and protect. Moral, upstanding individuals…”.

    In other words, with the exception of this one, cavalier, reckless, completely irresponsible act I haven’t heard of anything that would suggest he’s the monster you depict. The word is he was an enthusiastic supervisor, with a good track record, working with his fellow cops to improve combat effectiveness etc. In fact, there’s information to suggest that they may have been “off the grid” – training at a time and place not completely sanctioned by the city’s or state’s bureaucracies. In other words, possibly above and beyond the call of duty (but I am speculating and not certain). Just as well, the state’s civil suit could very well be an act of scapegoating. It wouldn’t be out of character – but again I’m just trying to share the sense that sometimes things are not what they may seem.

    I’m not proud of it but I’ve had my fare share of interaction with men in blue in all kinds of states and jurisdictions including Baltimore City and County. Baltimore cops, for the most part, have always given me a fair shake. We have allot of corruption and out-right criminal activity within the Baltimore city police force. It needs to be addressed. But, keep in mind we also have allot of lead flying around this city. Allot. This ain’t Rhode Island. Listen to the police scanner on any given day and you’ll get a feel for the unrelenting tide of violence… domestic, gang, drug, you name it. Mix in all the other crap cops deal with, their compensation, and uninformed attacks on their character and it just seems to be one of the most thankless jobs out there. I can’t believe I’m defending cops but really… this post is totally uncalled for. Aren’t their better ways to incite and grow your site traffic?

    And let’s face it, this blog is very quick to ridicule cops who don’t, can’t or won’t put in the training to be more effective. And yeah, I get it… I totally get it… safety is number one. It’s infuriating and tragic.

    Making this story into something it’s not though, simply adds to the tragedy.

    • avatarFreeheel says:

      Having a crappy, thankless job wins you a paycheck. It does not win you more rights or permission to chuck safety to the wind. Your entire posting smacks of the same emotional appeal of the liberal media and their gun grabbing quest. I am neither moved nor made to feel sorry for the officer.

      The “crappy, thankless job” by the way is a summation of your words, not mine.

    • avatarRalph says:

      I must take issue and try to correct the assertion that officer Kern is a “tyrannical thug” or “power-crazed utopian.

      I must have missed that assertion about Kern personally in the article. I did see that assertion with reference to the Baltimore PD. And I agree with it.

      http://www.policebrutality.info/tag/baltimore-police

      • avatardumbfounded says:

        Chucking safety to the wind is not a right, at least I’ve never heard it characterized that way – it’s an act of idiocy. It is what it is, nothing more. Your response smacks of knee-jerk smacking typical of conspiracy theorists.

        Painting an entire police department with the broad brush of “power crazed utopians” and as “tyrannical thugs” and then singling out one officer as an example appears to assert the officer is representative of such traits.

    • avatarJus Bill says:

      I too have interacted often with LE over the decades, including members of the BPD, always in a positive way. All that shows is that there are hardworking, decent people in the LE profession who do their job correctly and professionally.

      However, “possibly above and beyond the call of duty” seems to be uncalled for after reading the story and followups in the local print and other media. More like “a cowboy who screwed up an innocent trainee’s life by trespassing and illegally playing with guns” would be more like it, IMO.

      Life is not fair at all, and the good Sergeant in one minute severely damaged the credibility of the BPD for the population and all the future trainees drawn from that population. He made professional trust in him evaporate as well. With that one ill-advised shot. That’s the way it is.

    • avatarTJ says:

      This cop set up a glorified airsoft game with his buddies in blue, possibly on company time, in what sounds like an abandoned building (that he had no right to be in) and shot his friend in the face, destroying his eye. This sounds like he meets the criteria of “irresponsible”

  11. avatarThomasR says:

    since many cops feel that there is no real serious consequences for shooting anyone, even another cop ; they are more wreckless.

    This is why you don’t hear about a citizen shooting innocent bystanders in a self defense scenario.

    When a regular person, like a cop, is exposed to power, they, they can be effected by it.
    ” power has a tendency to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” Lord Acton

  12. avatarEric in Sacramento says:

    Infuriates me to hear about people treating firearms irresponsibly.

  13. avatarJohn says:

    I have never felt more threatened by unsafe firearm handling than an encounter with two cops in my own garage. I hear the sounds of running towards my open garage door which turned out to be two cops. Both had their weapons drawn and both had their finger on the trigger. Both of them aimed their guns directly at me as well as randomly lining me up when looking around. My wife and recently born son were on the other side of the wall behind me (bedroom) and were also in potential danger from this unsafe firearm handling. They didn’t even say a word to me until I asked if I could help them with something. They had been called to go to the next door neighbors house for a report of domestic violence but they came to my open garage because they claimed to smell marijuana. Completely disgusted I shook my head and just said “No”. They quickly left without another word but all the while arms swinging and finger on the trigger as they headed next door.

    For one thing there was no marijuana but even if there was how can it possibly be a higher priority than an act of violence? Also, they have an encounter that has them aiming firearms at someone and all that person had to do was say “No” and that is good enough? Yeah, I don’t buy the whole cops are better trained BS either.

  14. avatarMatt in TX says:

    If I had done what this policeman has done. I would be arrested and charged and probably jailed for a long time. He gets paid time off and a slap on the wrist. If he worked for the BATF he would get promoted.

    • avatarThomasR says:

      No, to get promoted at the BATF, you need to stomp some kittens to death, shoot some fenced in dogs and then burn 98 men, women and children to death.

  15. avatarBlue says:

    There should be separate statistical categories for police/LEO negligent discharge and accidental shootings in addition to the current ones.

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