I love me some tactical shotguns. They’re as close to a one-stop shot as you can get in a firearm. They’re perfect for making solid objects disappear in an explosion of bits. Don’t try that at home. Or in a police patrol car. OK, Austin, Texas police officers Shelly Holmstrom and Vincent Giles didn’t try to blow the bejesus out of their squad cars with their department-issued scatterguns, but by God they managed it. The video above features a rather confused performance in terms of preparing a shotgun for police duty. To be clear, a “cruiser ready” shotgun has a full magazine, an empty chamber and the safety on. “Call ready” means a full mag, chamber loaded, safety on. And “Shoot Ready” means a full magazine magazine with the chamber loaded and safety off. As always, a finger never goes on the trigger until it’s time to shoot. All that said, a one-day suspension for the officers and some TTAG IGOTD hardware ought to prevent future APD mishaps. Or not . . .

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73 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owners of the Day: Austin Police Department Officers Shelly Holmstrom and Vincent Giles

  1. Barring a mechanical breakdown, there is no such thing as an accidental discharge. They are all negligent discharges. That was an excellent piece from the TV station. Thanks for sharing it.

    • I was impressed. I believe that was the first time I’ve ever seen the name of any internal gun part (follower) uttered by a TV news reporter.

      • haha get outta my brain! I did had a big WHAAAAAAAAAA when she said follower also, I bet some of the people watching the show wouldnt know what it was unless she said Flourescent Orange after ha.

        • … At least she knew what the follower was herself and was kind enough to teach people a few little tidbits, and *gasp* even suggest that learning how to safely handle a shotgun might be a thing real people can do!

          Respect for Texas +1

  2. Wouldn’t be the first time, I’ll wager, and it won’t be the last.

    Shit happens. Cops are only human after all, despite whatever nutbar claims to the contrary.

    • Nobody is arguing that officers are human and that mistakes happen.

      The argument is how the same incident is treated depending if you are officer or Joe Citizen.

      An officer gets a 1 day suspension and it is done. Joe Citizen, depending on the state, country or town/city and the whim of the DA, can loose his permit, get fined, go to jail and sometimes all 3 for the same mistake.

      We are all human, we all make mistakes, but because they are LEO the consequences or those mistakes is treated differently — that is the one and only issue.

      When people who work for the government are treated differently, how are they equally citizens?

      As a simple case, when Malloy was elected governor in CT, a month or so later his wife was caught speeding. It was NOT until some reporter made a big stink that she was “forced” to pay the ticket to stave off any more public embarrassment. Either was all make the mistake of speeding and pay the fine, or nobody does — being the wife of the governor should NOT exclude you from getting the ticket or paying the fine — it is that type of unequal treatment which burns people.

      So, yes, mistakes happen — but if a regular citizen has to pay a fine or go to jail, then the officer should to.

      • I can’t disagree with anything of substance Pascal has here. I would only add that first class citizen status benefits cops even before a negligent discharge. And not just in a wink and a nod kind if way, but codified in law.

        For example, any one of us who gets slapped with a domestic violence charge, or even just a restraining order, is subject to losing their firearms. Cops in the same situation? Nope, there’s a special carve out for them in Texas for that; allowing them to continue to carry.

        It was funny, except it wasn’t funny at all, when that law went into effect originally without the carve out. PD’s statewide panicked as they realized how many of their wife beaters with badges would have to get the boot. Hence the quickly added carve out.

      • Whoa! Dude! Pretty radical stuff! “The Only Ones” treated the same as us peons? If that happens, we would actually be citizens and not subjects. You know, a government of the people.

      • If the suspensions were longer, union reps would scream bloody murder. Public employees should never be allowed unionization as it removes accountability.

  3. Here is and idea, any LEO that has a ND (is there such thing as an AD?), the following happens.

    1. LEO is suspended for at least 1 week
    2. LEO turns in duty firearm(s)
    2. During that week, the LEO is required to sign up for firearm safety course for at least the for the type of firearm that they had an ND, out of their own pocket.
    3. LEO is required to successfully pass a firearms safety course for handgun, rifle, shotgun (all three out of their own pocket) before their duty are returned to them.
    4. If courses are not completed after 1 week, the LEO has a desk job until all courses are successfully passed, and is unable to be issued any firearm.

    • It’s a perfect solution to the problem of negligent discharges and it forces the person to be more aware of their responsibilities and their actions. That’s why the unions will never allow anything like this to be implemented.

    • 1. LEO is suspended for at least 1 week without pay

      FIFY.

      Also, requiring the negligent officer to pay personally for repairs would go a VERY long way toward preventing NDs.

    • Not bad for a first draft proposal, but it’s still a tad cumbersome. Hiw about this? An officer commits a negligent discharge, he or she gets fired snd loses their peace officer license?

      Ask yourself, what would happen to a private security guard, body guard, firearms instructor or even LGS counter guy who did the same thing?

      I’m sick and tired of being demonized as an incompetent, trigger happy nutjob of a firearms owner, while our law enforcement so-called superiors are lionized as highly trained professionals who are expert in the proper use of firearms. It’s that phony dichotomy that’s used to justify all sorts of special exceptions for cops. Yet, when they fail to live up to that unearned status, they get mere slaps on the wrist instead of the book thrown at them that they deserve.

      • When I was in afghaniland we had two guys that ND’d with a 240, one quite literally cried like a little girl and got off scoff-free, while the other got NJP’d if I remember right. But what sticks in my mind was when a Brit from a RAF unit who shared our PB had an ND with his L85, he was essentially hazed 5 minutes later for about the next 4 hours as well as fined something close to $400 USD (not sure if it was unit dependant or not but they fined you PER round you ND’d with). Shit happens, the odds are not in our favor to remain 100% accident free no matter how hard we try, we just have to hope that the one time we may f*ck it up the damage is limited only to our ego for letting it happen. But bloody hell there outta be more accountability than “well…just take a day and we’ll sweep this under the rug”

        • I recall reading about an incident in the South Pacific on some island where a Marine ND’d a captured Japanese pistol and the shot killed another Marine. He was quite upset about the incident and when his command ordered his punishment was to “Do the work of two Marines for the entire campaign.” He did his best to do exactly that and was at the front of every attack. So far as I know (It’s been a long time since I read the account) he survived the war. One can only hope his penance cleared his conscience.

    • Considering the sort of fines that poorly paid soldiers can be subject to for NDs (including those with BLANKs during training), the cops certainly do get off easily.

    • 5. The courses must be under the supervision of a civilian training academy with NO specific ties to law enforcement.

  4. “They’re perfect for making solid objects disappear in an explosion of bits.”
    Such as the roof of your patrol car.

    Seriously, there is a REAL DAMN GOOD reason the 4 rules are taught and need to be followed religiously, extra holes in things are bad!

    • Depends on the things. There are real damn good and legitimate reasons for things to come out the front of firearms VERY fast.

    • That’d be Disorderly Conduct, normally a class C misdemeanor (equivalent to a traffic ticket), but under these circumstances a class B. For real people, that would mean up to $4K fine and/or up to a year in prison.

    • If it doesn’t damage anything (belonging to anyone else), probably nothing. Depends on where you live. Accidental gunshots are non-prosecuted all the time, even in the case of injury, if the injured doesn’t wish to pursue the issue. I saw a story just recently about a gym owner who was hit in the leg in his office, when a gun belonging to a gym member was negligently discharged in the locker room, and the bullet went through two or three walls to hit the guy. The injured guy said he considered the other guy a friend, and no charges were filed.

    • Nah, all they need is for some city lawyer to tell them to put 20-pound triggers on their shotguns. Hey, it worked for the NYPD’s Glocks, right? Right?

    • I’d be interested to hear from other LEOs what their depts policy is for NDs on duty.

      Seems pretty light punishment in Austin but given the influence of police unions in protecting their own and in electing public office holders I am frankly not surprised.

      • I’ve been a cop for 14 years, the only NDs I’ve seen or heard of in the Depts I know other cops in or have worked in have happened at the range generally while reholstering. usually with Part time cops, reserve officers, or Jail guards who generally don’t handle guns on a regular basis (like 2 times a year, only when they have to Qualify). They have been with Glocks and with Sigs. all have been because the booger hook was not removed from the bang switch prior to reholstering. ALL got immediate Remedial training…

        The Severity of the punishment for a ND usually depends on the circumstances surrounding it and any Property damaged or persons injured as a result of it. Also, prosecution if appropriate is not ruled out.

        The Suspension without pay of 1 day (10 hour shift $22/hour $220 directly out of pocket) does seem a bit llght. DEPENDING of course on the circumstances. for two to have the same ND kinda tells me that Austin PD doesn’t stow their Shotguns “cruiser ready” …… might be an admin issue

  5. If this story were in any number of other states/cities, it would have been very different. 1) It would have been the gun’s fault. 2) Clearly department procedure wasn’t sufficient. 3) The officers should get hazard pay for having to deal with guns that just “go off”. 4) Under no circumstances would any member of a news team set foot on a range, let alone squeeze off a couple of rounds.

  6. “Hey Vinnie, is the safety engaged on that shotgun”?
    “I don’t know Shelly, let me check”
    “Crap!, I guess not”
    “What?, I can’t hear you Vinnie, I got a ringing in my ears.”

  7. two things:

    1) Robert clearly is making friends with the Austin PD and working on getting out of those speeding tixs as a professional courtesy

    2) Austin is a liberal hippie enclave in Texas and the people are not paying enough in taxes if they can have 6 ND’s in 2 yrs on vehicles and no one (ie, training officer) gets fired. . . . .

    • I believe both of these to be untrue. But especially number 2. Austin has grown into San Francisco. We, as a city, are no longer hippies but now up tight, self absorbent, hipsters. Just look at our City Council. Unfortunately, we are becoming a small breeding ground for little Shannon Wattses, Watts’s, Watts’…Hell you know what I mean.

    • It’s not just Austin. When was the last time ANY cop was fired for negligent firearms handling that didn’t result in a death? This kind of thing happens all the time, everywhere, and nobody is ever really punished. There is almost no accountability at all levels in most police departments in this country.

  8. oh good, the 3 day weekend will teach them their lesson.

    a non leo would probably have been arrested and stripped of their 2A rights.

  9. I never expected to see such detailed, politically neutral and factually correct TV reporting about firearms. Reporter Dawn Denny did an outstanding job.

  10. (I keep the the shotgun and pistol fully loaded and safety on at all times, shotgun standing in corner , pistol lying on the end table, other than when I intend to fire them. Cats/dogs can pull triggers too). I take it in both cases the officers were the only one in the vehicle at the time. Otherwise it could have been a negligent homicide. Immediate dismissal from the job would have been more appropriate. It is not like no one trained them, they chose to do something stupid. I would have liked to have heard their version of how/why the shotgun went off.

  11. Nice town you chose to live in, Robert. I am sure you go to bed at night confident that, unlike NYC, the cops won’t “accidentally” shoot you.

    by the way, I am sorely disappointed there were not pics. Not your fault for sure, but would have been a real gas to see.

  12. I was a Marine Embassy Security Guard for over three years, and every once in a while somebody somewhere in the world in an embassy would ND. Usually into the clearing barrel, but sometimes not. The procedure for loading up the M870 shotgun before going to post was as follows:
    1. Visual/Physical inspection of chamber and magazine tube.
    2. Slowly ride shotgun bolt closed on an empty chamber.
    3. Dry fire shotgun on empty chamber.
    4. Load 4 rounds of 00 buck into magazine tube

    For Marines on the program, Duty carry is weapon on “fire” hammer down on an empty chamber, magazine tube full.

    Unfortunately, this is too complicated for some dumb asses. We were required to have monthly upload/download lessons for all weapons, despite having to do this daily for our job. In addition, Whenever some dumb Marine, somewhere in the world would ND, they would send a blast out and have everybody come in to the detachment office and get more “training” on the proper way to upload/download….

    For anybody who was unfortunate enough to ND their weapon, the procedure was always the same. (Hint: it wasn’t a 1 day suspension)
    1. NJP paperwork on negligent Marine
    2. RFC (Relieved for Cause) That means pack your bags sonny boy, you’re on the next flight out.
    At that point, they didn’t send the offending Marine to some other Detachment in the world, they sent him the hell back to Quantico, where he was eventually sent back to whatever his old Marine MOS was. The end.

    Although, as it turns out, these poor cops were probably the victims of hazing. All the veteran cops might have convinced them that they needed to do a “car pop” before they were one of the gang….

  13. I think a suspension is appropriate when combined with repair costs and additional training. I don’t see termination over a first offense with non-injury, even though negligence was clearly involved. As to the amount of ND’s over the past few years, it looks like the APD needs more firearms training. The same could be said of most PD’s. The double standard is readily apparent. If cops get a slap in the wrist, so also should everyone else. It is simple negligence either way, and criminal negligence if someone gets hurt or killed.

  14. Holy crap! That was actually a decent and accurate report by the new station. And they did proper research. Whoa…

  15. The average cop is NOT a firearms guy. Its a tool they carry.
    And I think those of us w/o a ND should throw the first bullet.

    If you havent had a ND you will eventually. Or else you really dont handle a weapon very often.
    Its hard for a safe queen to have a ND, unless you are really stupid and store them loaded.

  16. Saw on the news about 2-3 nights ago that a 3rd APD officer discharged a shotgun into a parking lot. (immediately after reading this article)

    Apparently their policy is to dry fire the shotgun………

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