An armed mother in Indiana was unable to fire her pistol at a home invader to protect her family. She did not believe the intruder when he claimed that he was the police. Confronted with the armed mother, the burglar ran off, taking the family’s flat screen television with him. It was a scary, adrenaline-pumping moment, I am sure. From the mother’s description of what happened, I suspect that it was a case of what we called “buck fever” when I was growing up . . .
“I yelled down the stairs, ‘Who’s down there?’,” she said. “He told me, ‘The police.’ As I ran down the steps and I was going to shoot my gun, it jammed up on me.”
Once jammed, Marta said the bullets popped through the chamber, unfired. That allowed the burglar to get away, carrying her flat screen TV.
From the picture, the pistol looks like a SIG Sauer Mosquito. It’s a popular .22 caliber pistol, intended primarily for training, target shooting, and plinking. It has a slide mounted safety and a safety lock located behind the magazine well.
As can be seen in the video, the slide can be operated with the safety on. Many people keep pistols for home defense in condition three. That is, with a loaded magazine in the pistol, but with the chamber empty. Often, especially if there are small children in the house, the safety is kept on as well, making it more difficult for a child to fire the gun.
When I was growing up, deer hunting was, and still is, a rite of passage for young people. One of the oral traditions that was passed on was warning about the potential for “buck fever.” Buck fever is the psychological effect of adrenaline on the ability to fire effectively and generally function well in a high stress situation. The sight of a large buck was said to set off this reaction, especially in less experienced hunters. A fairly common story would be for a hunter to cycle cartridges through the rifle, without ever actually firing one. Similar stories were common from the Civil War, where soldiers would load multiple charges in their rifles, without any actually being fired.
The design of the SIG Mosquito lends itself to this sort of reaction. The trigger can be activated and the hammer will fall with the safety on. The slide can be cycled, and cartridges ejected with the safety on. This isn’t a bad thing, because it allows the pistol to be loaded and unloaded while in a safe condition.
But in the adrenaline charged moment of attempting to stop a home invasion, it’s easy to attempt to fire wight he safety engaged. When no “bang” occurs, the shooter works the slide, ejects an unfired cartridge, and repeats until the magazine is empty. The pistol hasn’t really “jammed,” just left the safety on. It’s a simple training issue. It also shows an advantage of simple systems such as most double action revolvers and GLOCK pistols.
In this case, no one was hurt. The major damage was a lost TV (and a missed opportunity to stop a thief from further depredations on the community).
The armed mother showed courage in confronting the intruder. I hope someone will offer her some instruction on tactics, and help her practice with her pistol.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.