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“The M&P has obvious benefits. It is easier to shoot accurately, can be fired more reliably under stress and is a better fit for people with small hands. The switch was prompted in part by the threat of a lawsuit by women who had failed the Sheriff’s Academy. More recruits — including more women — are now passing the firearms test, and veteran deputies are also logging better scores at the firing range.” – Cindy Chang in Rise in accidental gunshots by L.A. County deputies follows new firearm [at latimes.com]

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51 Responses to Quote of the Day: It’s the Carpenter, Not the Tools Edition

  1. Hmm…how does one fire a gun unless ones finger is on the trigger? Lots of those “accidental” discharges are not accidents, they are negligence.

    • But who is negligent if cops are being trained to put their finger on the trigger before they want to shoot? Is it negligent to follow your “professional training”, or negligent to train unsafe procedure, or both?

      • Both. It is negligent to train to an unsafe procedure, no doubt. However, these men and women are being entrusted with maintaining the peace in our society; they damn sure better have enough common sense to know that putting their finger on the trigger prematurely is unsafe, and, training or not, to know not to follow unsafe, negligent instruction.

      • It’s a quandary, but the competent shooter needs to understand the vast limitations of police marksmanship training and seek serious practice and instruction someplace else. I’m not dying or killing someone for bad policy.

      • If you were in s position where you jag to take a job as a LEO and they trained you to put your finger on the trigger prematurely, what would your response be? Would you consider yourself negligent to follow that training?

      • Both.
        It’s negligent to teach somebody bad habits, especially if it’s a government employee carrying a gun enforcing the law.
        But regardless of the training, the cop is responsible for all actions he takes.

    • Several ways, actually, but with modern firearm and holster design it’s taking a higher quality of idiot to manage the task.

    • It is negligent. . . to quote the LATimes. Who gives a cr_p if they come up with something mildly amusing once every 7 quarters (even a dead body can get lucky if there’s a necrophiliac handy), you’ve provided them more exposure here than their own circulation and they are clearly not worth it.

      Ban me maybe, but ban them.

  2. I’d bet $1000 these “firearms experts” are all former police who are covering for the stupidity of their brothers in blue. Any real expert would tear these officers apart for breaking the simplest of safety rules.

  3. waiting for someone to point out that in the above text they are all but blaming women for this “problem”

  4. While I agree with the headline 90%+ of the time, assuming the results are not fudged this looks like the exception. What were they qualifying on before, a Smith 1006?

  5. Finger off the trigger until you’re aiming at someone or something you’re willing to shoot. Finger off the trigger when re-holstering. If those two rules are really that difficult to remember, maybe employment in a field that does not involve firearms is a better choice.

  6. Does officer firearm training not include the Four Cardinal Rules? Presence of a safety and weight of trigger pull are irrelevant if the finger is off the trigger.

  7. http://bearingarms.com/rise-negligent-discharges-accompanies-lasd-transition-striker-fired-pistol/?utm_source=BearingArms1_7&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=BearingArms1
    Bob Owens weighs in again against striker fired guns. Maybe the question that should be asked is not ‘how much more training do the police need to overcome negligent discharges,’ but ‘is the training they are conducting reflective of what officers might face on the streets?’ Shooting a square range at paper targets for score in no way reflects the high-stress, adrenaline dump aspects of a chaotic, violent encounter on patrol. If you train new officers to place their fingers on the trigger of a SA/DA gun on the way to target acquisition, aren’t you doing the same thing as when you train them to keep their trigger finger straight and off the trigger until ready to shoot on a striker fired gun? Aren’t you training an officer to automatically shoot as he/she raises that SA/DA gun to the target if they do that every time during qualification? Why not teach them to decide to shoot when the threat warrants, under duress, in between movements and while communicating with their partner/other cops and the threat? Is it not a plausible scenario where a police officer points his weapon at a threat, finger straight and off the trigger and trigger guard, without shooting? The argument against striker fired guns makes no sense in the context of the current training system for SA/DA guns, and the overall lack of real-world, scenario based training.

  8. If you read the full article, it sounds like the sheriff’s department was all but training deputies to ride the trigger with their 92’s. The end of the article has a decent description of trigger discipline.

    • The story says:

      L.A. County sheriff’s deputies learning to shoot the Beretta were taught to rest a finger on the trigger as soon as they took aim. The mantra was “on target, on trigger.”

      With M&Ps and Glocks, the trigger finger should stay on the side of the gun until the last moment.

      I don’t think I have any argument with that SOP, if true. But if you wanting around in the dark tripping over stollers in closets you are NOT aiming or “on target”. Also does not explain discharge in a bathroom stall. ALL are stupidity and negligent discharges.

  9. I thought LEOs were highly trained and the only ones the anti-gunners think should be armed. Yet when multiple cops accidentally shoot someone or something no one says a word, but if I civilian does it, the anti-gun media is all over it like Chuck Schumer with a TV camera.

    • Dude! Really? Do you not see the scrutiny our LEOs are under right now? We (LEOs and Non-LEOs alike) are all feeling the pressure of the media. The media are upset because it is twice as hard to find a believable stat that supports their agenda of stirring the gun control pot and making news money. Your LEOs and you are in the same boat when it comes to an negligent discharge hurting another life form (it used to be just humans, but now if Fido or Fluffy catch a bullet it is somehow even worse).

      LEOs carry and handle guns everyday and they should be more adept, but if they don’t train well or often enough they just like any of us can get lax. The term indexing should be common knowledge and trained (if not drilled) into everyone who carrys a firearm.

  10. Am I to understand that someone sued the county because they failed the academy…

    What ever happened to failing, learning from your failures, getting better, and then, trying again?

    No, it must be that the system is rigged. I’m not substandard and lacking, the bar is just set too high. I should sue for this injustice.

    • There are things you can overcome with extra work and things you can’t. Having a hand too small to reach the trigger when you hold the gun properly is an example of the latter. Changeable grips are a sensible solution but, too often, bureaucrats need to be smacked upside the head with a lawsuit before they will change their ways. If I remember correctly, Massad Ayoob helped some female FBI recruits in a similar situation with that agency.

      If the LASD really was training their officers to ride the trigger, the individuals responsible deserve a major ass kicking. Doing that is a bad idea with any gun. A heavy, double action trigger is no guarantee that you can’t inadvertently pull it. A local cop once shot himself with his S&W model 10 when he tripped during a foot pursuit. After the first shot with a DA/SA pistol, no more heavy trigger pull.

      A pistol whose only safety is contained within the trigger is unforgiving. Anything that presses the trigger, not necessarily your finger, will make it fire. It’s like carrying a cocked revolver or a 1911 cocked and unlocked. The Springfield XD has a grip safety but that works only if your grip is too loose to compress it. I like the 1911’s thumb safety as a backup to the four basic safety rules.

    • I suspect that law enforcement agencies are driven by one-size-fits-all and my-way-or-the-highway mainframes. It is certainly the case that different hand-sizes justify different-sized grips and different guns. Fit the gun to the user not the user to the gun.

      There are justifiable differences of opinion and preferences as to how to balance tools-and-techniques. Is it really a good idea to force every member of a force to use the exact make and model? Suppose it does make sense because there is really one ideal make+model; now, then, why is it that Brand-X model 1 really was the perfect police gun last year but this year it is indisputably true that Brand-Y Model 9 is best?

      If it takes a lawsuit to get a law enforcement agency to break from stubborn insistence on its own arrogance then I’m fully in favor of using the tool (a court) that works. The problem is more likely the sheriff/chief vs. the cadet who has to sue to get a fair hearing on the issue.

      • “Suppose it does make sense because there is really one ideal make+model; now, then, why is it that Brand-X model 1 really was the perfect police gun last year but this year it is indisputably true that Brand-Y Model 9 is best.”

        Last year at the expo Brand-X covered me head to toe in schwag, but this year they didn’t give me nothing. On the other hand, this year Brand-Y paid for all my drinks and golf, so clearly the Brand-Y Model 9 is top choice for our agency.

  11. I am old and like old school Sig SA/DA .

    Every time I hold my Glock I feel like I have a hand grenade with the pin pulled in my hand.

    Striker fire is just not for me.

    • Feel somewhat similar about my Beretta compared to my SCCY. Feel OK to have one in the chamber on the Beretta all the time. The SCCY not so much. Beretta has a safety and 2A/1A. SCCY has no safety and 2A every pull. I know about finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and practice that but still feel the same about the difference between these two pistols. Probably just a mental thing with me. But doubt I would be able to carry one in the chamber of a striker fired pistol without a safety. Those “safe” triggers look like a bad joke to me.

      • But the SCCY is NOT a striker-fired pistol. It is hammer-fired–it just has a shielded hammer. I have the Sig P250, which has a similar configuration. When I get my SDA card (it’s chat Oklahoma calls their concealed carry permit,) I’ll probably carry it with one in the chamber. I’m training myself in proper trigger discipline.

      • I got tagged speeding a couple of years ago and told the cop I had a gun in my bag. He asked what it was and I told him it was a 226. He said he was an instructor and lamented that they had to give up their 228s for Glock perfection. Even gave me a bit of a break on the speed.

  12. As critical as trigger-discipline is, conventional wisdom and evidence point to the difficulty of achieving 100% effective training.

    It’s not hard to demonstrate trigger-discipline on the range when there is no adrenaline rush and we know we are being watched by our peers, RSOs and trainers. It’s an entirely different matter to maintain trigger-discipline in a dark venue when the carrier knows he is vulnerable; and, no one is looking over his shoulder to enforce trigger discipline.

    To improve my own habits I’ve made my own “tool”. I bought a “knock-out” cap that fits into the trigger guard of a blue-gun.

    (An electrical wiring box is typically fitted with many pre-punched knockouts removed at the job-site were a fitting needs to be located. Occasionally, the wrong knockout is removed and needs to be covered. For this purpose, a plate with dozens of little spring-loaded fingers is inserted into the hole. The fingers grip the rim of the knockout hold and hold the plate in-place.)

    I glued 3 ordinary thumb-tacks to the inside of the plate. When the glue dried, I inserted the knockout cover into the left side of the trigger guard such that the points of the thumb-tacks protrude toward the right side of the trigger guard. (The trigger-guard isn’t perfectly round, but that seems to be not a problem. The “rail” of the blue-gun required that I grind down one edge of the knock-out plate to make the plate fit flat on the trigger guard).

    On occasions when I have some time (putzing around the house with no wife around and not a lot of things requiring continuous use of my right hand) I carry my blue-gun practicing my indexing and trigger discipline. On occasion when my trigger finger mis-behaves and drifts into the trigger guard it is rudely awakened to the error of its ways by contact with he thumb-tacks.

    I think trainers could prepare a dozen such training devices to lend to newbie students to carry (around home) during the beginning of their gun experience. Before the newbie has her first opportunity to break trigger discipline use of such a tool could develop the proper habit in a few weekends of practice.

    I would welcome any critique of my idea.

    • Mark, One thought on reading about your idea is that you could end up with a Pavlovian or muscle memory issue where the gun handler may have a real problem ever putting his/her finger on the trigger in an emergency situation. Or maybe just a delay while their logical brain kicks in. That could be deadly for them in a self defense situation.

  13. Every incident cited in the article is attributable to poor firearms handling and storage, not a light trigger. In ancient times the LAPD issued DAO S&W revolvers because they did not believe in cocking a handgun before shooting it. There were practical considerations to this decision: a cocked revolver can go off quite easily; covering a suspect required first carefully lowering the hammer of a cocked revolver onto a live round; uncocking a revolver meant reducing the number of rounds immediately available after firing the pistol; and a DAO revolver had a smoother, lighter trigger pull. By comparison, the LAPD’s Beretta 92 is bulky, has a heavy double action first shot capability, a clumsy safety that is slow to disengage, cannot be carried or handled safely with the hammer cocked, and can only be rendered safe by lowering the hammer with the decocker (safety), thus returning the pistol to the DA mode and rendering it inert until the safety is once more disengaged. The Glock series of pistols used by the department is quite similar in operation to the sheriff’s department’s S&W M&Ps. The primary advantage of the M&P appears to be a more comfortable grip and the option to get one with a simple-to-operate manual safety copied from the venerable Colt 1911. Perhaps this latter feature would be a better choice for accident-prone deputies if reassignment to desk duty is not possible.

    • Allene, I should have known who to ask about the mysterious visitor! You know more about this town than I do. I did not know about Linn’s Farm having a peacock. Randy? Really? He didn’t look like a Randy. More like a Reginald I think. Glad you enjoyed the link. So many wonderful words. I remain Gorgonized. xxoo

    • -+1
      Trigger pull varies from pistol to pistol. My wife, step daughter and son all have small hands as in KIDS size gloves. Beretta 92, 1006, 4006 and SIG 226 are all easy enough for them. Wife’s daily ccw is either FNP. 9mm or 226/229. Daughter has an M9 at 4’10 95lbs and shot marksman in boot camp with it.

      Give me a SIG over a Glock any day. G21 is big for me & a 1911 is huge but comfortable for.me to use.

      • I hear ya. My hands hand aren’t small, but they are thin and boney. The Glock’s almost square-shaped grip (along with that crappy grip angle) just doesn’t feel good in my hands for any extended period of time, but my old Ruger P95’s big, well rounded grip fits great. As for Sigs, never messed with ’em, but I want to.

    • No joke, bought mine in Dec 2012 and I LOVE to shoot it other than the trigger. Been debating on seeing if I want to try the work myself or just buy the Apex Kit and install it. One of those times I really wish I knew a gunsmith I could bring a bottle of some good whiskey to, have a couple and pick his brain.

  14. You got to lower the bar here people – and not just for women but humans in general. Keeping a human finger off the trigger is just too hard to do for humans as history has shown. How many military and police units have accident or negligent discharges every year? I think a few of these are purposeful and some pen jockey has classified them as such to save embarrassment or prosecution but even still there is indeed a magical pull that triggers have towards human digits. I invoke 2 cardinal rules for LAPD in this situation:

    1. No harm no foul

    2. S*^# happens

  15. I own both guns and they’re both great guns, and while I understand the 92 isn’t for everyone I find it funny that more people are accurate with what is practically and indisputably the less accurate of the two guns, the M&P (especially if it has the bad trigger still).

  16. Having shot in competitions with police and knowing a few others besides. I’m ready to believe this is just another example of an almost universal lack of training and practice.

  17. I’ll go one step further. I submit to you the idea that double action triggers and thumb safeties can mask and even encourage unsafe trigger habits and discipline.

    I once argued with an officer that carried a Sig 226 that it was necessary to do a “50% pull” on a trigger before determining if he should fire or not.

    “‘The vast majority were people trained on the Beretta,” Rogers said. “There is a correlation, no doubt about it.”‘

  18. Indexing on the trigger may be the most stupid idea in the history of police work. Now that the cops have been indoctrinated to do so, it’s become instinctive and it will take hundreds of hours of retraining to stop it.

    • I agree, but until reading this I have never seen or even heard of anyone teaching a LEO or non-LEO to index anywhere other than the slide or frame above the trigger.

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