[NOTE: This post has been updated and corrected. The comments below reflect the previous version, which assumed that FHP Officer Sheetz shot herself in the leg, possibly while re-holstering. TTAG apologizes for not assuming that early press reports got it completely wrong.]
“A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was accidentally shot during a weapons inspection Monday night,” wpbf.com revealed late last night. “The FHP said weapons instructor Mellow Scheetz was shot in the back of her leg during the weapons inspection at a Belle Glade shooting range. She was taken to Delray Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening. It was not immediately known how she was shot.” And now we know the 411 on the 911. sun-sentinel.com sets the record straight . . .
Scheetz, who works for FHP’s Fort Pierce district, was at the Belle Glade Correctional Training Facility just before 10 p.m. doing routine weapons inspections. A supervisor was inspecting a weapon when he accidentally discharged it and a round struck Scheetz, [Lt. Tim] Frith said.
The key word here is “routine.” One must assume that the officer who shot his colleague didn’t get to be a supervisor for the Florida Highway Patrol by exhibiting poor firearms safety. Assuming he practiced safe gun-handling hundreds if not thousands if not tens of thousands of times, why would he suddenly screw it up?
I don’t think he did. Not suddenly. While gun gurus tend to focus on stress-induced catastrophic safety failures—e.g., trigger finger issues in the heat of battle—there’s also a natural tendency towards a long, slow loss of discipline. I reckon that problem is due to a dangerous positive feedback loop.
I have safe gun handling habits so I became a weapons instructor. I’m a weapons instructor because I have safe gun handling habits. I instruct safe gun handling habits so I must have safe gun handling habits. And so on.
To avoid dangerous maybe even deadly complacency, a responsible gun owner must have humility. The best way to get that is to have it given to you by someone else. In other words, you have to train with someone outside your own feedback loop, an expert who will give you a no-holds-barred independent assessment of your gun handling skills.
The moment you think you’ve got it wired is the moment the mental connections start to fray. Which is why there’s no such thing as “enough” training. A responsible gun owner knows that they must guard against their greatest enemy: themselves.