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Maybe you’ve seen the sign at your local range. American Firerarms School has it: “Safety is everybody’s responsibility.” And that’s how I can condemn the entire Lino Lakes Police Department (MN) for the shooting of Officer Chad Schirmers. Because “accidents” like this, where an officer gets shot in the stomach during a training exercise, don’t just happen to happen because one guy stumbles and trips with his finger on the trigger of his service weapon aimed at his brother officer’s center mass. Or racks the slide with his finger on the trigger of his service weapon aimed at his brother officer’s center mass. Or oops shoots himself. ALL negligent discharges are a systemic safety breakdown . . .

In this case, the failure starts with the Chief Swensen, or the guy who hired Chief Swensen, or the voters who elected the guy who hired the Chief Swensen, and ends with the dope who pulled the trigger.

“At this time, it is unknown how the injury occurred,” the Anoka County sheriff’s office said in a statement. “There were three officers shooting at the time of the injury.”

I know that’s all they can say without risking a massive lawesuit. But you really can’t make this simple enough. This negligent discharge occurred because an officer pointed his gun at another officer (or himself) with his finger on the trigger. And then he pulled the trigger. Three safety rules were broken. Someone got shot.

Think there isn’t a culture of incompetence in play? Check out the sound bite from Sgt. Hawley in the above video: “It’s quite rare . . . my twenty-three years . . . maybe it was a malfunction with the gun . . . we can figure it out and correct that.”

There can only be two reasons why a man who’s carried a sidearm for twenty-three years would even mention the possibility of a firearms malfunction re: a negligent discharge. Either A) he’s being deliberately deceitful or B) he really, genuinely doesn’t understand firearms safety. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. B.

And what does that tell you? That we now have an officer who was irresponsible with his weapon, perhaps two more who were shooting with him who might have missed or ignored cues that their colleague was dangerous, and a Sgt. who thinks that guns shoot officers, not officers.

Is it fair to condemn an entire department for an “accident” and someone doing a little proactive CYA without waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the results of the independent investigation?

Sure. Why not? These are, after all, police, otherwise known as public safety officers. The public gives them the right to openly carry a firearm because they expect that the officers will know how to use it safely and effectively. To do that, they must be trained. They are responsible for their own training.

ALL of them have a collective responsibility for that training. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, but the police are responsible for maintaining that chain. And the chain of command goes all the way to the top. The main in charge is ultimately the man responsible. But when it comes to firearms safety, everyone is responsible.

For those who think I’m overly harsh, ask yourself this. What could have been done to prevent this negligent discharge and by whom? Is there really an officer in this department who can say “I never had any indication that this might happen”? And if so, why not?


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        • I don’t think you can always say a ricochet is an ND. There is really no way to tell what might happen to a round once it leaves the barrel. Anything is possible

          • No, I was talking about this particular incident. Given the circumstances of them being at a range, a place where bullets are ‘caught’ if fired in the right direction. Yes, I can say it was an ND whether it ricced or not.

          • Actually, yes, you can classify all ricochets as ND’s. “Be sure of your target and WHAT IS BEHIND IT.” Sound familiar? As to “There is really no way to tell what might happen to a round once it leaves the barrel. Anything is possible”, I think most of us who understand the operation of a firearm can conclusively state that the bullet will travel in a straight line along the axis of the barrel. I have yet to see a bullet perform some sort of boomerang maneuver and strike the shooter without hitting another object.

  1. You included the phrases “firearms safety” and “police”, as well as references and intimations of knowledge of the matter, in the same article. I haven’t laughed this hard since I was a kid.

  2. Okay, everybody, all at once: “Guns don’t shoot people. Cops . . . ”

    You know the rest.

  3. There was a friendly fire range shooting some years ago at Illinois State Police District 14 in Macomb Illinois but somehow the information was never made public. Supposedly the shooter was Harry J Douglas and was knocked down a rank because of it.

  4. Mikeb302000, for you to say anything about anyone else’s lying is hugely hypocritical on your part. You, a United Nations employee, paid to blog about America’s 2nd Amendment right, as an agent provocateur.

    For shame, man. Go find a Roman fountain or something, and get a life where you belong. Which isn’t here anymore, if it ever was.

  5. The internet is a great place for posting opinions based on supposition without facts. It appears you based your opinions on a news broadcast, statements from a sergeant that wasn’t there [and wasn’t from that department], and from statements made by the agency who runs the range about not knowing exactly what happened hours after it occurred. That is foolish on all fronts. Then, after reaching conclusions based on sources that provided no specifics, you malign a group of people that you also have no knowledge of, including the chief of police who had been with this department for a few weeks. You literally know nothing more than a bullet struck this officer somehow. The MN BCA [state police] investigated the shooting and found that the bullet ricocheted off an unknown object behind the target line. Having shot at this range facility, it is not angled steel, it is an angled dirt berm covered by wood baffling overhead. Due to it being a range where 100’s of thousands of rounds have been shot over decades, it was impossible for the BCA to determine what the round hit to make it come back toward the firing line. The range had recently been ‘mined’ to remove old rounds/fragments. Perhaps that process left a boulder or a large enough rock just beneath the dirt surface that could not be seen and led to a ricochet. Perhaps that had no bearing on the incident. I don’t know so I will not guess. What is known from the investigation is that a weapon was never ‘accidentally’ shot [it was intentionally shot at a range target], the bullet ricocheted off of something behind the target line, a gun was never pointed at the officer, and the officers were all the same distance from the target line. The range master has decades of firearms and military training as does the range officer. The range officer inspects the range and ‘dry runs’ the training hours before the training is conducted to find any apparent safety issues with the range. I suppose you can say that they should have some how known that a bullet would strike an object that could not be seen, an object that was angled absolutely perfectly wrong, and struck at the perfectly wrong angle to cause a ricochet. If you can predict all those unpredictable variables, then you indeed know the truth about guns and everything else. 99.999% of the time I would agree with your comments and have seen some examples of those 99.999% occurrences. This is the .001% that is not negligent or reasonably preventable unless unearthing everything behind the target line before every shoot is reasonable. There is a reason everyone on this news broadcast said they didn’t know exactly what happened. They are in the business of not making assumptions and conjectures that may later be proven wrong. Perhaps the author and whoever hired him should be fired for writing an article based on one known fact and the rest utterly on supposition? I don’t know anything about the author so I will not malign him. I will assume his goal is to foster gun safety which is a worthy pursuit. I also hope he would not have written it in the manner he did had he known the facts of the incident.

    • BS! I may be asked to suspend my disbelief but I cannot suspend the laws of physics and gravity. Whatever cover story you guys want to float, does not mean that those of us with training and experience with firearms have to believe it.

      • If your training and experience can predict where a bullet will go if it strikes a covered, irregular, and impenetrable object that can’t be seen, perhaps you can apply it to predicting the lottery. The point is that if you are shooting a projectile that moves at high velocity with the unknown elements of earth as a backstop, the backstop really should be waaaay behind the target line to allow for a larger margin in case of Murphy’s law. There are a few youtube videos showing ricochets that could have easily been fatal, if you don’t think that they happen, you are mistaken.

  6. Moonshine7102, you stated, “I have yet to see a bullet perform some sort of boomerang maneuver …” What about Arlen Spector’s “magic bullet” movement as described the the Warren Report on the Kennedy assasination? That bullet performed some amazing acrobatics …. and didn’t even deform.

  7. I think most of the people who have made comments without all of the facts should watch their own bobber!

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