An article posted by the Los Angeles Times has come out with a review of the increase in accidental discharges by Los Angels County Sheriff deputies, saying it doubled since 2012 when the agency switched over from Beretta 92Fs to the Smith & Wesson M&P. The article has alot of typical firearms terminology errors, such as calling an accidental discharge a “misfire”. Nonetheless, the department is officially saying that they are blaming the new pistols and the lack of training involved for the trend in negligent discharges.
In 2012, there were 12 accidental discharges, none involving the M&P. In 2013, there were 18, eight of which were M&Ps. Of the 30 incidents in 2014, 22 involved M&Ps.
Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers attributed the increase to deputies still adjusting to the lack of a safety on the new gun.
“The vast majority were people trained on the Beretta,” Rogers said. “There is a correlation, no doubt about it.”
I’ve got some problems with this on a variety of different levels. One of them is that it seems that many of the guys seem to have had their fingers on the triggers when they shouldn’t have, and that makes me wonder how many of these guys constantly had their fingers on the triggers with Beretta, simply because the weapon was on “safe”? One of the quotes from the article was one of the instructors they had with “On target, on trigger”. Excuse me? I’ve been taught and do teach, the finger goes on the trigger when “Ready to Fire”, which only occurs when the shooter is completely ready to let a round go regardless of the target and the sighting process. In addition I see this ever trending theme of the handguns allow the recruits and officers to score better on their marksmanship qualifications. I see the same problem with the Marine Corps and issuing out RCOs at the recruit depot because it simply raises the shooting scores. I’m sorry, are we in the business of teaching the proper fundamentals of marksmanship or do we just want to hand out expert badges at the cyclic rate? The article keeps mentioning police departments trying to have heavy trigger jobs and safeties in an attempt to prevent negligent discharges. Are these changes not taking into account that the human factor is the most important factor in any of this? Another thing I’d like to point out is that Law Enforcement and the military are often put at fault for not having the best firearms, the best firearms procedures, etc. Although competency with firearms is certainly apart of the job, it absolutely isn’t the whole job. Just something to keep in mind with this kind of thing. And finally, a pet peeve of mine, no unintended discharge is accidental, it’s negligence for not clearing a firearm or not handling it properly. Finger off the trigger until ready to fire…
In addition, someone in the comments section pointed out that of course M&Ps are offered with thumb safeties. If the transition from manual safety Berettas to M&Ps with no manual safety was so rocky, and all their training/drills revolved around a manual safety on the handgun, what could have gone so wrong with manual safeties on the newer polymer M&Ps? The less weight is still there and you keep all the training that revolved around a manual safety. Perhaps the best quote of the article was this one-
If you still have your finger on the trigger when you put it in your holster, you’ll end up with a stripe on your leg