For those of us who have been around guns most of our lives we no doubt have stories of those we’ve seen handling guns in an unsafe manner. Heck you may have even seen a ND at one time or another I know I have.
I’ve seen people from all walks of life handling guns on the range when I was teaching and seen some serious lapses of judgement from many who should know better. Myself and other range officers at our PD could tell some stories when officers came out for qualification as well as civilians taking our free courses. Contrary to popular belief not all soldiers or police officers are gun guys or gals.
One short story about an officer having an ND on our PD parking lot will relate what a non gun officer can do from sheer carelessness. At the end of each shift the officer is required to unload the issued shotgun and leave the slide back to indicate it’s been unloaded, hopefully. The shotgun is then turned in and an officer from the next shift will check it out and sign for it. On this particular day the officer in front of me was walking to his car to begin the shift as was I. Rather than wait until he got to the car, put his gear down, and visually check the chamber then loading it this officer runs the slide up and pulls the trigger without checking anything. You know what comes next a very large 12 ga. boom which thankfully went straight up.The officer from the last shift didn’t unload the 870! His biggest problem after finding nobody was injured was seeing the Chief of police walking right next to me. That bit of stupidity cost him a three day suspension and of course loss of pay. I imagine the worst part for him was the hell he caught from other officers. We aren’t terribly happy or forgiving when one idiot makes us all look bad and puts us at risk by mishandling a weapon. This particular officer was NOT a gun guy.
When one of our readers submitted this post to me in an email I gave it a good read and thought it was not only interesting but had a lot of observations and experiences I’ve had. Anyway, I wanted to share his experiences with our readers and see what you have to say about it’s validity. Is he being over the top with his safety concerns or is he spot on with what he says?
The other day my buddy and I made a lunch-time run to the local, old established gun store. While there, a gentleman stopped in to have some tritium sights installed on his new Glock 43. He was telling us about the sights, the price and why he bought them while the guy on duty got out the tools to install them. Then, without even asking, the customer reached back to his holster and pulled out the Glock. He had it unloaded, no mag and locked open. I thought it was gun store protocol to always ask before you haul it out, but since he had taken every precaution short of putting it in a case I was willing to overlook it.
While the gunsmith worked, the customer stepped behind the counter and picked up a revolver lying on the back shelf. He admired it for a minute or two, sighted toward the back wall, asked permission and dry fired it. (I hadn’t noticed if he checked it before picking it up as I was watching the gunsmith work.) This gentleman then decided we needed to see it, turned around and pointed it right at me. I should have called him on it but just stepped out of the way. Sorry guy, the jury is in and any benefit of the doubt I had reserved for you is now gone.
After the customer left we were discussing various things with the clerk/gunsmith, a former police officer, who I like and have respected. While talking, he had in his hand a Glock he had shown us. Prior to putting it away, while we talked, he was tapping the business end of the pistol with the palm of his left hand. Dang, there goes that respect out the window.
Across town at the newer gun store I have had similar experiences. One lady was showing me a Springfield M1A rifle. She pulled the bolt and then could not figure out how to close it. For some reason she decided to turn it around and look in the barrel. I took it from her and told her, “Don’t do that, it makes me nervous.” Another day, I mentioned to her that her Springfield Range Officer 1911 was coming up out of her holster. (Cheap one-size-fits-most gun bucket – and why she’d be carrying anything with a light trigger is another question mark.) She pulled it and fiddled with it right in front of me, sweeping me more than once with a loaded gun. Another salesperson there, showing me a 1911, pointed it into the palm of his hand. When I said, “Don’t point it at yourself!” he said, “Oh, it’s not loaded.” and then swept me. I walked away. When he asked didn’t I want to see it I told him I’d look at it another day. I hope he got the clue. The fact is, I am not going to stand around and let anybody, amateur or professional, obliviously point a gun at me.
With all that said, the ones who most amaze me are the police officers working the check-in table at the local gun shows. I have seen many different officers there over the years and almost always, they are careless about where they point your firearm while they check it. C’mon guys. You are supposed to be the professionals, setting the standard for the rest of us. I would feel safer leaving my CCW holstered and just walking past you. I always make sure to unload it before leaving the car to avoid getting shot with my own gun. One of these days I need to just buy a safe for the car so I feel better about leaving it out there.
I guess my story begs a question. Am I just anal retentive and over-reacting? I can understand the rank amateur who needs a little education in firearms safety but in the gun store and especially with a police officer I would expect the highest standards of safety practices. Gun store owners and police officers, please ratchet it up a few notches. Remember, we see you whether or not we say something. All you good guys and gals out there who get what I’m saying, please help raise awareness of this. When someone violates good safety, be polite, but call them on it.