Most of the local media outlets are reporting on a story about a Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy who was shot when his pistol “accidentally discharged”. Both WRAL, and the Fayetteville Observer are reporting that the Deputy was leaving his home to go to work, when he had the pistol packed in a bag. Apparently another item in the bag engaged the trigger, firing the .40 S&W pistol, which hit the Deputy.
I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback this situation too much, but I’ve got a few questions. I want to make it very clear, that I’m not bashing this Deputy because he is a cop, I’m raising questions about safety because I think there are some lessons here that we all can learn from:
1. Why was a loaded, chambered pistol placed into a bag?
- I’m a firm believer that loaded pistols only belong in two places, in a holster, or in my hands.
- I do frequently carry a pistol in a bag. I have a Maxpedition Jumbo that goes a lot of places with me, that my Glock 19 rides in quite frequently. However, the pistol is not just tossed into the main compartment of the bag with the rest of my gear. I have attached a kydex holster to the inside of the bag where the pistol rides to keep any sort of junk from getting into the trigger.
2. Why were there other items bagged with the pistol?
- A lot of cops carry their gear to and from work in a bag. No issue there. My concern is whether or not this Deputy just tossed his pistol into the bag with the rest of his gear, or was it in a dedicated pocket or something isolated from other items? If the pistol was bagged with other items, I think this is something that we all need to think about when carrying a firearm. This is no different that someone who pocket carries a pistol, and keeps other items in the pocket with the loaded pistol. Or the guy who carries IWB, and doesn’t check to make certain his shirt won’t get caught on the pistol while holstering it (me).
Col. Jeff Cooper gave us 4 firearm safety rules that I prefer to the NRA rules. (I lifted these from ITS Tactical).
- Rule #1 – All guns are always loaded.
- Rule #2 – Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Rule #3 – Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Rule #4 – Identify your target, and what is behind it.
Today, rules 1 and 2 were broken, and I would argue that rule 3 was as well. The thing with Col. Cooper’s rules, is that we can break one of them, and nobody will get hurt (we were still unsafe though). It’s when we break more than one rule, that is when we really get ourselves into trouble.
Sometimes we need to check ourselves, and really think about our day to day activities with firearms. It’s easy to condition ourselves into thinking that we have holstered our pistol, or bagged it a thousand times, and nothing happened so that activity must be safe, when in reality, we have been unsafe and lucky a thousand times.
I encourage you to take some time right now, and think about all of the things you do with your firearms. Do you ever break these rules? Have you ever let your trigger finger fall onto the trigger before your sights are on target? Do you carry in a leather holster, and point a loaded pistol into your kidney area when trying to open the holster to accept the pistol?
Think about it.