Skip to comments.Experts Find Glocks Prone To Accidents
Posted on 08/07/2002 6:24:01 AM PDT by jalisco555
click here to read article
Without the NY modification, the Glock trigger is pretty light and will get you in trouble if you disregard RULE No. 1 as stated earlier, " Keep your friggin' finger off the friggin' trigger" unless you plan on shooting something.
Of course, the addition of the NY trigger makes the gun tougher to shoot well, since the trigger pull goes from around 5 lbs to 8 or 9, but it may help prevent negligent discharges like those in the article.
No. *All guns are always loaded.* *Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are aligned with that which you intend to shoot.*
for August 1997.
Text By Archy Copyright © 1997
In the play Hamlet, [H.IV:5] William Shakespeare tells us that "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but battalions". Though written in a day when swords were the most common personal armament, he could easily have been writing about accidental discharges from firearms- particularly automatic weapons. For all the sorrow they cause, they can't be reversed, only remembered, and the only good that can come of them is the lesson that they teach their survivors not to repeat them.
There's nothing new about them. It's even possible that the very first discharge of the first firearm may have not been as intended: since the early Chinese fireworks bombs loaded with black powder in bamboo shattered their containers spectacularly, experimenting handloaders seeking magnum effects needed only to reinforce the bamboo tube with cord or wire wrapping and additionally plug the end joints with rocks or plugs cemented in place with dried mud or mortar. When one end plug, tamped or wadded less effectively than those at the other end flew out with lethal force, some bright tinkerer may next have had the idea of doing so intentionally- particularly if that first flying projectile struck some forgotten bystander with lethal force. We've come a long way since then, but accidents will happen.
There's even some comment that those "accidental discharges" should be termed "unintentional discharges" or "nondirected discharges" in that those terms make the sickening thought of what might have been somehow less horrible.
So I'm happy that though I've been around a few of them, I've never had one. It might be that the thought of an unwanted discharge from an automatic weapon capable of twenty shots, more or less, in a second or two, whether a single round or a repetitious rattleburst, is a sufficiently scary thought as to inspire safer gun handling. It may be that the auto weapon hopefully reaches the hands of an operator who has worked their way through a progression of successively complicated weapons. It may just be that there are comparatively fewer lead-spreading fire-breathing sprayguns looking for a handler who will have an accident with them. But whether one shot or a string of them results, whether injury or damage results, they're a bad thing.
Though no comparison should be made of the deaths or injuries that have resulted from such discharges should be attempted, a record expense for material damage to government property not involving human injury was recorded a few years before the adoption of the Beretta M9 pistol by a bored guard with an M1911A1. At a remote airfield in Greenland, the aircraft and hangers of one USAF Weather Reconnaissance Squadron were under guard as top-secret gear, since those planes would overfly the remains of areas targeted following nuclear exchanges in the event of global conflict.
Accordingly, one lonely guard was left to entertain himself over a repeated four-hour shift with no other entertainment that his .45, the reading of books and magazines while on the duty having been forbidden as "distracting" and punished with Article 15 proceedings. So the lonely guard instead equipped himself with an extra magazine of dummy ammunition and practiced his fast-draw techniques from the GI holster (it can be done pretty fast, with enough practice.) Eventually, it happened.
The gun was pulled in a blur, the hammer dropped and the round in the chamber fired. The good news was: no one was hurt. That was not the only news. After clearing his pistol, the shaken guard began to wonder where the slug had gone. After a short search, he found a neat half-inch diameter hole in one of the hanger's twin doors. Glancing outside, he noted that on the exit side the sheet metal had peeled back like a banana peel, and with a little work, some putty and paint, it was possible that no one would ever know.
He found an unlocked toolbox with a hammer and neatly rearranged the exit hole into its earlier configuration. Some caulking and gray paint took care of the rest, and a "NO SMOKING" sign on the inside of the door, moved just a few inches, covered the trail of the .45 slug even better.
But during his work on the exterior side, he had noticed a plane parked outside the hanger that hadn't been there before. Though there was no crew around to have heard the shot, there was an airfield tow tractor hooked to the plane, and it might be that a deal would have to be made with some sympathetic ramp-rat.
He threw on his parka and went outside, to find an enormous radar/electronics pod under the wing facing the hanger. Fearing the worse, he checked the multimillion dollar accessory for a bullet hole, but thankfully it was clean. He checked for the tow operator, but he had fled for the comfort of a warm barracks or mess hall. As he started back for the hanger he happened to glance at the big pod, now nearly touching the ground as the air leaked out of the port side landing gear's tires, and he finally figured out where his .45 slug went.
A funny story? Sure, and I laughed too when a now-retired small arms facility director told it as a part of a safety training lecture. I didn't laugh nearly as much when I heard about DEA Special Agent Bob Lightfoot, who was 34 when he died as a result of a firearms accident on November 23, 1977 in Bangkok, Thailand. So many DEA agents have died in the line of duty, in plane crashes, during an office collapse, from hostile fire- and of course in the Oklahoma City bombing (where they were on duty in their office that day, unlike the ATF staffers who had been told not to come in that morning). They don't need any additional fatalities from improper or unsafe firearms handling. But it has happened.
DEA has lost and will lose too many good people in the hazardous course of their job to lose any more to such accidents; I hope Special Agent Lightfoot is the very last one. But of course, it's more probable that he won't be. Neither are those accidents limited to the DEA: back when Henry Kissinger was still the Secretary of State, there was an accidental discharge of an Uzi aboard the Secretary's plane, though the Uzi is about as fool-and-soldier-proof as weapons can get.
More recently, on 28 July of this year, international wire services reported that a security agent for current Secretary of State Madeline Albright shot himself in the foot "while checking his weapon", according to a State Department spokesman. The accident occurred at the Sunway Lagoon Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where the agent was quartered on the same floor as the Madame Secretary- who was reportedly not injured during the incident.
And while the BATF blacksuits charging into the church at Waco, Texas seem to have managed some accidental shots during that action, those BATF agents who died that day appear to have suffered from deliberate execution from behind rather than unaimed stray fire. That's a tradition too, in a way: that agency which claims to be the descendent of Chicago T-Man Elliot Ness and his prohibition-era rumrunner-busters neglects to mention the more than 2000 innocent bystanders and unarmed suspects shot by the T-men during the Prohibition days. Perhaps it's a tradition that they have to shoot somebody, even if it's each other.
Of course, County and local lawmen are no more exempt from those unwanted events than their federal cousins. One Indiana sheriff's department had the "special weapons" out for inspection one day, with preloaded magazines present. Now at that time, the M1 carbine could be found in the department's cars, and the semiautomatic Remington M11 shotgun was the local choice of backup firepower carried in the patrol cars. Both of these fire from a closed bolt, as do most of the .22 semiautomatics with which the deputies were familiar and the semiauto shotguns with which a few of them may have hunted.
So a too-unfamiliar operator placed a loaded box magazine in his department's M1928A1 Thompson, with the selector switch in the "semi" position and the safety in the "fire" position. The bolt handle was pulled to the rear, as is necessary when chambering a first round in a closed-bolt weapon like a carbine or semiauto shotgun- but the Thompson fires from the open bolt. The weapon's bolt seemed stuck to the rear. Perhaps, he reasoned, there was a magic button or switch to release the bolt, like the carrier release on those auto shotguns. He turned the safety to "safe"- and nothing happened. He turned the other knob (the selector switch) to "full-auto"- and nothing happened. He turned the safety back again- to "fire"- and again, nothing happened... and then he touched the trigger. The good news was: neither he nor anyone else was hurt. The bad news was that he was in the radio room.
But it shouldn't be thought that the Thompson is unsafe in any sense. The safety of the Thompson blocks it's sear, which thereby keeps the bolt securely in the closed position when that bolt is in the forward position, safety on safe. Similarly, the safety of the M3 and M3A1 grease guns that replaced the Thompson also locks the open-bolt firing grease gun's breech either to the rear ready for firing, or in the forward position, ready to be cocked. That's an improvement over other similar weaponry of other major WW2 powers, which were notorious for accidental firings, particularly when dropped or suddenly jarred.
The German MP38 was so prone to such discharges that an improved bolt handle was designed, added to later production guns [thence known as MP38/40] and retrofitted to the older weapons. With a loaded magazine in place, rearward bump of the gun could cause the bolt's inertia to return the bolt against its recoil springs sufficiently for the magazine to feed a cartridge to the chamber, but not so far back as to catch the bolt against the sear. When the spring then returned the bolt to its forward position, the gun fired that waiting cartridge, usually then returning to the fully cocked position, but of course by then the damage had already been done. All too often it was to a nearby bystander, but with the neat folding stock of the German MP, it was quite possible for the gun's operator to be pointing it beneath his chin. The British were no better equipped with the various Marks of Sten Guns, though a latching bolt handle also appeared on some, but not all of that weapon's nearly three million examples.
Accidents with the Sten in the postwar period were common enough that the British progressed with the design of the Sterling SMG from the wartime Patchett design; Israeli inventor Uziel Gal, taking a different approach, incorporated a grip safety on the gun that was to replace the Sten in his nation's military services, and other postwar guns such as the Madsen and Beretta M12 also shared that safety feature.
Later Uzi production included a ratchet to catch and lock the bolt if the cocking handle slipped in a wet or tired hand while loading the gun. It's often been thought that Marines using the .45 Reising M50 SMG during the Second World War disdained it because less than perfect interchangeability of parts rendered the gun less than reliable, but conversations with former Marine Raiders who carried the gun, as well as at least two knowledgeable police officers very familiar with the Reising in their respective but widely separated jurisdictions offer another reason too: the cocking knob located beneath the barrel forward of the magazine invited an operator's habit of turning the gun upside-down during the charging process, in which position the gun could easily be pointed at one's foot. This is an undesirable attribute for an infantryman's weapon, and was also not especially to be wanted for a flatfoot law enforcement officer in a day when semiautomatic pistols were thought to be too complicated for most cops to safely operate.
The Reising, of course, was a closed-bolt gun, so those who think that it's the open-bolt slam-firing mechanism of some other automatic weapon's design that's at fault may take no comfort from those events, nor from a more recent one.
A qualified shooter and gunsmith of the Memphis Police Department was adjusting the sights of a MP5 submachinegun when his hand passed before the muzzle of the weapon as he fired, with a round striking his finger. Investigated by that department's Security Squad, he was given a reprimand, and presumably, some first aid. But Wait!- that has nothing to do with the internal function of the gun, no matter how it's bolt functions. That sort of thing can happen- and has- with almost any weapon open bolt or closed, fully automatic, semi or single shot.
Exactly. It can. And it has. Don't do that with your hand, or anyone else's, or to the tires of an aircraft carrying a multimillion dollar radar pod waiting to be crushed, or to a pal in the back of a pickup. Don't do it to the roof of the range shack, or your car, or to the ceiling of your living room or den. It's unsettling, sets a bad example, and wastes ammunition. There is a safety device which can help prevent some such accidents, though not all.
It's the one between your ears. It's the one that remembers The Four Rules and lives by them, and insists on their consideration from others. The gun is no more or less safe than the person behind it, though some mechanical features require more understanding than others. Some people will never understand or accept any mechanical safety device, and for some none is necessary. And some users would never need to know because they're only going to have one accident anyway, and it will be the last one. The angels know their names and their mistakes; I don't.
Use that safety between your ears. It's the only one you can count on.
THE FOUR RULES:
*All firearms are loaded. - There are no exceptions. Don't pretend that this is true. Know that it is and handle all firearms accordingly. Do not believe it when someone says: "It isn't loaded."
*Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy. - If you would not want to see a bullet hole in it do not allow a firearm's muzzle to point at it.
*Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. - Danger abounds if you keep your finger on the trigger when you are not about to shoot. Speed is not gained by prematurely placing your finger on the trigger as bringing a firearm to bear on a target takes more time than it takes to move your finger to the trigger.
*Be sure of your target and what is behind it. - Never shoot at sounds or a target you cannot positively identify. Know what is in line with the target and what is behind it (bullets are designed to go through things). Be aware of your surroundings whether on a range, in the woods, or in a potentially lethal conflict.
1. Remove magazine.
2. Cycle slide, and check chamber to be certain it's now empty.
Convoluted? Anyone who can't handle that basic procedure shouldn't be trusted with anything more complicated than a nightstick or entrenching tool.
I wonder who designated this person an expert?
"We're in a society where we're making inanimate objects responsible for our stupidity," he said. "You have to put warnings on things. You can't put your dog in a microwave oven to dry him. Common sense has to take over here."
If this guy was a Freeper, this should be the quote of the day.
In other words, the female probation officer lied when first asked about what happened. She probably didn't want to hurt her sculpted nails by racking the slide after she removed the magazine.
What I also find curious is that all the new recruits are required to carry a firearm, while it is optional for veteran officers. I think this probation department has a whole host of problems.
The ONLY reason a gun has a safety is to keep the weapon from discharging when the trigger IS NOT pulled. Period. Any revolver goes BANG when the trigger is pulled, just like a Glock. The Glock has three safeties, all disengage when the trigger is pulled, if the trigger is not pulled, the Glock doesn't go bang, and I've never heard of a Glock firing unless the trigger is pulled. I would suggest that if you, and apparently the officers above, can't handle a firearm without pulling the trigger unintentionally, than you have NO business owning or carrying a gun.
I'm not anti-Glock but you go too far with this statement. I would put Sigs up against Glocks on reliability. Aside from that I have to agree the Glock is fine for law enforcement use IF officers are well trained and kept current through retraining on handling proceedures, to avoid negligent discharges (they should not be referred to as "accidental."
It's hard to make the point that Glocks are only dangerous in the hands of beginners, because seasoned handgunners appear to be running into trouble with them as well. Negligence is always the cause, but the bullets are still getting fired.
I have a first-model Glock 17 9mm, but it's been sitting in the safe for years. I just prefer the 1911 with a time-proven external safety over the Glock that has a time-proven problem with safety. If the US Military had adopted the Glock, we'd be hearing about a lot more ADs than we do with any other pistol.
Also, modifications to the Glock's trigger pull (either lighter of heavier) is a liability.
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