LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — The Office of the Inspector General for Los Angeles County just released a damning report of the rising incidence of negligent discharges from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The alleged source of the problem, according to that report? No external manual safeties on their newly issued striker-fired S&W MP 9s.
“The information suggested that the recent adoption of a new standard issue pistol that was not equipped with an external manual safety had led to a steep rise in unintended discharges.”
Executive Summary, OIG
This report was released in December of 2015 and has already made waves at news sources like CNN for the incredulity of assigning blame to a pistol and not to the actual culprit: bad habits reinforced in training and experience.
Imagine for a moment that you, as a concealed carrier, took your pistol out of its holster and accidentally touched off the trigger resulting in a negligent discharge. Who’s fault is it? Well, in a court of law — it’d likely be yours. While a crack defense team would try to assign the blame to something as superficial as the lack of an external safety mechanism, the real problem that needed to be addressed is control on the finger as it nears the trigger. Where have we heard this part from?
It’d be one of the principle rules of firearm safety that’s reinforced at every step in the training process.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
We covered a similar subject several months back where LASD was blaming their increase in negligent discharges on the fact that many of the deputies put their finger on the trigger before properly identifying their targets. The problem was correctly identified back in June.
Why is the Inspector General of Los Angeles County now assigning blame to a piece of equipment that should never be trusted to ensure the safety of one’s self or others?
Let’s take a time-out for a second. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is a fantastic organization of professional, courageous officers. They have some pretty rough stretches, long shifts, and hard situations to deal with. This article is in no way demonizing or degrading the services that they perform on a daily basis for the citizens of Los Angeles County.
What this is, is a clear wake-up call that better training leads to better performance. If training is not uniform, consistent, and true to real life situations, performance will suffer. As concealed carriers, this is something we’re constantly faced with because law enforcement isn’t our job — yet we may be called upon to act in our own self-defense or that of another. Thus, we have to make that commitment to train, maintain self-sufficiency, and be constantly vigilant.
While the Inspector General is invariably covering his own guys’ behinds, it’s pretty clear that Smith & Wesson isn’t to blame for this issue. The only safety that counts is the one in your brain and the one on your finger — the rest is just decoration.