Interesting story, but I don't agree with all of his conclusions.
As for the safety issue, I know that everytime I carried a 9MM into combat situations (over Iraq, over Bosnia, yada yada) in my survival vest, it was "hot." Loaded, safety off, ready to go. The military trains that way because if the situation warranted you pulling the weapon out, you were going to shoot anyway and the safety would simply slow you down. I pulled lots of Gz and moved around in the cockpit a lot, never discharging the weapon. This is not an unsound procedure.
Unloading procedure? Don't know how the rest of the world does it, but using a clearing barrel precludes an inadverdent discharge from travelling anywhere, period. Unloading a 9MM isn't rocket science, but having a simple, proven safety feature is prudent. Avbug--were'nt you a cop in a previous life? Is that how they do it?
Yep, it was absolutely stupid to shoot himself in the butt. I cannot imagine a scenario where that would happen in a properly supervised armory. That leads back to training and supervision, which the author does appropriately label as a factor in the problem.
The bigger issue is the fact that Guardsmen shouldn't be in the airports in the first place--the author nails that one. This is just
another face-saving gesture designed to placate the American public, who is by and large far too smart to fall for such short-term, inneffective measures.
On the bright side, at least these guys and gals have ammo--I had heard that many were not even loaded.
I don't have any comment about the use of the gaurd at the airport; I don't believe it makes much difference, other than perhaps making the public at large feel better (and probably keeps the media off the politician's backs).
As for the manual of arms, there is nothing wrong with keeping the M9 (92FS) chambered with the safety off, particularly considering it's a double action pull for the first shot. I routinely carry a 1911A1 with the safety engaged, a round in the chamber, and of course, the hammer cocked ("condition one'). This is not dangerous, so long as the user has adequate familiarity with the manual of arms and the particular mode of carry, to do it properly.
Likewise, the author of that article hadn't a clue about clearing a weapon. The use of the water or sand barrel to clear the weapon is standard for the military and many police departments, aleit unnecessary. However, it's not uncommon for officers and soldiers to still get a discharge when clearing the weapon (in which case the barrel becomes very necessary). Poor training, poor manual of arms. However, that's to be expected with any large organization, to some degree. Accidents happen.
I believe the author was correct in his assertion that we do not need individuals at the airport who are so lacking in their abilities that they manage to not only discharge the weapon unintentionally, but shoot themselves in the process. The Berretta is not an easy weapon to discharge accidentally; one must really screw up. That means either a collossal mistake, or a user that demonstates a high degree of incompetence.
Either way, we don't need such people at the airport.
I vote against soldiers at airports and in favor of armed pilots, but fewer and fewer people are asking me these days, lol.
Is it just me, or do any of you other former ground pounders wonder why the Guardsmen are wearing their Hollywood Battle Rattle? Someone made the decision that they don't need helmets, but they DO need full LBE/LBV/LCE (whichever variant their state issues), including CANTEENS! It's such a laugh. Are their bosses concerned they'll become entrenched in a firefight so lengthy that the poor young soldiers can't get to the drinking fountain?
There's really no good way to sling an M-16, as many of you will remember. For those young men and women fortunate enough to be issued M-4s, this isn't a problem. Last week, though, just as I noticed how silly the canteens are, I saw a young man struggling with his "over the shoulder, forward assist digging in the small of his back, barrel down" method and was shocked, SHOCKED, at his lack of muzzle awareness. With the magazine in the well, this rifle was pointing this way and that, up in the air. He was doing the herky jerk when the sling got stuck on the CANTEEN.
The discharge barrel is a time honored and proven method, but I personally know a sergeant major who lost the respect of his battalion with not one but two rounds fired into the barrel.
On the other hand, did anyone see the NRA mag promoting armed pilots? We lost some sleep over the so-called "jackas$ rig" the fella in the pictures was wearing.
I'm under the impression (from some good people) that the clip in the M-16 is not loaded but the clip on their belt is. Can anyone comment on this? A
Also about muzzle awareness, I saw two guardsmen in BWI a few weeks ago walking around with the M-16 across their chest almost horizontal. You could clearly see the looks on PAX faces' as the business end of the rifle was swung around as they wondered thru the terminal.
The most telling statement in the piece is "Now, I don't claim to be a firearms expert..." He then describes third hand how the guardsman "fires" into a barrel to clear the chamber. He should have known better than to repeat what he thought channel 4 told him about what the soldier's superiors told them about the clearing procedure, without questioning it. He then goes on to describe "the safe way" which is boilerplate and correct except that he leaves out the requirement to dry fire the weapon as a final step to make it safe. This is most likely the procedure used by the Guard.
Blaming the level of training that guardsman receive is a little off mark since an ordinary soldier is trained for combat situations where firearms safety training beyond a certain point is a waste. The accurate criticism is that the soldiers are being put into a situation for which they aren't trained. There's a saying that the two most unsafe people with guns in the world are a G.I., and a cop on the street, in that order. I'm not talking about elite units like Rangers, etc. And there are some cops whom I wouldn't worry about being behind me with a gun.
All that being said, it doesn't seem all that difficult to teach soldiers the four basic rules of firearm safety, the third of which is to keep your finger off the trigger till you see your sights on something you intend to make a hole in. It sounds simple, but training in even simple things is a matter of repetition, which is generally lacking in a G.I.'s training.
So why don't they put better trained people in the airports? They probably will, after some twenty year old who doesn't know enough to keep his muzzle pointed in a safe direction, and his finger off the trigger, accidentally sprays a few .223 rounds around a crowded concourse. Until then, the cheapest solution that makes the public feel safe will be used.
As for his solution of training and arming flight crews... Who does he think is going to pay for this training? What about screening of pilots? What happens to the at least half of the pilots who are unsuitable for a law enforcement type job. Do they have to stop flying, or are we going to arm them anyway and hope one of them doesn't do something really stupid , like shooting himself in the butt, or worse.
Prevention, which Americans hate to pay for, is always much cheaper than a cure. If you find a need for a firearm on an airliner then your prevention has been sorely lacking.
Much like extra fuel in one's tanks, it is far better to have a firearm and not need it, than need it, and not have it.
The requirement to dry fire the weapon is a catch-all given to those who don't train enough, or are not well enough trained, with their weapon. Especially in the case of the Berretta, which does not neet to be dryfired (which is harmful to the firing pin), one can perform an empty chamber check, then safely lower the hammer in the same manner as safing the traditional 1911. (Or simply decock the weapon with the safety lever, as per SOP).
There is no reason not to carry the M9 with the safety engaged, as disengaging it presents no appreciable time loss, and the M9 is not used in a quick-draw situation; even clearing the flap holster takes too long. If one is not behind cover, or one has not alredy begun presentation when the shooting starts, it's a little late. Unsafing the weapon should be a natural reaction of the thumb which takes place upon clearing the holster, and the body, as the weapon is raised to acquire the target. The trigger finger should remain outside the gaurd until the front sight is finding the target, and should only enter the gaurd upon preparation to stage the trigger, and fire.
Shooting one's self in the posterior while attepting to present the weapon, or holster it, is poor form. (Not to mention painful). To do so in a crowded terminal is criminal.
For the previous question about loaded weapons; there may be cases in which an empty magazine is placed in the M-16 or A4, and the weapon carried that way, but it would be unusual. There is no point having to withdraw an empty mag to insert a fresh mag. If the weapon is unloaded, you will see no magazine. If there is a magazine in the weapon, consider it loaded.
Consider all weapons loaded, no matter what their status. There is NO other way to consider a firearm, and hence, no reason to ever have an unloaded weapon. All weapons are loaded, weather there is ammunition in them or not. Far too many people get shot accidentally with "unloaded" weapons.
I agree with the assertion that the soldier in question was placed in an environment in which he did not belong. However, having placed him there, training to be there was sorely lacking. Considering that the gaurd is called not only for field combat, but civil defense situations, one should be prepared to stand gaurd in a civil facility without fear of shooting one's self, or the public at large.
The reason the guardsmen are all wearing their web gear and are in tactical mode is so that when the SWAT teams show up the cops won't feel like overdressed idiots. There is nothing funnier than cops in black on black ninja suits with every freakin' gadget they ever saw in SOF strapped to them or bolted on their weapons.
BTW, I disagree with the idea of carrying the Baretta around with the safety off. Swiping the safety off should be an automatic response. If it isn't go back to the range and train some more.
Locked and cocked, safety on with a 1911 is safe and prudent in the hands of a competent pistolero. Unfortunately that eliminates about 75% of most folks that routinely carry a pistol.
Don't want to use an active safety? Buy a Sig, a Glock or a revolver.
"The requirement to dry fire the weapon is a catch-all given to those who don't train enough, or are not well enough trained"
"There is NO other way to consider a firearm, and hence, no reason to ever have an unloaded weapon."
The site doesn't allow me to send you a private email, so I'll have to take you to task in public.
Perhaps you believe the first quote above. You are wrong. The most highly trained people in the world dry fire. If a Berretta cannot stand up to dry firing, then perhaps it isn't safe to fire at all It's just wear and tear. I dry-fire my $2,000 competition 1911s many thousands of times a year and my gunsmith doesn't complain. When there are other people around, and the firearm is to be made cold, dry firing is required for the witnesses. This is the way it is done in the action shooting sports where ranges are kept cold. Lest you are tempted to disparage shooting "games", I'll point out that IPSC (the dominant action shooting sport) has become the model for training in gun handling (not tactics, so don't go there) among elite armed forces, the FBI, and more enlightened police forces.
The second statement above... I can think of a few cases where a firearm should be unloaded. 1. transporting it. 2. storing it. 3. cleaning it. 4. gunsmithing. 5. departing the firing line at a cold range. Perhaps your train of thought just got derailed there.
Dryfiring should only be conducted with a spent cartridge, snapcap, or other dummy round in the chamber. The inertia of the pin without a stop can damage the pin. Generally speaking, dry firing is considered very bad form. Dry firing without a live round, but something to absorb the inertia of the firing pin, is another matter. That is acceptable, and necessary for weapon familiarity. Nobody gets good with a weapon without extnesive presentation, and dry firing using a dummy round in the chamber (but using a snap cap is not the same as dry firing without a round or device in the chamber).
No matter if a round is in the chamber, every weapon should always be considered loaded. Certainly transporting a firearm and some conditions of use dictate an unloaded weapon. However, the firearm should always be regarded as loaded. Considering that weapons should always be regarded as loaded, I keep one or more weapons in my safe at home loaded for rapid response, and speed loaders and magazines prepared. Most remain unloaded to protect the springs, but an unloaded weapon is a wonderful conversation piece, but of little use beyond that.
IPSC is not the model for weapons handling, and never has been. It's not realistic; it's a game. IDPA started out as being closer to a proper model for handling, but has also become a game. Both are similiar to SASS and other CAS type sporting events. None truly reflect tactical training or range requirements, and the need to dry fire a weapon has never been reflected in range ettiquette. It's an organizational issue; some places you'll be banned from the range if you dry fire without something in the chamber.
Considering the Berretta was designed to be decocked with a round in the chamber, dropping the hammer using the decock is a traditional method of "safing" the weapon. I don't like to see a weapon dry fired. Having carried and qualified with the M9 (92FS), I prefer to drop the magazine, cycle the slide once, check the chamber by feel and visually, and then use my right hand to depress the trigger while lowerint he hammer between my left thumb and forefinger while grasping the slide in the left hand. While this is performed, the weapon remains downrange. There is NO question the weapon is unloaded and safe. Or "cold." To each his own; one must do what one is required by the respective organization, and if IDPA, a department, agency, battalion, or service requires firing in the red barrell, then so be it.
Departing the range , or entering the range, the weapon should be locked open with the magazine removed.
Incidentally, this site does allow you to send private mail. I get it all the time, and you can send it any time you like. It's a design feature of the site.
I don't personally know any agencies that endorse IPSC or IDPA. I once watched a Leatham film as part of a recurrent course on a department; it was personal property of the weapons training officer, and wasn't departmental policy. He made some comparisons between IPSC shooting and professional carriage, but it was liberally applied, and only to make a point. If individual team members and officers participate in IPSC, IDPA, or any other shooting sports, it's on an individual basis. IPSC doesn't represent the standard for any department in handling. Some may use similiar techniques, but that's only because the techniques make sense, not because they're any more enlightened than the rest of us.
I don't wish to discuss firearms safety on this site any further, as it's far from the intent of the site. The origional point of the thread was simply to refer the viewer to an article about airport securitity, one of whom shot himself. If a further discussion of manual of arms, range ettiquette, or other such topics is in order, please contact me by private message. I'll be happy to elaborate there.