Monday, August 15, 2005

Glocks and Cops

Sorry for sporadic posting lately. I’ve been assigned to a new project at work. It involves a lot of analysis and then writing long reports. The analysis is interesting and a welcome change from the same old, but I write a lot at work and now I’m doing nothing but writing. Between reports, e-mail, and the blog I sometimes feel like my fingers are sloughing off. Something had to give the last few work days and unfortunately it was the blog. Sorry.

James Rummel of Hell in a Handbasket posted about Glocks on Friday (be sure to check comments for further points from him and his loyal readers). He also talked about police proficiency with guns. Both are subjects I know a little about and following is a discursive essay about both—but you already knew that was coming.

Bill “Yosemite Sam” owns a Glock Model 19. It’s a reliable, efficient gun, but I don’t particular like it. For one thing, its lower frame feels like a toy and the gun as a whole looks like a child carved it out of a bar of black soap. Its metal parts have a finish that only a nihilist could love—that is no real finish, just a sort of dull-black coating. Let’s not forget I’m a gun traditionalist.

James mentions “Glock leg.” The phenomenon of supposedly well trained officers shooting their own leg with their Glock. James feels Glock leg stems from the gun’s lack of external controls such as safety and other levers. He has a point, but I think there’s more to Glock leg. It’s a case of too many repetitions of handling a gun and then having to pull the trigger to decock for cleaning.

With a Glock you need to pull the trigger before you dissemble it. There’s no decocking mechanism, no hammer to lower slowly and carefully. You just have to stick your bugger hook into the trigger guard and pull that bang switch.

Someone like a cop or armed citizen who carries a Glock gets used to constantly holstering then drawing if only when going home or coming to work. Eventually the owner has to clean the gun. It’s a simple matter for a person to un-holster, drop the magazine, get distracted, and pull the trigger to decock for cleaning. Suddenly, he's got a case of Glock wall at best, Glock leg, or worse. Glock and other striker-fired pistol makers need to rethink their designs and add a way to decock that sucker.

Here’s something else about a Glock. Since it has no external safety, it must be re-holstered cocked (just like a revolver). I’ve known plenty of cops in one of my two primary careers. One older officer had a case of “revolver toe and floor” he earned while re-holstering.

It’s easy for a cop or an armed citizen for that matter to not remove the finger from the trigger while holstering (particularly after an adrenalin-producing event). The finger strikes the top of the holster and suddenly you need new underwear. A safety lever wouldn’t be a solution since many officers won’t carry a double action semi-auto with an engaged safety, which might be forgotten in an emergency. Here again a decocker is a partial solution.

James mentions that cops aren’t as proficient as many gun bloggers and other gunnies out there. That’s true although there are many exceptions. Most cops have too many things to learn and do. Many police academies have only a week or two devoted to guns including class room instruction. The rest of the three to six months is devoted to physical conditioning, defensive tactics, accident investigation, First Aid or First Responder training, and more topics than I can list here.

Once out of the academy, an officer has many refresher courses and schools to attend. Shooting becomes another work-related chore. Also, many cops in big cities don’t have a history of shooting as kids. They come to it late in life and as part of a job. They don’t develop a love of shooting that many civilian shooters have. A handful may view their gun as an unwelcome reminder of the danger inherent in the job.

I love to shoot and have done so since I was eight years old. I carry a gun frequently, but I don’t carry a gun that I can’t decock before holstering it or cleaning it—and I don’t mean by pulling the trigger, a silly idea at best. Of course, you need to understand that Glocks aren’t my favorite guns in the gun world, so read my opinions with that in mind.

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