All too often people make the mistake of assuming because cops carry guns they are members of the cognoscenti of the firearms community. The sad truth is that normally they are among the neophytes rather than the cognoscenti. So let’s look at the basic gun safety rule this firearms neophyte of a Police Officer with 9 years of carrying a gun violated and how to avoid such a sophomoric mistake.
The late great Jeff Cooper bestowed upon us 4 basic rules of firearms safety which was a simplification of the myriad of safety tips out there. Rule 4 states:
Be sure of your target and what is beyond it
You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.
Now, unless this officer is as strict a parent as Headly Lamar of Blazing Saddles is about chewing gum in line, it is highly unlikely he had positively identified his target. So besides the obvious, how could have he avoided the incident?
The answers is the six Ps of preparedness. Prior Preperation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
An intruder in one’s home is among one of the things man fears the most. It is also one of the things he prepares for least. One of the common things heard from victims is “I never thought it would happen to me.” The law of averages says that it might not, but the law of averages means squat when someone is in your home uninvited.
Planning for an intruder in your home is a lot like creating a family plan in case of a house fire. You do have one of those don’t you? The first step is to plan everyone’s actions. In case of fire that is to exit the area of danger and go to a pre-arranged meeting place that will presumably be safe. If it isn’t you go to the alternate. The same applies to an intruder. While leaving your home is inadviseable, having the entire family make their way to one room would be a good idea. This way you can account for everyone, summon authorities, and easily defend yourselves.
By the way I have seen some house plans that have the Master and Kid’s rooms on opposite sides of the house or even seperate floors. I understand that parents have the desire to have wild monkey sex without disturbing the kiddies, but for the sake of safety pick a house that makes it easy for the kids to move to the safe room (preferably with you in it) without putting them in harms way. Take a long lunch break during school days or send the kiddies to grandma’s when you’re gonna do the wild thing.
Now that I have the Public Service Announcement out of the way, lets get back to business. How do you think having a plan would have prevented the officer’s daughter from getting shot? If you answered “Because she was unaccounted for” get yourself a cookie. This may have alerted the father that the intruder may well be his wayward daughter returning home from her own trip into the animal kingdom and made him doubly cautious before pulling the trigger.
Another critical item is a means of identifying the target without placing it in harms way while still maintaining your advantage of surprise. For this I recommend the humble flashlight. Preferably one of the really bright ones from Streamlight or SureFire. These are so bright that they have been known to cause momentary paralysis to those they are aimed at. I prefer the hand-held ones myself. Weapon mounted lights are great and they make a lot of sense from the “grab-n-go” point of view but think of this; anything you light up with a weapon mounted light also has a loaded gun pointed at it. If you have an unaccounted for family member, you may not want to be doing that.
Finally we come to practice. You practice your plans for a house fire right? (You do have a plan for a house fire?) You should also do it for an intruder. If your plan includes using a firearm to defend yourself get to the range and practice with it regularly once a month minimum. I also strongly advise competing with it (this can count as your practice) with IDPA style competition being the best in my opinion.
So there you have it. Have a plan, have the right equipment, practice, practice, practice and your chances of making the news for shooting someone who didn’t deserve it will be greatly reduced.