So as an exercise, just watch the news for items about accidental discharges of police officers' handguns. They don't happen too often, but when they do you'll notice a trend. Odds are it will have involved a Glock.
Are you ready for this? Last week in San Antonio a police officer's handgun accidentally discharged. Here's the Associated Press article about it:
SAN ANTONIO Apr 21, 2005 — This is one story they'll be telling around the San Antonio Police Department for a long time. An off-duty officer was at a San Antonio auto auction house yesterday when nature called, a police spokesman said.
Officer Craig Clancy strolled to the appropriate facility and was lowering his trousers when his pistol fell from his waistband. When Clancy fumbled for the falling firearm, it went off, twice.
One of the bullets nicked a bit of floor tile into the leg of a man who was washing his hands nearby. That man was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Police internal affairs [department] is investigating.
What kind of gun was it? KSAT called it a "service revolver." But, that had to be wrong. The phrase "service revolver" is left over from the days of "Andy of Mayberry," and it would be a rare, and probably very old, police officer who carries a revolver today. The San Antonio Police Department Armory website says that all SAPD cadets must qualify with a Glock 22, and the captions on the photos on the page say that the Glock 22 is the issue gun and that the Glock 27 is approved for off duty usage. The website has an email link, and one week ago I emailed a query as to the make of the gun involved in the accidental discharge. As of today, still no reply. But I'm 95% sure that it was a Glock.
Here's the problem. There's no manual safety, and there's no grip safety on a Glock. They are made specifically to minimize the time between the first touch of the hand the discharge of the bullet. Police officers and lot of civilian shooters love them for that very reason. And they are very popular in IDPA competition.
The Glock internal safety prevents it from discharging when it is dropped, and the only way it should discharge is by pulling the trigger. But the trigger is so easy to pull. In a Glock pistol, the striker is 2/3 retracted by the cycling action of the pistol so that when the trigger is pulled it retracts the striker the final 1/3 of its movement and then releases the striker which fires the pistol. [ Source. ] So those who want to compare it to a revolver should keep in mind that it's more like a cocked revolver.
The San Antonio officer, according to the story, dropped the handgun then tried to catch it. And that's when the trouble began. While fumbling with it either his finger or thumb pulled the trigger. Something similar happened at the Midland Police Department range two years ago, however in that case the bullet struck the officer's other hand.
There's an instinctual response to try to catch something that's dropped. And some handgun competition rules even seem to encourage that by disqualifying a competitor who drops a loaded firearm, e.g., International Defense Pistol Association Rules. But Glock owners need to learn that if the handgun is dropped they should just let it fall to the ground and face whatever consequences that might bring rather than risk a discharge by fumbling for it.
New Shooters, Use Something Other Than a Glock
If I didn't know it before the article of a year ago, I certainly know it now. Glock owners are very passionate about their Glocks. I think they probably tell themselves something like this: "Sure, an accident can happen, but it won't happen to me." Okay, you win. I know I'm not going to dissuade Glock owners. But, please be very careful. And when you are talking about handguns to new shooters, please be aware there are other handguns out there that have more built in safety features, and a new shooter is better off with something other than a Glock. With an unforgiving handgun like a Glock accidents happen even to the most experienced shooter. Just ask that San Antonio police officer.
Another Accidental Glock Discharge
In an unrelated matter, Minute of Angle has an item about a DEA agent conducting a gun safety demonstration for a class of school kids in Orlando, FL.
The agent holds up his handgun, removes the magazine and says "I'm the only one in this room that I know of professional enough to carry a Glock 40." And then KA-BLAM! He accidentally shot himself in the leg with the bullet that was left in the chamber. That was simply a dumb mistake. But wouldn't you know it? It was a Glock. And that was an excellent demonstration of how easy they are to shoot. If the handgun had a simple external safety lever then the accident probably wouldn't have happened.
Minute of Angle provides a link where you can watch the video in WMV of the incident. It's priceless! The poor guy is obviously wounded, but it's hard not to chuckle as he tries to carry on as if it's no big deal. And the kids! They're practically in full panic mode when he reaches for a long gun. Via Lone Star Times.
Update: See related entry of 11/30/05 titled Glock handguns -- another accidental discharge.