Category Archives: Safety

A Mess of Accidents: Army Edition

army_gun_safety_poster_detailFor over ten years, the Army has put its fatal mishaps online in the form of Preliminary Loss Reports. Initially, there seemed to be mostly aviation and privately-owned-vehicle (Army jargon: “POV”)  reports. But for the last several years, the Army has included weapons-related accidents, both involving duty weapons and training, and POWs (you break out the acronym!). Guess which category seems to involve more mishaps? If you guessed privately-owned, personal weapons, you’re right, despite the millions of rounds Army soldiers fire annually in often risky exercises.

In the future, the Army Combat Readiness Center (the latest iteration of the frequently-renamed Safety Center, trimmed considerably from its overweening 90s days) hopes to incorporate more varieties of personnel loss, as explained by one paragraph of their FAQ.

As of 4 Mar 05, the PLRs that have been released are on accidental losses (deaths). However, as the process matures, PLRs will be dispatched on losses from hostile activity, crimes, suicide, and medical circumstances as well as accidents.

You can search the database here. It’s a typically lame Army IT implementation, 20 years behind industry; you can’t permalink results, and the actual facts are contained in gaudy (but illustration-free) .pdfs. But hey, you can get to the data if you’re willing to tabulate it yourself.

Significant Duty Weapon Incidents

ND-shot-in-footDuty Weapon mishaps are about twice as common as POW mishaps in absolute numbers, which is interesting; because every soldier is supposed to fire his duty weapon at least once a year, and combat arms soldiers fire them with great regularity, but only some of them own personal weapons. (The Army makes it very difficult, for example, for single enlisted soldiers, who are usually required to live in barracks, to own personal firearms. The Military Police branch and most posts’ Provost Marshal (senior MP officer) are as anti-gun as anyone on Mike Bloomberg’s payroll).

In other words, in our opinion, the rate of negligent discharges of privately-owned weapons is much higher than the rate of NDs of service weapons, relative to the opportunities for those NDs.

In our opinion, the relative rarity of duty weapon mishaps results from the Army’s committed safety culture, to the point that safety rules sometime impinge on training realism and verisimilitude. (Every commander and leader has struggled with this balance).

Some units benefit from a sort of papal dispension that allows them to pursue more realism in training, at the price of more risk. Sometimes, that risk comes home to roost.

A 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, Soldier was fatally injured on 9 December 2015 at approximately 2100 local, on Fort Stewart when he was struck by a 5.56 live round while conducting a live-fire exercise. The 21-year-old CPL
was pronounced dead at a local medical center.

And sometimes, complacency downrange bites a guy. Note that the fatality does not appear to be the guy responsible for the accident (it takes some care to read through it and sort out who’s who). Who wants to bear that kind of guilt?

A 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, US Forces- Afghanistan Soldier was killed by the negligent discharge of a M72 Light anti-tank weapon (LAW) on 11 January 2012 at approximately 2100 local. Reportedly a 27-year-old SPC team leader was demonstrating the operation of the LAW to a subordinate team member (22-year-old PFC) who was standing in front of him when it fired striking him in the abdomen. The warhead impacted a wall behind him but did not detonate. Two other Soldiers standing nearby also were injured and all four were evacuated to a medical treatment center. The PFC was unable to be revived and was pronounced deceased.

It’s not clear but it seems like the fatality was caused by the rocket (the fuel is burned and the LAW fully accelerated inside the tube), and the other injuries caused by backblast. The LAW didn’t detonate because the warhead isn’t live right out of the muzzle — or this might have been multiple fatalities.

M72LAW

This actually is an early (Vietnam-era) LAW, but the current ones are externally similar enough. It takes (1) removing the end covers; (2) extending the tube; (3) extending the safety; and, (4) pressing down on the trigger in the rubber boot you can see in front of the rear sight (front is left in this image), to fire this weapon. Once you do, a 66mm rocket comes out of the tube at about 650 fps (A6/A7 version; VN era was 475 fps).

The Army actually has an excellent page of advice on avoiding and (from a leadership point of view) preventing firearms (and explosives) mishaps. Do Read The Whole Thing™, but we’ll pull two lists from there. First, some causative and contributing factors.

Negligent discharges most commonly occur when:

  • cleaning, clearing or performing a functions check on their weapons.
  • entering or exiting vehicles.
  • retrieving, uploading, or emplacing weapons.
  • following a change of mission, duty, or weapon’s status.
  • joking or playing around pointing a weapon at themselves or someone else.
  • handling a foreign weapon they are unfamiliar with.
  • soldiers become distracted and fiddle with a weapon and unmindfully pull the trigger.

The old bugbear of mis-set headspace and timing, and accident ricochet and fragmentation accidents also come in for a dishonorable mention. But the bottom line is this:

As with negligent discharges, these mishaps are often a result of inadequate training, overconfidence, complacency, and indiscipline.

Amen. They also have some positive suggestions. We’ll discuss any of these in the comments, if you like.

Steps to reduce weapons handling risk:

  • Assist leaders in ensuring personnel have adequate training for their assigned weapons.
  • Do not allow personnel to use weapons they have not been trained on or that have not been inspected for serviceability.
  • As one of the first steps in clearing a weapon, ensure personnel remove the source of ammunition (magazine, belt, etc.). Do not allow personnel to clean weapons with a magazine in the weapon.
  • Ensure there is adequate command policy in place regarding authorized holsters. Avoid holsters that orient muzzles towards personnel.
  • Ensure there is adequate policy regarding handling and use of foreign weapons and ammunition.
  • Ensure soldiers use the proper gauge. The M2 and M3 are not interchangeable.
  • Remind soldiers when firing an individual weapon from the gunner’s station to ensure the muzzle has cleared the turret. A good way to do this is to have them put the barrel over the turret.
  • Partner with unit leaders to aggressively change the way soldiers THINK about weapons safety!

We’re not in love with the suggestions that imply that if you make a rule, or a policy, or make some command like an ancient potentate in a fifties’ sword-and-sandal epic, that you have Done Your Bit for safety and can now retire.

Significant Private Weapon Incidents

The database contains at least six accidents from 2013 through 2016. In one, a Fort Carson soldier was shot dead by his 13-year-old son, who mistook Dad for an intruder.

A 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, Soldier was struck by a round fired from a privately owned weapon (POW) on 2 March 2013 at approximately 2200 local in Colorado Springs. The 36- year-old SGT was entering his residence when he was mistaken for an intruder and shot by his 13-year-old son. The SGT was pronounced deceased at a local medical center.

This accident, though, was more typical. Note two things that frequently show up here: an audience, and Judgment Juice (together they add up to, “Hold m’beer an’ watch this!”):

4/3rd Infantry Regiment, (The Old Guard), Fort Myer, Virginia, Soldier was killed as the result of a gunshot wound from a privately owned weapon (POW) on 19 August 2014 at approximately 0300 local in Omaha, Nebraska. The 26-year-old SPC was on PCS leave and was handling a .45 caliber handgun in the presence of friends when he discharged a round which struck him in the head. The Soldier had been consuming alcohol.

Audience and alcohol, again:

A 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, Soldier was killed as the result of a fatal privately owned weapon (POW) gunshot wound on 4 April 2014 at approximately 2030 local in El Paso. The 29-year-old SGT was handling his pistol in his apartment with another Soldier when it discharged. The SGT had been holding it to his temple when the round discharged. He was pronounced deceased at a local medical center. Both Soldiers had been consuming alcohol.

And this one:

A 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Soldier was struck by a round fired from a privately owned weapon (POW) on 12 July 2013 at approximately 0100 local in Oak Grove. The 31-year-old SPC was handling his newly purchased 40 Caliber handgun, while sitting in a POV at an off post residence with three other Soldiers. The SPC fired a round that struck him in the head.

Here’s another, more recent one. You may see a pattern emerging here.

 A 100th Brigade Support Battalion, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, soldier was killed by an accidental discharge on 12 December 2015 at approximately 0145 local in Lawton. The 20-year-old SPC was at a gathering at another soldier’s residence when one of the soldiers began handling a firearm. The SPC was fatally injured when he was struck in the chest by a round fired from the weapon. The soldiers had been consuming alcohol. The SPC was pronounced deceased in route to the hospital. News Article

In that case, the negligent triggerman was arrested for manslaughter.

Not all the mishaps come up as “privately owned weapon” or “POW” in a search. For example, this one is listed along with many others as a “negligent discharge.”

A U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Soldier was killed instantly by a negligent discharge on 23 November 2011 at approximately 0130 local in Fayetteville. The 27- year-old SGT was handling a semi-automatic pistol and showing it to two fellow students (both SPC) when he discharged a round up through his chin killing him. Alcohol use is reported to be a contributing factor in this accident. The SGT redeployed from OEF in November 2009

Alcohol is a causal factor in many of these accidents, as the Safety Center’s Tracey Russell wrote in an article yclept, “Armed and Hammered.”

Six Soldiers lost their lives in fiscal 2012 to off-duty negligent discharge accidents involving privately owned weapons. Alcohol was involved in at least four of the six accidents. In one case, a group of Soldiers consumed alcohol over an extended period one evening at several locations, taking care to use a designated driver or taxi. Then, upon returning to his residence, one of the Soldiers decided to handle his privately owned weapon. While doing so, he inadvertently disengaged the safety mechanism and discharged a bullet into his head.

In another case, a Soldier reportedly pointed a weapon at his friend, a fellow Soldier, to scare him to cure his hiccups. Sadly, his cure worked, and his friend will never have the hiccups again. The Soldier now faces manslaughter charges because he accidently discharged the weapon, killing his friend.

As a citizen of the United States, you have a constitutional right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes. You also have a legal right to consume alcohol if you are 21 or older. However, conventional wisdom and Army statistics indicate that exercising both of these rights at the same time has the serious potential of resulting in a wrong that may be fatal. If you are handling a firearm, wait until you have safely stored your weapon before enjoying that “adult” beverage. If you are already enjoying that beverage, handle your weapons some other time.

That’s pretty mild scolding, compared to past Army anti-gun messaging. And it’s just common sense. But as these mishaps show, soldiers could do with common sense being a smidgen more common.

The capitalized THINK is a reference to the Army’s acronym for its current five-rule version of the three or four Basic Gun Safety Rules. Its principle value is that it comes with a nifty, mnemonic acronym, and we’ll break it out in the Conclusions below.

Tentative Conclusions

Unfortunately, this reinforces our old mantra: “There are no new accidents, just new guys having the same old accidents.” Few of the duty accidents, and none of the privately owned weapon accidents, would have occurred if soldiers just had their heads out of their fourth point of contact.

Some factors we saw in accident after accident:

  1. Several junior personnel together in the absence of adult leadership.
  2. Alcohol. It’s OK to love firearms and Judgment Juice, but they are both jealous lovers and out to be enjoyed in series, not in parallel.
  3. A new (to Joe, anyway) firearm.
  4. Guns at parties (and this can bring #1, #2, and #3 into play all at once).

The Army has been promoting a five-rule alternative to the three (or four) Rules of Gun Safety. It includes a superfluous rule, but in true .mil fashion, does so in the interests of creating an acronym: THINK.

  • Treat every weapon as if it were loaded;
  • Handle every weapon with care;
  • Identify the target before you fire;
  • Never point the weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot;
  • Keep the weapon off safe and your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire.

(For example, see this hunter safety poster, or this one on POWs. But another version used only three rules).

 

If you like the idea of a THINK poster, here’s one in PDF form that you can have printed at any local print shop, Kinkos, etc. As a US Government document it is not encumbered with copyright.

THINK_Weapons_Safety_POW3.pdf

A Mess of Accidents (January, 2016)

Negligent Discharge of the Century. So Far.

ND-shot-in-footWhen there’s no humor in a Polish(-American) joke:

[Maciej] Gorecki was apparently parading his pistol when he put it to [Zdzislaw] Golabek’s head, according to officials.

He pulled the trigger, believing the gun was unloaded.

Golabek, who also lived in the building, died at the scene.

His death has been deemed a homicide.

via Brooklyn man fatally shot friend while showing off gun: cops – NY Daily News.

Anybody remember the first rule of gun safety, class?

A few more details:

Maciej Gorecki, 32, was charged with manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon after allegedly killing his friend and neighbor, 37-year-old Zdzislaw Golabek, in Gorecki’s Sunset Park apartment on 45th St. near Eighth Ave. on Saturday night, authorities said.

With great firepower comes great responsibility. Normally, New York’s “criminal possession” statute is a BS charge, but in this case, it’s hard to disagree with throwing the book at the knucklehead, Gorecki.

Flint, MI: 3-Year Old Shot With Nobody’s Gun

Well, nobody who will admit it’s his, anyway.

Police say the 3-year-old boy found a 9mm pistol and accidentally shot himself in the head just before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20.

He was pronounced dead at the home.

Flint police Chief James Tolbert said four adults and three children were at the home, which belonged to the child’s great-grandparents, of the time of the incident. The adults included the child’s mother, the two homeowners and a relative, Tolbert said.

Tolbert said investigations suggest the adults were not aware there was a gun in the home. Now, he says, police are trying to find out whose gun it was, where it came from and how it got into the hands of a toddler.

I think we all know the answer to this riddle.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Kerlix

It had to happen sooner or later, and it did: a Texan shot himself in the foot in church. Apparently the wound wasn’t very serious, so we feel all the better about mocking him.

Not Funny at All: 4-year Old Kills Self

In Houston, a little kid found his grandfather’s gun, and 4-year-old Bryson Hernandez shot himself in the head.  This disaster happened in Texas; Sheriff’s deputies grilled the kid’s grandparents until his grandmother collapsed, and they may still be charged with something, but that’s the least of it. The little guy expired from his self-inflicted wound.

We’ll join the family in urging you to secure your firearms. On your person or locked up, especially if you have kids or if they visit. This little boy loved Iron Man; he could not have had much of a concept of the lethality of a real firearm.

South Bend, IN: A 2-Year-Old, for crying out loud.

Everything in the last incident up above goes double for this one. Except that the boy is in stable condition. How, in the name of all that’s holy, does a toddler shoot himself?

And Another…

In Alaska, State Troopers are investigating the shooting death of 5-year-old Kaidin Mann in the village of Kohanok this weekend as an accidental shooting.

And Another

In Halifax County, VA, a juvenile negligently discharged a firearm. A woman walking in her driveway was hit in the abdomen; she was airlifted to Duke University Hospital, where she’s in stable condition; deputies expect the juvenile will be charged.

Pune, India: Accident, or Suicide?

It probably doesn’t matter to Devendra Giteshware Gore, but there’s evidence for both possibilities, and the cops seem bemused (if leaning towards the suicide theory):

The woman told the police that after the drinking session on Saturday , Gore took out a pistol and put it to his head.

“He asked the woman whether she loved him and told her he would shoot himself if she said no. The woman thought Gore was joking and did not reply . A few seconds later, he pulled the trigger,” Dhage said. Assistant police inspector B A Nanaware of the Sangvi police station said Gore had gone missing in April last year after his creditors began pursuing him.

Indebtedness, a love affair — if it’s suicide, it’s one more proof that is a final solution to somebody’s transient problems. If an accident, it’s one more indictment of the combination of firearms and Judgment Juice.

Indicentally, being India, where guns are outlawed, the firearm was a homemade contraption, according to the news story.

Louisville: “Anti-Gang Activist,” Yeah, riiight…

His momma demands answers, when her son and his friends were playing with a gun, and Junior assumed ambient temperature. The story contains a clue:

Community activist Chris 2-X says Ruff was involved in his anti-violence effort. He would like to see more gun safety training for young people in West Louisville.

We dunno. Having some ganged-up kid (’cause that’s who these “anti-violence” posers are) whack himself should be a salutary transmission, for those capable of receiving.

Williamsburg, VA: Not a Lot of Experience

A young man playing with a pistol in a Williamburg restaurant learned why that’s a bad idea. Unfortunately he didn’t live to apply the lesson.

Major Greg Riley with Williamsburg Police Department told 13News Now the shooting happened at the Astronomical Pancake House in the 1300 block of Richmond Road just before 1:25 p.m.

Riley said the victim died on his way to the hospital.

He added the victim did not appear to have a lot of experience handling a firearm.

Well, he isn’t going to get any now. People! Learn first. Then carry.

A Mess of Accidents, 2nd Half 2015; Cop-Heavy Edition

ND-shot-in-footWe haven’t done one of these in a while, mostly because new people are still just having the same old accidents. So what’s the point?

But every once in a while we feel tempted to mention a few, because they’re typical, or galactically stupid, or just plain heartbreaking.

An awful lot of these negligent discharges seem to happen to cops. Recently when we looked at the LA County Sheriff’s Office, we saw that they were remarkably blasé about 10 to 30 reported ND’s a year, and they don’t report an ND when it’s within hailing distance of a clearing barrel, unless the round hits somebody. You have to wonder if those curious bullet holes we see in the overhead target tracks at the Indoor Range are the result of mere yahoos, or yahoos with badges?

As far as we can tell, the principal difference is, yahoos without badges get in trouble if they hit somebody. With badges, they’re immunized.

But they’re still yahoos. LEO readers, Don’t Be That Guy

19 Aug 15: Cop Shot Himself, Tried to Frame a Black Guy

A Durham, NC officer named Kelly Stewart pulled over a guy for DWB. You may remember the stumblebums of the Durham PD from their attempt to frame the Duke lacrosse team. Turns out, they’re not any better at gun handling.

…Stewart accidentally shot himself in the leg with his firearm. Soon after, the police department logged the gun’s discharge: “1 shot fired by officer.”

After firing the shot, Stewart dropped his gun in the motorist’s car. Convinced he’d just escaped summary execution, the driver took off.

Crooked DA Roger Echols hid that report and most other evidence, and charged the motorist with shooting Stewart with his own gun. When it became clear the “suspect” had a good lawyer, Echols tried to get the attorney thrown off. The motorist was acquitted on the charge of shooting the cop who shot himself in August.

However, the motorist blew it when he drove off with the panicky cop’s gun in his car. For that, he was convicted of robbery, and the Feds charged him with felon-in-possession for that gun on his car’s floor.

Meanwhile, Stewart, and other cops trained as badly as he, are what you get when you call 911 in Durham. Good luck.

24 Sep 15: NYC Court Officer Shoots Himself in Hand

The Daily News:

Don_Knotts_Barney_and_the_bullet_Andy_Griffith_ShowA state court officer shot himself in the hand Wednesday when his gun accidentally discharged in a Manhattan courtroom, officials said.

The officer, who is in his late 50s, had removed the weapon from its holster in the civil courthouse at 111 Centre St. when the weapon unintentionally fired, said Dennis Quirk, the president of the New York State Court Officers Association.

Gotta love that. “His gun accidentally discharged.” And “the weapon unintentionally fired.” What, now God has reached out His mighty finger and imbued these creations of ore and polymers with the spirit of life, not to mention, free will? Do the guns have minds of their own?

Maybe they do. In this case, the cop didn’t seem to have one of his own. Don’t be that guy.

11 Oct 15: Michigan Golfcart Shooting

The 57-year-old Grandville man, Terry Apol, was the passenger of the golf cart at 6660 20 Mile Rd. The golf cart was driven with a gun being carried on the back of the golf cart.

While driving the cart through a field, the gun went off. The shot hit Apol in the upper left arm.

“The gun went off.” Unexpectedly, eh.

16 Dec 15: Swansea, IL: Retired Police Captain Shot by Gun in Bag

Wow: this appears to be that rare case where the gun did “just go off,” that is, after being dropped. (Many older guns are not drop-safe). Sherman Jumper, 70 was a retired captain in the East St. Louis, IL, Police Department.

Swansea police said the incident happened Wednesday in Jumper’s garage. He was carrying a bag with a loaded gun in it. He reportedly dropped the bag and the gun fired, killing him.

There are precautions that would have prevented this. Is not safe, is gun, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping it one of only two states: in a holster, loaded, or in a case or safe, cleared.

22 Dec 15: Burlington, Iowa Negligent Shooting of Civilian

Autumn Steel absorbs mortal wounds on officer's body cam. He testified he had fallen and was flat on his back when he fired.

Autumn Steele absorbs a mortal wound on officer’s body cam. He testified he had fallen and was flat on his back when he fired.

In this case, the Burlington, IA police department used the, “bleep had it coming” defense to explain why officer Jesse Hill, supposedly firing at a dog, instead killed an angry woman during a domestic dispute, narrowly missing her 3-year-old. The police and prosecutors ruled in days, perhaps in minutes, that it was a good shooting, and have ever since suppressed all records of the shooting except for a few seconds of edited video.

After Hill shot Steele, he and other responding cops let her bleed out, only attempting to treat her with chest compressions after she’d stopped breathing. Her husband, a combat vet with Combat Life Saver training, was held back.

Hill has a history with dogs, having tased two of them in the past. He may have an unnatural fear of the animals.

Des Moines County Attorney Amy K. Beavers wrote in a hastily-assembled whitewash that Hill’s negligent shooting of an unintended human target, fatally to the human, was “reasonable.”

The story reached even to New York, where the Daily News wrote:

Hill was responding to a disturbance on Jan. 6 when he found Steele in front of her house hitting her husband, police said. The 34-year-old mom spent the previous night in jail after being arrested on domestic abuse charges, the Des Moines Register reported.

The cop fired his gun when the family’s German Shepherd, Sammy, pounced on his back and bit him, police said. The bullets hit Steele instead of the attacking dog, police said.

According to the animal control board, the dog was upset and agitated (as were the humans) but the full video shows that it didn’t attack Hill. (They found the dog Not Guilty and returned him to his surviving family members). Hill also had no bite wounds. In fact, even in the short, edited clip released by Hill’s defenders, the dog is visible in front of him moments before he opens fire into the woman right in front of him, but supposedly on the dog that supposedly was on his back. (Some news stories said the dog had a non-life-threatening GSW).

Officer Jesse HillHill (left) and Burlington officials, have since changed their story, and now say that he slipped and fell and that’s why he fired into Steele at near-contact range. An Iowa public records board has filed suit against the agencies standing between Hill and accountability. (This is a separate action from any the family pursues for damages; this is about transparency).

For Hill, there were no consequences, at least, no negative consequences. Burlington Police Chief L.D. Beaird gave him seven weeks of extra vacation as a reward; he returned to duty a month after the whitewash absolved him of any criminal charges.

Since then, Hill has still been stumbling around Burlington with –by his own account and by the reading of the evidence most favorable to him — a gun he can’t handle safely. Call 911 in Burlington, Iowa, and that’s what you get.

That’s a real confidence builder.

Exit thought: you should probably comport yourself during break-ups in such a manner that (1) Officer Friendly needn’t drop by; (2) if he does, he leaves his hogleg in the holster; and (3) your dog doesn’t get all amped up. If Hill hadn’t been negligent, Steele wouldn’t be dead, but if Steele had be in control of herself, the situation would have never reached the point where Hill thought he had to draw.

For More Information:

23 Dec 15, Des Moines: Officer practicing ‘quick draw’ fires shot inside Des Moines Airport

Don_Knotts_Barney_and_the_bullet_Andy_Griffith_ShowProbably shouldn’t have done that. Bet he thinks so, too. Now.

Is it just us, or does this story remind you of a famous TV policeman who “meant well, but…”

Lucky for him, he didn’t hit anybody and it doesn’t appear the Des Moines PD is taking any action on this, or even taking it seriously. However, they do deserve credit for releasing his name. Most departments don’t do that.

23 Dec 15, Poway, CA. Man wounded in San Diego County gun range accident.

There are several clear safety violations in this, another “dropped gun went off” incident.

A 12-year-old boy was target shooting with a .22-caliber rifle when he was burned by a hot bullet casing and dropped the weapon.

When the rifle hit the ground, it fired and the bullet struck a man in the leg.

You could supervise youth shooters better (this is hard to do on a busy commercial range as the RO. It’s really the responsibility of the kid’s adult). You could warn shooters about the fact that a hot case is painful and uncomfortable, but it won’t kill you, whereas muzzle control is an iron law. You could look into whether your guns are drop-safe.

Or you can just put it down to a freak accident of no relevance to you, which is what most people who hear about this will do. (We hear about similar accidents on outdoor ranges with bee or hornet stings). But in our opinion, half the trick to handling an unexpected situation is having expected, or at least thought through, the situation before it presents itself.

26 Dec 15, Chicongo: Chicago police say woman, 55, ‘tragically killed’ when accidentally shot by cop

The various “reverends” and “community leaders” are going to be in the news over this one:

A Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday accidentally shot and killed a 55-year-old woman, who was among two people fatally wounded,

It’s not entirely clear what happened, but it appears that family members called 911 because their son, home from college, was acting crazy and swinging an aluminum baseball bat. The police arrived and fired a barrage of shots, hitting him 7 times and the lady in the downstairs apartment, in a case of manic disregard for backstop, once. The PD is lawyered up and not naming the officers, saying how many shots they fired, or even saying what race they are, the first question the reporter from the AP had (raaaaacist!). The two responding officers have been given 30 days’ vacation and need only make a statement on their return, after working with union lawyers to work up the best possible story.

Meanwhile, embattled mayor Rahm Emanuel took the opportunity to bash the police, again.

The cops have reacted predictably, going into “fetal mode.” December, 2014 saw 6,700 arrests, and December ’15 only 2,000. Meanwhile Chicago is likely to break 500 murders (most, but not all, by gunfire) and 3,000 criminal shootings for 2015 — it’s at 497 at this writing. And the press is wound up about the 5 or 6 people — all, apparently, except this one lady, career criminals — who are shot by cops in a year, not the 3,000 that get nailed by crims.

28 December, Las Vegas NV. Las Vegas Cop And Husband Shoot Relative, Won’t Face Charges

If you did this, you’d be in big trouble. And you’d deserve it.

The husband and wife were home sleeping when the relative, a woman who also lives at the residence, came home unexpectedly, [police spox Officer Aaron] Patty said.

The pair went to see what was going on and in the process shot the woman multiple times, he said.

But the lady of the couple that shot the living daylights out of their own relative is a cop, so despite the fact that she and her husband negligently opened fire on an unknown target, and despite the fact that (fortunately for the relative, who survived) neither one of them has minimal marksmanship skills, nothing’s going to happen to her. She’s going to get some extra vacation and then will be back on the streets of LV, threatening the lives of all citizens with her bad judgment and marksmanship.

Maybe the LVPD just doesn’t aspire to any higher standard than this. Could be.

Striker-Fired Transition + Weak Training + Command Apathy = NDs

ND-shot-in-footA fellow can get hurt being irresponsible with a firearm. The LA Sheriff’s Department has been finding that out since making the change from the Beretta 92F to the Smith & Wesson M&P. CNN has the story, but the gormless reporter, Scott Glover, seems to think the guns are to blame. “Guns used by LA deputies put officers, public at risk!” Glover shrieks.

Er, no. Read the OIG report, and the problem is clearly identified: inadequate training. It’s true that there’s been a big uptick in NDs, and that LASD has (and always had) a high level of NDs (probably because of command toleration of firearms negligence). In 2012, one deputy managed to ND a 92F. In 2013, one did also… but sixteen more launched unintended rounds from an M&P, which the IG traced to three causes1 (see footnote for correction on ND numbers):

  1. “[L]ack of an external safety lever on the M&P coupled with inattention…”
  2. “[S]ome deputies are violating basic firearms safety rules by failing to …keep the index finger off the trigger….”
  3. “[W]eapon-light activation errors have led to a significant number of deputies [who] pulled the trigger of their weapon when they intended only to turn on the light.”

Solutions: move the weapon-light switch, and fix the training.

We’d add 4. Command emphasis on firearms safety lacking; no consequences for NDs. Take a year of seniority and a year of eligibility for overtime or promotion for a first ND, 5 years for a second. (Really, you should fire anyone who commits an ND. But we can’t expect big-city Civil Service police to meet a common-sense standard).

Another factor is that, long after the transition to semi-auto pistols, LASD continued to teach the old 1930s double-action revolver technique of “riding the trigger.” Only in 2002 did they start teaching new deputies to keep the booger hook off the bang switch until trigger time. Riding a DA revolver or M92 trigger will have one result, riding a modern Smith or Glock will have another.

“We conclude that the current training program is insufficient to overcome old habits learned on other handguns.”  Sounds reasonable to us, but Scott Glover (and his producer, because let’s face it, the producers write the stories, the news readers are selected for their hairdos alone) didn’t read that far into the report.

And, buried deep in the report, there is a mention of the training required to use a weapon light: watch a video on the LASD intranet.

Must be a hell of a video.

 

By the way, why is LASD replacing the Beretta after 20-plus years? Diversity. 

In 2009, outside consultants, the Landy Litigation Group, concluded that the size of the Beretta had a disproportionate impact on female recruits’ ability to successfully complete firearms training and recommended that the LASD move away from the Beretta. The consultants and a working group of Sheriff’s Department personnel evaluated the options and ultimately recommended the adoption of the Smith & Wesson M&P to significantly decrease the testing failure rate of female recruits.

Diversity is our Vibrancy! If you don’t count all the NDs, the Smith transition met its goal. First time failures on the firearms test dropped from 62% to under 20%. (Along with fewer women failing, fewer men did, too, and along with more first time passes, there were fewer second-time retest failures, which get a recruit sent home). Having cops shoot better is a great thing (NYPD ought to try it some time), so on that measure, the M&P is a solid win.

But the Department’s safety record, never good or world class, really tanked:

lasd_nds

Note that this chart includes not just pistols, but all firearms. Considering how little they use them, LASD’s ND rates with shotguns and carbines are really alarming.

But it’s hard enough just to measure NDs, because:

LASD policy did not require an IAB response or an administrative investigation when an unintended discharge did not strike a person.

Lord love a duck.

Notes

  1. Those numbers, which came from the CNN report, are all wrong, although the general trend they’re describing, of increasing NDs with the S&W, is true. Rather than rewrite, we posted the OIG charts, which are presumably correct, here:

Table 1: Weapons used in negligent discharges – 2012

Firearm type

Number of incidents

Beretta 92F pistol

3

Colt M4 rifle

1

Glock 27

1 (off-duty)

Remington shotgun

1

Ruger P-90 .45 cal. pistol

1 (off-duty)

Sig Sauer 9mm pistol

1

Sig Sauer .45 cal. pistol

2

Unknown make .22 cal. pistol

1 (off-duty)

Unknown make .45 cal. pistol

1 (off-duty)

Clearing suspect’s weapon

1

TOTAL INCIDENTS

13

Table 2: Weapons used in negligent discharges – 2013

Firearm type

Number of incidents

Beretta 92F pistol

4

Colt M4 rifle

1

Glock Model 7

1 (off-duty)

Remington shotgun

3

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm

8

Smith & Wesson .38 cal. revolver

1 (off-duty)

Clearing suspect weapon

1

TOTAL INCIDENTS

19

Table 3: Weapons used in negligent discharges – 2014

Firearm type

Number of incidents

Beretta 92F pistol

1

Colt M4 rifle

1

Remington shotgun

1

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm11

28 (2 off-duty)

TOTAL INCIDENTS

31

So far in 2015, there have been at least 21 NDs, 18 of them on duty, 15 with M&Ps. Three deputies shot themselves in the leg; one shot his partner with a ricochet to the chest. They haven’t shot a citizen. Yet.

 

The Price of Expeditionary Potential: Ranger Dies in Live-Fire Exercise

Andrew Aimesbury official photoThis one strikes close to home. This young man was from a few miles from stately Hog Manor, and at 21 he was a tabbed, combat experienced Ranger leader… a man at the top of one craft with several pathways to greatness ahead of him. But all that potential greatness never came to pass, because young Andrew Aimesbury got whacked in a training accident.

It’s a risky business, folks. He planned and rehearsed the live fire with his team and the rest of the guys, and something went wrong, and now he’s 21 forever.

May God have mercy on his soul.

Cpl. Andrew A. Aimesbury, a Strafford native and Dover High School graduate who died Wednesday after suffering injuries in a live-fire exercise at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Aimesbury, 21, was seriously wounded during the exercise and airlifted to a treatment facility where he died from his injuries, the Army said.

The Army has released few details about how Aimesbury was injured. A spokesman said only that the incident is being investigated.

Aimesbury was a Ranger team leader assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.

“Cpl. Andrew Aimesbury was an exceptional Ranger leader and an extraordinary man. He was universally liked throughout the battalion for his competence as a warrior and his caring nature. This tragic event has affected us all and our hearts break for his family. Cpl. Aimesbury will always be a member of 1st Ranger Battalion and his memory will make all of us better men,” Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, commander of 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, said in the press release.

Aimesbury is survived by his parents, Carl and Karen Aimesbury, and his sister, Abigail, all from Somersworth.

via NH Army Ranger dies after injuries suffered in live-fire exercise | New Hampshire.

Like we said, this strikes close to home. Somersworth is close enough to home for the Blogbrother’s family to own property there; it’s a working class old mill town full of salt of the earth Americans, and we’d bet any amount that Andrew’s family are like that.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

That verse, everyone remembers. They were the quatrain of Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen that Binyon wrote first. He was a marvelously talented and notably hard-working poet, despite being the Poet Laureate of England, and yet these lines came to him with little effort. As if they came from some supernatural source.

Here is the closing of the poem, We think that, although less well-known, the closing is also powerful.

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Stand easy, Ranger. Your name is now inscribed on the Regimental Roll of Honor for all time; your star will be bright when we are dust.

Why Bolt a Gun Safe Down?

Because access and leverage are enemies of security. If they can get under it, they can dolly it out to a safe (from their point of view) space. If they can knock it over they can attack vulnerable back and side skins, and corners. This safe, a perfect example, was attacked in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and popped up in a Reddit thread.

Initially, they knocked the safe over and attacked the door without immediate success:

Winchester Safe failed attack

But then they went for a corner with crude cutting and prying tools, and the safe gave up its contents through this hole, one long gun at a time:

Winchester Safe effective attack

The poster wrote:

Friend on facebook posted these pictures of his friends safe that was broken into today.

The guy lost 8 firearms.

  • .22 marlin
  • .243 mauser
  • 270 wsm Remington
  • 30.06 ruger m77
  • 870 express Remington
  • mossberg 12 ga over/under
  • 16 gauge LC Smith shotgun
  • 12 gauge side by side shotgun

Break in was in Cheyenne, WY.

It’s a low-end safe, but their attack on the door (apparently with an axe) did them no good. When they knocked over the safe, they were able to go at the corners. The poster noted:

Well if it was bolted down the bottom corner wouldnt have been compromised. They tried the door as you can see but didnt succeed until they tipped it. Its not a high end safe by any means but bolting them down helps.

Still would make it harder to compromise and harder to pull everything out of it if it were bolted down. Leverage and access is a safes enemy, take as much of both away as you can.

That last sentence is pure gun-security wisdom: “Leverage and access is a safe’s enemy, take as much of both away as you can.” Time is also something to deny the burglars, for example with alarms.

If the safe is bolted down, the burglars’ favorite option for a safe that doesn’t yield to first whack — haul it off to dispose of at leisure — is denied them, and they have to try to break it open on site. Another commenter in the thread noted, of a relative who had a safe identical to the one in the post:

Someone broke into my brother-in-law’s house recently. They came with a 2 wheel dollie and went right for his gun safe. Luckily they set off his motion detector that alerted him. He called the cops and they caught the 2 thieves. Because they knew to go for the gun safe it was obvious they knew it was there. Turned out it was our nephew and one of his buddies. Now both are facing criminal charges as you don’t steal from family.

I think he has since gotten it bolted to prevent this in the future.

Here’s another attacked safe posted in that same thread. Sheet metal, 11 or 12 gauge steel (typical import safe construction). The tool used was a fire axe the thieves found on the site. We don’t know how the safe was oriented at the time of the attack, but we’re guessing they knocked it down on the side facing away from us, then attacked the safe through the side facing us (which was then the “up” side).

Cracked Safe 2

If the burglars can knock the safe over, they can get a better swing of chopping and hacking tools. They also may be able to get at a more vulnerable point (like a lower corner). They can also use leverage and the weight of the safe itself and its contents to attack a vulnerable corner.

This video says that burglars attack safes four different ways.

  1. Stealing the safe. To defeat this, bolt it down;
  2. Pry the door open. To defeat this, select a safe with a 1/4″ or more plate door (about double the cost of sheet-door safes).
  3. Cut open the safe, with a non-torch cutting tool (Sawzall, angle grinder with a cut-off wheel, etc.). To defeat this, you need an even more expensive safe with thicker steel. Steel is the counter to common over-the-counter cutting tools;
  4. Cut open the safe with a torch. To defeat this you need more steel and anti-heating materials such as stainless steel.

In it in a minute

Here’s an illustration of how quickly two guys can brute force a safe with crowbars if they can knock it over. They’re not exactly “in it in a minute,” but we saw them in at about 1:41.

If our justice system took burglars seriously and punished them appropriately, we might see less of this.

Tank Destroyer Fatalities — Caused by Bad Reloads?

Investigators on the site of the mishap that killed two M18 Hellcat Gun Motor Carriage restorers.

Investigators on the site of the mishap that killed two M18 Hellcat Gun Motor Carriage restorers.

An anonymous commenter using the name “Cannonman” has made some serious allegations about the cause of the deaths of Steve Preston and Austin Lee during a live fire demonstration of an M18 Hellcat tank destroyer in Oregon, previously covered by WeaponsMan here on 27 October and here on 29 October.

The folks were loading their own ammo, the only “correct” component being the M26 cartridge cases. They did not use long enough primer flash tubes. M30 smokeless propellant, triple-based, smaller grain size, was used vice large-grained M1 single-base propellant. Navy projectiles, having longer and larger-diameter driving bands as opposed to Army, were being used. Cases were loaded with 1/2 lb. black powder dumped in base of case, cardboard wad, then 3.5 lbs of M30 propellant.

Why is “Cannonman” using the comments here at WeaponsMan.com to send this message?

I am putting this info here because authorities won’t release any info and the facts need to get out. The very dangerous load caused an extreme overpressure in the chamber shattering the breechblock and cracking the breech ring, sending hot gas and fragments into the occupied turret.

If that was really what they were doing, including using black powder as a sort of gaine in the ignition train, it’s amazing they ever got the thing to fire.

Right now, all we have on this is a single, anonymous source. We welcome further input in the comments or to hognose at network impossible dot com.

More Depth: TD Accident Fatalities

Thanks to more news stories and an informative email from a frequent commenter, we have more information on the individuals who lost their lives and the circumstances of the accident. The two men fatally injured were Steve Preston, 51, the owner of the tank and a Board member and Convention Chairman for the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, and Austin Lee, 22, a friend (or relative?) of Preston’s. Both were residents of Oregon CIty, OR; Preston owned Sergeants Towing in Portland.

mishap_m18

As we noted, the vehicle was an M18 Gun Motor Carriage (tank destroyer). Preston bought the TD in Denver in 1999 and enjoyed displaying it — at car shows (“It’s a 1944 Buick!” he would say, parking it in the appropriate area) or for charity fund-raisers. He painted his wife’s name — Rachel — on the vehicle’s flank.

prestons vehicle name oregonianThe vehicle served in World War II for the US and had wound up back in the US after being surplused by the Yugoslavian Army. Preston, a school-trained mechanic as well as a pilot and philanthropist, also owned a DUKW amphibious truck, and, reportedly, an M5A1 Stuart light tank. He had owned a firearms dealership.

He old the Portland Oregonian once:

“The craziest thing I’ve ever done with it? At a car show in Portland, I showed up early and towed a 1984 Camaro with no engine in it into the middle of the grounds. Soon there were hundreds of cars there, and I had the announcer say: ‘Would whoever owns the 1984 Camaro, please move it, or we’re going to have it towed away.’ Of course, nobody moved it. With everyone watching, I fired up the tank destroyer and crushed that Camaro. The crowds loved it.”

Steve Preston in his M18's gunner's seat (Portland Oregonian).

Steve Preston in his M18’s gunner’s seat (Portland Oregonian).

For all his love of military vehicles, Preston never served in the military. He did take special pride in showing his vehicles to vets who had used similar machines, and giving them a chance to drive their old mounts again.

The other victim, Austin Lee, was an avid World War II buff who’d become fascinated by the great war as early as age 6 or 7.  He was a professional restorer of World War II vehicles, weapons, and equipment.

The two were firing live 76mm rounds for a film crew, making a film for an interactive exhibit. How the round exploded — if that’s what it did — inside the Hellcat’s open turret is under investigation. As the accident happened on the range of the Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association in unincorporated territory, the investigation will be led by the county Sheriff, L. Shane Nelson. ATF and Oregon State Police have provided investigative assistance.

An emergency call was made immediately. First responders found the victims in the turret; some stories say they still had minimal signs of life, but they were pronounced at the scene.

There has been no indication of whether they were firing continuously (which seems unlikely) or responding to a misfire at the time of the mishap. Overheating (cook-off) or a premature or mis-run misfire drill can produce out-of-battery firing, very bad news in an armored vehicle’s main gun. Mechanical failure can’t be ruled out, also: the gun was 71 years old, which shouldn’t matter much with a steel gun, but the ammunition may have been past its use-by date.

In the long run, this mishap may have consequences for every member of the small community that live-fires vintage Destructive Devices. In the short run, it is a tragedy for the families concerned, including Austin Lee’s parents and Steve Preston’s wife and two kids. May they find comfort, and may the accident victims find rest in peace.

FMI:

The (Portland) Oregonian has especially good coverage:

The Wall Street Journal did a photo essay last month:

Additional media coverage:

Personal media:

Two Dead in Tank Destroyer Explosion in Oregon

tank_destroyer_explosion_bend_orHere’s a real puzzle. It looks like a mishap during an armored vehicle live fire has killed two people inside the fighting compartment of the vehicle. The vehicle was on a public firing range. Those slain have not been identified. Local TV:

Two people were killed Tuesday afternoon by an explosion inside a World War II-era tank at a public firing range 24 miles east of Bend, Deschutes County sheriff deputies said.

Deputies, Oregon State Police and Bend Fire Department medics responded shortly after 3 p.m. to the reported explosion, off U.S. Highway 20 East near milepost 24, said sheriff’s Sgt. Nathan Garibay.

via Two killed by explosion in WWII-era tank east of Bend | News – Home.

tank_destroyer_close-up_bend_orThe vehicle appears in this picture (see blow-up above), from its sloped armor and large road wheels, to be an M18 Hellcat tank destroyer. The road wheels look too large to be an M10 or M36. Technically, it was the M18 Gun Motor Carriage, but it was assigned to Tank Destroyer units and everybody called it a Tank Destroyer. It had a high-velocity 76 mm gun and very little armor. With a similar 975-cubic-inch radial engine as the one in many Sherman variants, it was fast, hard-hitting and had the armored-vehicle equivalent of a glass jaw; in the last years of the war, the 2500 or so M18s built fought in both major theaters of the war.

This picture of this next M18 was taken during a live fire in 2010 and may be a photo of the mishap vehicle. The vehicle in the photo is based in the West, but there are a number of M18s in private hands, at least one of which is known to be in Oregon.

M18 Hellcat Winter 2010 148

WeaponsMan.com regrets the loss of life and continues to develop the story.

 

Jihadi go FOOM. Awwwww.

The Molotov Cocktail, so named in the 1930s as an insult to the then-foreign minister of the USSR, who was doing all he could to put the concept of World Revolution into action, is a deceptively simple weapon.

Naturally, anything so deceptively simple tends to deceive the simple. And no one is so simple as a violent Arab, the mathematically somewhat-short sum total of many generations of the cousin-marriage inbreeding that passes for mate selection in their boy- and goat-preference ranks. (The mean IQ of Arabs is in the 70s and 80s — from a full SD below the global mean, to on the threshold of retardation in the civilized world). Seldom has the typically low-IQ lack of safety culture been more apparent than in this image:

pali_disco_inferno_01

Burn, baby, burn! It’s a Disco Inferno!

Does he know any other dance moves? Well, yes; there are larger and other pictures of Hot Head here going around.

Kevin Williamson of National Review writes and provides credit to the photographer, who had to get his nose full of roast jihadi to get these pictures:

A news photograph from Hazem Bader, who chronicles newsworthy doings in Israel for Agence France Presse, inspired a good deal of guilty giggles on Tuesday: A Palestinian thug mishandled his Molotov cocktail and managed to set fire to his T-shirt and then to his keffiyeh, which had his compatriots scrambling to put out the flames dancing on his head. That was not the sort of halo that the holy warrior had in mind at all — martyrdom, yes, inshallah, but not right now. Like all decent people of good will, my first reaction was: Serves you right, ass. And then a smidgen of guilt: If you’ve ever seen a human being burned, you don’t wish it on anybody. Not even these Jew-hating jihadi bums.

via Palestinian Self-Immolation — Metaphor for Palestinian ExperienceNational Review Online.

We have to disagree with Kevin D. Williamson of National Review here; we do wish it on this scumbag, and all his family and friends. They can burn now with their ineptly produced and handled Molotovs, or burn later in their Iranian sponsors’ nuclear fires, or burn still later in the fires of Hell, for all we care. But while they’re dancing and burning before us now, we’ll enjoy the show.

And if he dies after a month in a burn ward — with some Israeli doctors working their hearts out to try to save him, probably — we’ll celebrate that, too.

Happy Jihad, crispy critter. You deserve every scar and every burning (see what we did there?) nerve ending.

This is not that rare an occurrence. Here’s one from 30 November 2013 in East Jerusalem.

pali_disco_inferno_02

The indifferent look of our flamer’s buddy on the left sums up Arab brotherhood. Oh, snap, there goes Abdul. Ah well, Allah willed it. The shaheed workout: feel the burn!

‘Cause it’s a disco inferno. More cowbell!

In previous Molotov cocktail coverage here (with updates, because we’re curious like that):

  • 04 Sep 12: Another victim of Hollywood special effects. We cover both the crime of the moment by a guy named Daigle and the history of Molotovs in general here. (Funny coincidence: here’s another molotov case with an NH angle and a detective named Daigle. The three firebombers all walked with probation — it was a MA court. The mastermind did get 15 years). Molotov Daigle later tried to escape while he was awaiting trial — like his other criminal enterprises. He pled guilty (that link has details on how non-mastermind his crime was — pro tip: the beer bottle that forms your assassination weapon should not match five in your trash can) and is probably out by now.
  • 22 Oct 12: When Guns are Outlawed… tells the story of two separate knucklehead Molotov attacks in California and Virginia.
  • 03 Mar 14: When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have Molotov cocktails. A brilliant but troubled Georgia Tech grad student of Iranian extraction seems to have used one in a grisly suicide attempt on 9 Feb 14. Saamer Akhshabi died from his injuries on 6 Mar 14. (We had noted short days before that “the odds are against young Akhshabi’s survival.”) Note that his professor’s page has been edited to remove the reference to Akhshabi’s possible mental illness that is in the pre-demise version quoted in the WeaponsMan post.