(Editor’s Note: This piece was published in 2013. Given recent events, it seemed a good idea to pull it back out. Enjoy.)
“Those guns and just unsafe, you’ll never convince me otherwise.” so said a retired police officer during a recent conversation. The topic of conversation was, of course, the Austrian Wonder-Nine, the Plastic Fantastic, the hardest working pistol in show business today…the GLOCK 17.
To be completely honest, I find it a bit odd that in the year 2015 we are still having the Pro/Anti Glock discussions. GLOCK Gmbh. was founded in 1981 and the Model 17 pistol was their first offering in 1982. The Austrian military immediately saw the value of the gun and set the company in motion toward market dominance.
Not a New Design
Folks, Glock pistols have been around for over thirty years and yet some gun culture people talk about them as if they are some recent offering, somehow untested and wet behind the ears. Let’s face facts. If the Glock design was so flawed and faulty, why is it that every major handgun manufacturer in the world now has some type of polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol in their gun stable?
We can argue specifics and minute details until the cows come home, and I don’t even see them on the horizon yet, but with only slight modifications, most of the popular, internal striker-fired pistols function in a very similar manner. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the schematics.
The Creation of the ND
Let’s be intellectually honest, the negligent discharge did not begin with the invention of the Glock pistol. There have been negligent discharges since the ability to discharge a firearm came into being. Can we agree on that? Can we agree that there have been ND’s since the invention of the firearm?
Yet, there are those malcontents that will acquiesce to the previous assertion but will point out what they feel is as an overabundance of negligent discharges where the Glock pistol was the hardware in question. This is particularly true when the subject of law enforcement using the Glock comes up. “More cops ND Glocks than any other handgun.” Said one man feeling he had put the cork on the anti-Glock argument.
If we agree with the previously presented logic, that the Glock is the least safe for police officers, then we could say that the Whitney Wolverine (go ahead, Google it) is the safest pistol available in the United States because during the year 2012 not one single police officer was reported to have ND’d said pistol.
Riddle me this Batman, if eighty to ninety percent of American police agencies issue Glock pistols in some form or fashion, with what pistol will said police personnel most likely have a negligent discharges? From a hypothetical standpoint, let’s say that males age 16 to 19 on average crash more 2005 Chevy sedans than any other single make. By that token are we supposed to believe that Chevrolet automobiles made in the year 2005 are the most dangerous cars on the road? Or, can we instead surmise that teenage boys drive more Chevy cars than any other and consequently will crash more of them?
The final more prevalent argument against the Glock, and by extension any striker-fired pistol, is that carrying a Glock pistol is akin to carrying an S&W Model 66 with the hammer-cocked back. This argument shows a critical amount of under-education when it comes to the mechanical workings of the patented Glock “Safe-Action” trigger system. Contrary to urban legend, the firing pin on a Glock pistol is not “fully-cocked on a hair trigger”.
Training, Training, Training
Several years ago a firearms instructor, for whom I have a great deal of respect, opined that police agencies will never be able to “punish away” negligent discharges. Rather than simply create greater and more severe punishments for the commission of an ND, to try and ‘scare’ them to be safe, he suggest another route. Professional and continued training, as well as competent supervision, were far more likely to reduce that frequency of an ND than holding grave consequences over their heads. No, I am not suggesting that we sweep the ND under the rug, nor am I offering that any person who has had one be forced to wear a scarlet “ND” on their frock coat.
What I would like to offer for consideration is the definition of mechanical firearms safety device as taught by the 4H Shooting Sports program. “A safety is a mechanical device that can fail and is not to be relied upon for the safe handling of a firearm.” Pretty simple, huh?
Yes, mechanical safeties on firearms are appropriate and should be used as they designed for that particular machine. Keep in mind, not every safety is manual or external. Modern arms are built with numerous passive, internal safeties that do not require the user’s attention or cooperation. These operate regardless of the shooter’s intent.
An ND is not an Accident
Finally, if the shooter puts their finger on the trigger, presses, and the gun discharges, whether or not they made the conscious decision to do so, that is not an accident. An accident is something that could not have been avoided by any reasonable means.
A negligent discharge occurs when a human being does something they should not have done. This fact applies regardless of which company name is roll-stamped or engraved on to the slide or receiver. No, Gaston Glock did not invent the negligent discharge, he invented a revolutionary firearm. Like it or not, if a Glock pistol or any other gun that goes off because the shooter committed an error, the maker cannot be held liable any more than Chevy is liable for reckless drivers.