Reading an anti-gun rant in the Los Angeles Times is hardly a surprise or news. Therefore, when I read a recent Opinion piece (Op-Ed) bashing Glocks, I hardly raised an eyebrow. However, I almost lost my lunch over the babble and bias when I read the footer and realized this article was from the editor of Bearing Arms, Bob Owens. I quickly raced back to the top to read and confirm the author. Sue enough, the by line matched the footer.
As an editor, I have heard more than one writer claim a text edit changed the meaning of a term. Fair enough. However, this is not the case with Owens’ “Why the Police Shouldn’t Use Glocks” article. Even the title is deceptive, because the whole article reads like an indictment on guns.
Owens starts by naming off a few police shootings over the past decade or so where a rookie officer is startled, draws and fires, negligently discharging his pistol. In one incident, a New York police officer’s finger was inappropriately on the trigger when he was startled and discharged his pistol—a Glock—shooting and killing an innocent civilian.
In another case, Owens points out, while in the act of pushing open a stuck door, another New York officer, again had his finger inappropriately on the trigger of his handgun. The shot went down a stairwell, ricocheted off a wall and killed a civilian that the officer did not even know was present. Somehow, Owen equates these negligent discharges as an indictment of Glocks for law enforcement.
Later, Owens piles on by recounting a scenario where one officer shot another after a training exercise. The office failed to clear his Glock and during the disassembly, pulled the trigger. Owens blames the “mechanically flawed” Glock and similar striker-fired semiautos with “short trigger pulls” for the shootings.
Owens goes on to state, “In both of these incidents, the police officers were using the same weapon, a Glock: a polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol with a short trigger pull and no external safeties.” Later, he states the LAPD has nine approved models of Glock and points out that the LA County Sheriff has recently started to issue its recruits the Smith & Wesson M&P “a handgun with a short trigger pull that operates in much the same way.”
If you know anything about Glocks or firearms safety, the rest of Owens’ article is practically sickening. Owens essentially says the Safe Action System is fine if you are a robot and do everything with robot precision. Owens completely ignores the rules of gun safety. In the first two scenarios, the officer had his finger on the trigger when he should not have and it resulted in a negligent discharge that ended in the death of an innocent.
In the cleaning incident, the officer failed to clear and check the chamber. Then he should have double and triple checked it. The officer then pulled the trigger with the muzzle pointed at a fellow officer. Yes, there were plenty of mistakes made. However, each mistake was the fault of a lack of gray matter between the ears and not of an external safety or “a short trigger pull!”
Owens fails to suggest which gun with a longer pull would have prevented the incidents. He does say, however, “A number of major and minor agencies use guns with much longer double-action triggers that are just as easy to fire deliberately but that are much harder to fire accidentally. The half-inch difference of trigger travel may not sound like much, but it can be the difference between life and death.”
Pennsylvania state troopers carry the .45 ACP SIG P227 with a double-action trigger of 10 pounds. Those 4.5 more pounds of pull did not stop a Pennsylvania state trooper from killing another state trooper when he negligently discharged his pistol in October 2014.
Are 1911s and revolvers unsafe?
Owens writes, “The underlying problem with these pistols is a short trigger pull and the lack of an external safety.” I am old enough to have served in the military during a time when my standard-issued sidearm had an external safety, was not striker fired and was made of steel. The 1911A1 served us well. During our instruction in the manual of arms, we were taught to draw and disengage the safety in a single fluid set of motions—a subconscious routine that was beat into us. Accidental discharges happened. Particularly when letting down the hammer improperly. If that happened while pointing the 1911 at another person, guess what? You had better hope a corpsman or priest was nearby. The failure was not the weapon or the design. The failure was in the handling—human error.
A short trigger pull DOES NOT cause negligent discharges. It DOES make for a more accurate first shot that has saved innumerable lives—the lives of law enforcement and civilians. How many years were revolvers sold with hair triggers? Where would Owens’ position fall on revolvers or does he also consider them too dangerous?
The lack of an external safety? What a joke! How many decades did law enforcement carry revolvers without an external safety? Besides the safety between your ears—always keep your bugger hook in your nose and off the trigger until ready to fire, point your weapon in a safe direction, maintain muzzle discipline and know what’s down range.
Glock sales account for over 60 percent of the handgun market as a whole, and rank as the most popular duty sidearm among law enforcement. By strictly going on the percentages, it makes sense that the most popularly used handgun also has the most negligent discharges. That does not mean the weapon is unsafe. All of Owens’ accounts portray operator error, but not a mechanical problem with Glocks or short pull triggers. Believe this, if there were mechanical issues with the trigger, lawyers would have already had a field day in the courtroom, and Glock would have been put out of business long ago. You certainly would not be hearing about it for the first time in an Op-Ed in the LA Times.
So if not Glock, what is the purpose of the article? Does anyone really believe this is about law enforcement? If Glocks, M&Ps or any other pistol that is striker fired, polymer framed, features a short-trigger pull, does not have an external safety, or was used negligently by an officer at some point and time is to be the bar for indictment of the pistol as a whole for law enforcement, what is the logical conclusion? After deciding they are “too dangerous” for law enforcement, you and I will be next! Wasn’t it just a couple of days ago in Texas that an officer armed with a Glock .45 dropped two would-be terrorists wearing body armor? Two head shots, under fire, in about 15 seconds…?
How do you feel about Owens’ comments? Are Glocks too dangerous for law enforcement? You? Me? Share your thoughts in the comment section.