Inadvertent "misfires" by modern guns used by police in action - Valid excuse or not?

Sometimes you’ll see claims in stories about accidental or questionable shootings that the gun accidentally “mis-fired” on it’s own. I thought weapon technology had advanced to the point this was unlikely to near impossible with weapons like Glocks and other relatively sophisticated law enforcement weapons.

Is an “accidental mis-fire” a valid excuse for accidently shooting someone by a law enforcement officer working with a modern gun?

I believe it’s BS. Glocks are used by many police departments and military forces worldwide, for example, and while it’s true they have no manual safety, they do have 3 internal safeties. Without going into detail, those safeties make sure the gun fires when and only when the trigger is pulled straight back. There could be some catastrophic failure in which several of the safeties fail and the gun shoots on its own, but more likely, it’s the cops’ fault (maybe on purpose, maybe not). They could simply be accidentally pulling the trigger and not even realize it in a highly stressful situation.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume 99% of the officers are just backpedaling and transferring the fault from them to the firearm.

From Wiki:

Huh? I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, Johnny L.A.… I have a Glock and it’s true you must depress the trigger before disassembling, but even the most bumbling stumbling of fools who are attempting to take apart their gun should know to take out the magazine and pull the slide back to ensure it’s unloaded before pulling the trigger.

Just that it’s possible that there can be an accident, even with a Glock. The OP mentions Glocks, but doesn’t seem to be singling them out. Personally, I don’t (generally) believe in ‘accidental misfires’. Guns don’t just go off. IMO it’s operator error.

I think it’s safe to assume that policemen accidentally shooting suspects were not trying to dissassemble their weapon.

Most gun technology is very old, approaching 100 years or more in many cases. There have been incremental improvements that lead up to guns like a Glock but even guns based on very old designs do not fire unitentionally except through some type of negligence on the part of the operator. It is all BS.

I’ve recently read on Wiki that the Colt 1911 (actually a Kimber Carry Pro II, but the same thing) was chosen in 2001 to be the official sidearm of the Tacoma PD. Of course the 1911 was adopted in 1911. The design goes back farther.

The 1911 has a grip safety (the top of the ‘backstrap’ is the grip safety) that must be squeezed in order to release the hammer. In addition, there is a thumb safety. The thing about the thumb safety is that it only works when the hammer is cocked. When a round is in the chamber, the hammer is cocked, and the thumb safety is on this is ‘Condition 1’, or ‘cocked and locked’. ‘Condition 2’ means a round is in the chamber and the hammer is down. (The thumb safety, obviously, is off.)

I can see that an ‘accident’ might happen if a 1911 is in Condition 2 and it is dropped on the hammer. (Did they fix that with the Series 70 or Series 80?) And I can see the thumb safety in Condition 1 accidentally being switched off (thus making Condition 0) and a combination of events resulting in an inadvertent discharge. And someone might mishandle a Condition 0 gun. Only I’d call these ‘accidents’ mishandling and not ‘misfires’. (Technically a misfire happens when a firearm fails to discharge, but i think we all know what we’re talking about.)

Other guns have other safeties. For example, my Beretta’s thumb safety rotates the rear part of the firing pin out of line with the hammer and drops the hammer.

Some people lighten their triggers. I’ve shot a Sig with a trigger so light I barely had to touch it. This can be dangerous, especially in a stress situation. And some people have modified their guns to the point where they’re completely unsafe (and possibly illegal). Maybe some cops have had some trigger work. If they have, then in my mind that borders on intent if it’s done to the extreme (as on the Sig I fired). A service arm is supposed to be rugged. It’s supposed to work when it needs to work. But it should not be modified to the point where ‘accidents’ happen.

Regardless of whether or not a firearm has a mechanical safety or not, the saying is “keep your booger hook off the bang switch and you’ll have no problems” is pretty much true. They fire when the trigger is pulled. Now maybe that officer didn’t mean to pull the trigger, or the retention strap on his holster got in the trigger guard when he was re holstering, but it’s pretty much a certainty that the trigger was pulled when it discharged.

I remember a video on the internet where some officers had a fellow on the ground having just put the cuffs on. Another office who had been holding her firearm pointed toward the subject fired her pistol. I’d bet she said it just “went off” rather than say “Gee, I didn’t mean to pull the trigger”.

There would have to be several mechanical failures and or impacts and failures for it to “go off”. Not impossible, but I’d bet against it every time.

I carry 1911’s, Springfield XDs, Kahrs most every day and I’m confident that they’ll not go off unless I pull the trigger.

The big knock on Glocks in this regard is that they are one of the few (and perhaps only) handgun that requires the user to depress the trigger prior to disassembly. For some, this violates one of the cardinal rules of gun safety: always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Clearly, Glock owners don’t want to hole up their houses or injure or kill their loved ones, but because this requirement exists you must be more attentive at all times.

In any event, to answer the OP, there are exceedingly rare occasions when in fact it is not the fault of the operator that the weapon fires. Such events are referred to as “slamfires”. In this case the firing pin remains in position due to fouling or damage, and when you release the slide on a round it will fire until the magazine is empty due to the mechanical function of the weapon. To repeat, this very rarely happens, and is most notable with surplus SKS rifles and Makarov pistols due to the Cosmoline that they are packed in, some of which may foul the firing pin channel.

The remainder consist of what are called “accidental discharges”, or to my way of thinking “negligent discharges”. Guns are generally very reliable machines, and a machine at rest will not go off on its own. My weapons are always loaded and they have yet to fire within the confines of my safe. Something has to trigger the action. For that reason I do not accept the canard “the gun just went off”. No, it didn’t.

As GaryM and **Airman Doors ** have said;

Keep your damned finger off the trigger!

If you had your finger on the trigger, it is NOT an “accidental discharge”. It is, as AD said, a “Negligent Discharge”.

You also have to take into account that most cops are not even remotely competent with their issue side-arm. I certainly wouldn’t want any of the cops I’ve known over the years to be anywhere within a mile of me with their weapon out. Most can barely quzlify with it, and since they carry it every day, all day, they get so used to it that it ceases to be a deadly weapon to them, and they get unbelievably careless with it. In short, there are no misfires, only careless cops.

Not to disagree totally with ya boss, but just like driving, operating heavy power tools, work around sharp objects, its a big deal to never be involved in an accident because just via sheer exposure your likelihood of being involved in an accidental discharge is orders of magnitude more likely than someone who does not carry all day every day. A tool of any significant power is just as dangerous as a gun and although they may be machines, people are not. Why should a cop shooting himself in the foot be any more newsworthy than a carpenter tearing up his hand with a circular saw. If anything the carpenter has more hands on time with a saw than any cop with his gun. Compare the accident/injury rates on cops with their driving and the gun incidents look like a minor problem by comparison.

Blaming the gun OTOH is BS from all of my experience as well and I have been present for two AD incidents at shooting matches, both were trigger pulls on draw resulting in a bullet impacting within a foot or two of the shooter. I saw 30-40 people on the firing line every weekend for years. 2 incidents of poor gun handling resulting in an AD over 5,000 person/matches shot with zero injuries is still a decent safety record.