Can the ‘Accidental Discharge Of A Firearm’ Be Prevented?
Law enforcement officers, train to carry your handgun on your non-dominant side!
“For informational purposes, we train with our handguns on our dominant side and our taser on our weak side…
…This is done purposefully and is trained”.
These comments were part of the statement made by Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon during a news conference that was held in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright. See Police Chief’s statement here.
Hold on! Wait a minute… I have a question.
Why are officers trained carry their handguns on their dominant side? Perhaps to escape culpability in situations such as this?
Okay, that’s being a bit harsh. I’m sure the reasoning is so that if they need to use their weapon, it will be handy and allow for the officer to be better prepared to protect themselves and others quickly.
The thing is, if lethal means are supposed to be used as a last resort to gain control of a situation, why are law enforcement officers trained to carry those lethal means in the most accessible location on their person, on the side they will instinctively reach for first?
Think of it this way: When organizing, what is the prevailing thought about where to put stuff? The tools that are used most often get rock-star addresses. Easy access. Thoughtless to wield, like turning on auto-pilot. And boy, great organization can really get you groovin’- your tools are where you want them, when you want them. Practice with them enough and it becomes second nature… ever hear that one?
Brandishing a weapon should never be so routine that an officer ‘doesn’t have to think about it’. That might sound counter-intuitive. Isn’t that creating a bigger risk? If the officer has to think about it, doesn’t that waste valuable time?
Or- does it create space? Reaching for a firearm that’s more difficult to access takes thought. It takes intention.
If something is supposed to be a ‘last resort’ option, it shouldn’t be given prime real estate, ever. It should not be given a home where it will be encountered first if it’s intended to be used last or not at all. It should be put somewhere you can get it quickly when you need it, but not where it will get in your way on the way to the tool you are after.
Officer Potter’s mistake was made ‘in the heat of the moment’. She is a 26-year veteran officer. If she couldn’t react with a level head or distinguish between her own lethal and non-lethal equipment when faced with a scary situation, maybe we ought to look at the very foundation of her training and fix that first.