(March 26, 2015 - Odessa, TX)
Last week, it was reported that a police officer with the Ector County Independent School District accidently discharged his service weapon while trying to clean it.
Normally, a gun going off is not news. The bullet supposedly ricocheted off a wall and into a ceiling. No one was reportedly injured and the officer was alright.
This, however, is news because it happened while he was on duty at Crockett Junior High. The district’s explanation was the gun got wet in the rain, and while the officer was cleaning it, it discharged.The similarity to the Lee Paige incident is ... troubling.
Because so many people seem to think that "only the police and the military should have guns, because they are trained and skilled and not scarey and, like, you know, not scarey!"
The fact is, police and military are human. Which is to say .. fallible.
And as Fallible Human Beings, they screw up from time to time.
There's only one way to ingrain safe gunhandling practices until the good habits become second nature, and that's experience.
Well, training is important as well, but safe gunhandling is one of those skills which deteriorate if not practiced; often, under supervision, and strictly enforced by that supervision. Obviously, none of these elements were present here.
I cannot imagine why this police officer decided that he had to clean his firearm while on duty, let alone while he was on duty at a school grounds.
In the first place, why was he even there? Apparently, because somebody assigned him (as an armed, Sworn Officer) to defend the school premises and to protect the students,staff, faculty and visitors.. Someone made a good decision to provide protection, but obviously made a bad choice of the officer to perform that duty.
Could it be that Officer Barney was chosen because he wasn't qualified to walk a beat, ride a patrol car, or respond to emergencies? Did that Supervisor consider the protection of a school to be such a low-opriority assignment that it could safely be assigned to Elmer Fudd?
Who told Barney Fife to take his One Bullet out of his pocket, anyway?
In the second place, why the HELL was he 'cleaning his gun' during duty time?
We're told that the gun got wet. He was cleaning it.
Big deal. Guns get oiled .. that helps protect against rust. This is NO reason or justification for mucking about with the gun during duty hours.. Let alone "cleaning" it.
The thing is, guns don't usually "go off" unless they're removed from the holster. Obviously, the only reason to remove a pistol from the holster during duty hours is to respond to a perceived threat.
In the third place, everybody who carries a firearm knows that the first step in cleaning a firearm (after ascertening that you're in a place where it's safe to do so) is to remove all ammunition from the gun, and to ENSURE that the gun is empty before taking any further steps. That includes checking the chamber, and keeping the booger hook away from the bang-switch! Fortunately, it appears that he followed the safety rule which cautions us to keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
Can we assume that the officer was aware of this basic safety measure, After all, "(t)he bullet supposedly ricocheted off a wall and into a ceiling.
Hmm ... he must have known that the wall and the ceiling were impenetrable. Right? Either that, or he (and the staff, students, faculty and visitors) were just really lucky.
Big Sigh ... Enough Of This:
I'm sure there's a back-story which explains everything. But I would purely LOVE to hear that story. I've heard a enough lies and excuses in my time that I'm fairly confident that I could recognize one when I read it, and this may be one of them. Since the officer offers no excuse other than that he was cleaning his gun, there's so little justification that he has no need to lie.
On the other hand, I love a really CREATIVE lie.
The truth may very well be: "Oh, I just had a Senior Moment".