Many of you have no doubt seen articles recently discussing the apparent connection between weapon-mounted flashlights and accidental shootings by police officers. I am here to tell you that the weapon-mounted flashlight is not the problem, the officer is.
In Texas It’s Called Deadly Conduct
If an officer points a firearm at someone without the reasonable belief that the person is a mortal threat to the officer or othersn, it is a crime called deadly conduct. Any officer using a flashlight mounted on a firearm in a situation not warranting the use of the firearm itself should be promptly fired, have his peace officer license revoked by the state, and prosecuted for deadly conduct. Dipshits too lazy to use the handheld flashlight they should always be carrying on their belt anyway, and willing to disregard the most basic firearm safety rules, have no business wearing a badge, period!
Pressure Pad Switches ARE Potentially Problematic
The one circumstance in which a reasonable officer might accidentally discharge a weapon as a result of an attempt to activate a weapon-mounted flashlight, is when the officer uses a pressure pad switch. These are thin pads that run along the gun’s handle, abd are activated by squeezing the handle. The problem is not the pressure pad switches themselves, but what is called the sympathetic muscle response.
Hold your hand like you have a gun in it, but keep your index finger pointed straight, as an officer will be trained to do, to keep his finger away from the trigger, to prevent accidental firing. Next, quickly squeeze all of your fingers except your index finger, to simulate the activation of a pressure pad switch. If you squeeze and relax repeatedly in quick succession, you will note that sometimes your index finger also closes slightly. This reflex is almost impossible to eliminate, and in a real “oh shit” moment, like seeing a real potential threat in close proximity, this reflex may be agitated to the point where a trigger might actually be pulled sufficiently to fire a weapon.
That said, if the officer is following standard safety rules, and keeping his finger straight, and outside of the trigger guard, until he males a conscious decision to shoot, then even the sympathetic muscle response should not be a problem. None the less, it isadvisable for police departments to avoid the use of pressure pad switches for weapon-mounted flashlights.
Officers Need Weapon-Mounted Flashlights
Most departments recognize the need for certain officers to use weapon-mounted flashlights, but deny that need to others. Dog handlers need to be able to operate their handgun in the dark with one hand, because they’re holding their dog’s leash with the other. Tactical/SWAT officers typically operate two-handed weapons such as assault rifles, or might hold a ballistic shield in one hand and handgun with the other. These obviously prevent the use of a handheld flashlight, and require the use of a weapon-mounted flashlight.
But what about the common situation where patrol officers need to search a building, an area of thick vegitation, or climb up to an attic or roof to search for a suspect? These officers inevitably have to use one hand to open doors, move obstacles, climb, etc. In such situations policy prohibiting weapon-mounted flashlights put officers needlessly at risk, by forcing the officer to momentarily choose between seeing potential threats without the benefit of a weapon ready to address it, or blindly covering the area of the potential threat with his weapon. If the officer had a flashlight on his handgun, the officer would be able to do both.
Departments View Officers Lives As Expendable
Sadly, the command staff of most police departments are too lazy to establish training and policies to protect their department from lawsuits, or just too politically spineless to handle any outside questioning or criticism from people they can’t bully with their whimsical internal discipline. These sorry excuses for “leaders” would rather attend the funeral of their own officers than risk a lawsuit or a debate stemming from the afore mentioned dipshits’ unbelievable stupidity.
Rather than establish training (“Like, don’t go waving your gun in people’s faces. Kay?”) and policies on the safe and proper usage of weapon-mounted flashlights (“a weapon-mounted light may only be used when the weapon it is mounted to can justifiable be pointed in the same direction”), they perfer to simply wait for an officer to die, to effectively take the political responsibility for the decision off their shoulders, by making it a public or officer outcry issue, that they simply have no control over.
It’s Not The Policy Maker’s Life On The Line
The sad fact is that those in the department determining flashlight policies are inevitably not working the streets, and have absolutely no risk of death because of their poor policy decisions, unlike the officers the policy effects. They might have to attend one of their officers funerals, but at least they’ll get to go home to their families that night. And to think, officers who volunteered to risk their lives to maintain order in our communities will die because that same policymaker didn’t have the balls to shit-can some idiot who couldn’t figure out the appropriate time to get a handheld flashlight off his belt instead of pointing his gun at people willy-nilly. Thanks Chief!
Whew! I feel better! Let me know what you think about this issue. Is there some other way we could solve this problem? Have you ever fired a gun by mistake? What happened?