Whenever a story about an inadvertent discharge of a weapon by a police officer appears, people knowledgeable about gun safety will explain how it violated every basic safety rule around. The point is that the problem isn’t with guns, but improper gun handling. Had the police merely employed proper precautions, it wouldn’t have happened.
While this may be true, it fails to take into account one perpetual problem with the use of weapons by police. They don’t give a damn about firearm safety when it conflicts with the First Rule of Policing.
No, the man in the convertible didn’t do anything wrong. He’s not suspected of doing anything wrong. The officer pointing the rifle at his face has no reason whatsoever to believe he poses a threat. And yet, there it is.
The backstory, via KTVU, is told in the caption to the photo:
A California Highway Patrol officer and another emergency responder stop a vehicle at a checkpoint near the neighborhood where a federal immigration officer was shot and three local police officers were wounded during a violent confrontation with a suspect in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee, Randall Benton)
Just a checkpoint. You know, checking cars just to be sure. Nothing special here. Except for the rifle pointed at some unrelated guy’s face. As I understand basic firearm safety, you do not point a weapon at a person unless you are prepared to, and justified to, pull the trigger. The reason is pretty simple, because sometimes a
finger trigger gets pulled by mistake, and it’s not a good thing to shoot people in the face by accident. It’s really bad for the person shot, as they tend to be dead for no better reason than an errant finger.
But cops had been shot, and there is nothing that causes greater fear than that. The officer with the rifle can’t be too careful, because, well, you never know. You never know. Neither does the guy in the car who was minding his own business, driving along, stopped at a checkpoint and put at risk of his life because the cops don’t know who they’ll find.
What could possibly go wrong?
H/T Mark Bennett