Through the years, almost every time you hear of a negligent or accidental discharge with a Glock, you inevitably hear the resulting noise about how Glocks have no (active) safety and a very light/short trigger that contribute to causing accidents, thereby making them poor choices for law enforcement (and then by extension civilian) use. Well, let us talk about that.
In recent articles we have brought you tales of police chiefs that have accidentally shot themselves due to jacket drawstrings, officers who have had accidental and tragic gunplay at barbeques and in bathrooms, as well as Glocks that mysteriously go off when officers are cleaning them. These instances, with trained law enforcement officers, often come back to statements about how the Glock has no external safety-- thus blaming the gun and not the training.
For example, when the police chief of Connersville, Indiana accidentally shot himself when his jacket drawstring caught the trigger, the mayor, Leonard Urban, defended the chief and "It was just a little accident. Dave is an excellent marksman," Urban said. "Apparently the Glocks don't have the trigger safety that they should have."
As noted by Town Hall in a piece about the U.S. Capitol Police leaving guns behind them in a bathroom, the publication took pains to point out that this was especially dangerous, "as the Glock system has no external safety... thus making it easier for children who have no experience handling firearms susceptible to egregious harmeven deathfrom this negligence."
But, even if you contend that many of these instances reported in the media are dropped by anti-gun publications, you are only partially correct. Even pro-gun websites throw rocks sometimes
Noted pro-2A writer and blogger Bob Owens over at Bearing Arms wrote a piece for the left-leaning LA Times slamming Glocks as a poor choice for law enforcement (even though some 60 percent of agencies voluntarily chose the guns) that he largely republished on his site.
"The underlying problem with these pistols is a short trigger pull and the lack of an external safety. In real-world encounters, a short trigger pull can be lethal, in part because a significant percentage of law enforcement officers - some experts say as high as 20 percent - put their finger on the trigger of their weapons when under stress. According to firearms trainers, most officers are completely unaware of their tendency to do this and have a hard time believing it, even when they're shown video evidence from training exercises," wrote Owens.
However, two of the instances that Owen's cites occurred in New York-- an agency that uses Glocks, but also orders them modified with extremely heavy 'NY' triggers. These increase the pull from the factory-standard 4-ish pounds to a downright double-action revolverish 12-pounds to help prevent negligent discharges by amped-up officers.
Yet the department, the largest police agency in the country, still has the occasional problem with premature discharges. Owens does not offer what magic gun that when the trigger was pulled on a loaded chamber would not have fired up as an example, however.
Could this all be solved by...
The NYPD gets about 104-hours of initial firearms training to achieve a "hit ratio" of about 34 percent in gunfights-- meaning they miss their target about 2/3 of the time. Now don't get too bent out of shape, but this is actually better than in many departments. I can tell you from experience, the 104-hour figure also isn't too far off from many typical agencies-- and some even give far less.
However, many issues with Glocks (or any firearm for that matter) and negligent discharges go back to the basic safety rules, which can never be repeated too often.
1. Treat every firearm as if it's loaded. This means anything you would do with the gun while unloaded, is the same thing you would do with it ready to fire. I can personally tell you of two negligent discharges I witnessed with people when people who knew better pulled the trigger on a gun they just 'knew' were unloaded.
2. Never point a firearm at anything that you do not intend to destroy. This includes any and all horseplay with firearms-- especially if you forget rule number one above. This translates into the concept of proper muzzle-control. Remember, the only things that are cleared to point a firearm at is a target, berm, or threat. Moreover, even with that, keep in mind all of the other rules.
3. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it or behind it. Bullets are funny things. Even low-powered rimfire ammo can travel significant distances and penetrate walls, doors, etc. Keep this in mind even in self-defense instances.
4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target. Ah trigger discipline, or commonly just called TD. It's pretty hard for a firearm to just suddenly go off unless the trigger is pulled back successfully. If your trigger finger is aligned down the side of the trigger well, or better, down the side of the slide, until you are ready to fire, the less likely you are to shoot yourself in the leg or accidentally wing an innocent bystander. "Booger hook off the bang switch!"
So DO Glocks have a safety?
Well, yes, they actually have three internal three passive, independently operating, mechanical safeties that have to be engaged for the gun to fire as explained in detail here:
A trigger safety
A firing pin safety
A drop safety
What if you still really want an "active" external safety lever or button?
Well, you are in luck, there are many aftermarket options
A Saf-T-Blok trigger safety
A Siderlock device that fits in the trigger itself
External safety lever installed
Finally, you can always carry your Glock without a round in the chamber, training to draw and rack to bring it into action as a last stand against possible negligent discharges.
However, recognize that when you are under stress that extra step can cost you time, which can cost you a lot. Racking the slide takes time, no matter how you argue it. It also allows a chance for the weapon to jam when you very least need it to.
In the end, everything you do with a Glock or any handgun boils down to safety. Moreover, with the proper practice and policies, they can be among the safest guns in the world.
Despite the rhetoric.
What's your thoughts? Drop them below.