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Child Shoots Mom: Precautions for Carrying Concealed Handguns Around Children
Firearms Safety Service Says Some Gun Features Can Help Prevent Accidental Shootings
The Department issued a Dec. 31 release identifying the weapon, which is available from the manufacturer with or without an external thumb safety. The release did not specify whether Ms. Rutledge’ weapon was equipped with a safety, but does state, “Detectives … are also examining the weapon to include the safety mechanism and ballistics …”
According to Smith & Wesson, the 9mm Shield has a 6.5-pound trigger pull. If the weapon did not have a safety, or if the safety were not engaged, the weapon would discharge when the requisite amount of pressure was applied to the trigger mechanism. (This assumes that the pistol is ready to fire with a round loaded in the chamber).
The Shield is a common example of polymer-framed, striker-fired semi-automatic pistols pioneered by Glock. Many do not have external safeties and accidental shootings can occur if too much pressure is applied to the trigger.
According to Glock, about 65 percent of law enforcement agencies are armed with Glocks. An early selling point was that like the revolvers previously carried by most departments the Glock did not require the release of a safety in order to fire.
“Your finger is the safety,” said Bob Wieland, founder of Gatling Gun Rescue™, a Texas concealed handgun instructor since 1995 and a licensed private investigator. “For an adult, safety training includes keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Unfortunately, children without training often obtain access these firearms.”
The S&W Shield is similar to the Glock 26 9mm which has a 5.5-pound trigger pull. However, the New York Police Department and other agencies have installed optional springs increasing the trigger pull weight to 11 pounds in order to lessen the possibility of accidental discharges.
In addition, some civilians armed with such weapons do not load the chamber. This would require a strong pull on the slide to chamber a round from the magazine and “cock” the striker. This slows down the time required for firing the first shot, but makes the weapon much safer.
Another safety factor is a “magazine disconnect” that renders the weapon inoperative if the magazine is removed – even if a loaded round remains in the chamber. S&W Shields sold in Massachusetts or California are required by law to have this feature.
Mrs. Rutledge had a new purse specially designed to carry her handgun in a zippered compartment. Investigators say that her son was able to unzip the compartment and remove and fire the pistol. Some purses and holsters have additional safety straps to secure the weapon. Such features would be practical when carrying around children.
The tragic shooting in Hayden, Idaho, may have been prevented by the right combination of safety factors and precautions. But it would be wrong to blame the mother, her child, the gun, the purse, or other adults.
“This was a terrible event and no single point of blame should be assigned,” Wieland said.
ABOUT GATLING GUN RESCUE
Since the Sandy Hook shooting two years ago, Plano, Texas-based Gatling Gun Rescue (www.gatling.biz) has been removing and disposing of unwanted or improperly-stored firearms, making homes safer one gun at a time.