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American Handgunner March/April 2011 - Page 32

massad ayoob “Safety CatCh” LeSSonS from reaL-WorLd ShootingS Situation: Aviolentcriminalisattemptingtotakeyourgun awayandpullthetriggeronyou.Willithelpif yoursidearmhasanunobtrusivesafetycatch? Lessons: Thecaseswherean“on-safe”pistolhassaved thegoodguyinsuchscenariosarelegion…but atleastonecaseexiststoprovethatnosafety netcan’tbetornthrough. The good person carrying a handgun, particularly if they are wearing it in plain sight, always has to worry about a violent criminal attempting to disarm them and murderthemorotherswiththeirownweapon.Formanyyears,anaverageofoneout offivepoliceofficersmurderedinthelineofdutynationwidewerekilledwithweapons snatchedfromthemselvesortheirpartners.Thatdeathtollpercentagewascutbyhalf or more by a confluence of good officer survival practices. These included the snatchresistant holster designs of Bianchi, Safariland, Bill Rogers and others. Structured handgunretentiontraining,aspioneeredandquantifiedbyKansasCity’sJimLindell,cut thedeathtollhugely.SodidtheconcealablesoftbodyarmorpioneeredbyRichardDavis, which has now resulted in well over three thousand “saves,” many involving cops shot withtheirownortheirpartners’guns. Another element that factored into reducing the death toll was the semiautomatic pistolcarriedon-safe.Overtheyears,I’velostcountofthecaseswherelivesweresaved whenthesuspectgotthecop’sgunaway,pointeditatthatofficerand/orotherofficers, and couldn’t make it fire because he didn’t know how to “turn on” the 1911, Beretta, RugerorS&Wwithitsthumbsafetyengaged. Injustonedepartmentandonedecade—IllinoisStatePolice,1967through1977—I wasabletoidentifynineofficerswhohadbeensavedfromdeathindisarmingattempts bythedesignfeaturesofthe9mmSmith&WessonModel39autoloadertheyweremandatedtocarry.Twoofthoseofficersweresavedwhen,feelingthe“perp”gainingcontrol of their gun in the struggle for it, they pressed the magazine release and dumped the mag,activatingthemagazinedisconnectorsafety.Thatrenderedtheremainingroundin thechamberun-shootablebythetimetheattackerdidgetthegunaway. Theothersevenweresparedwhenthewould-becop-killerpointedasnatchedModel 39 at them and pulled the trigger, to hear only silence because the trooper had taken advantage of the option ISP then offered the troopers, to carry these handguns “onsafe.” As time went on, I was able to document similar saves all over the country, including Las Vegas, back when the S&W second generation Model 59 series was LVMPD’sstandardissue. Astimewenton,theKISSprinciple(“KeepItSimple,Stupid!”)tookholdinAmerican police training, becoming first entrenched and then almost institutionalized. The KISS principleheldthatthumbingoffasafetywhentheofficerhadtodrawandfirehisown weaponinself-defensewasanadditionalmovementthatmighttaketoolongorevenbe forgotten,sotheofficershouldbelimitedtoa“pointgun,pulltrigger”pistolthatoperatedinthatrespectliketherevolverofold. Continued on page 74 32 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2011

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