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GUNS Magazine January 2011 - Page 26
• M A S S A d A Y O O B • Obviously, you don’t want to shoot at a target you can’t see to identify. But should the light be in the hand or on the gun? lind man with a gun” is the law school exemplar “B for recklessness. In the darkness of night, with even perfect 20/20 vision, we are all the equivalent of legally blind without artificial illumination. The potential for shooting someone we shouldn’t have shot—the potential for creating negligence, the key ingredient for a manslaughter conviction in criminal court or a wrongful death judgment in civil court—is obvious. This is why the use of illumination with guns goes back to at least the 19th Century. In the 1880s, historians spoke of lawmen hunting criminals in dark alleys trying to see by the light of a kerosene lantern in one hand, and holding a six-shooter in the other. By the 1930s, FBI had developed a technique of shooting 1-handed while holding a flashlight out sideways at arm’s length, in hopes of tricking Best of both worlds (below, left), suggests Mas, is one light on the pistol and another, separate hand-held. Lights by SureFire, XD .45 by Springfield Armory. The old-school approach going back to the early 20th century is separate gun and flashlight, here (below, right) a Kimber Custom II .45 and SureFire Aviator. Security professional Devin Wulle, left, shows Mas the Gen 4 Glock 17 he wears daily with SureFire X300 light attached in a Safariland security holster. thE LIGht ANd thE hANdGUN your opponent into thinking you were someplace you weren’t if he chose to fire at the glow in the dark. Guns with flashlights attached were patented in the early 1900s, but the concept didn’t become practical until the latter part of the 20th Century. Today, one of the big trends in law enforcement is to issue all personnel a pistol with “white light” unit already attached and a holster to accommodate it. This has worked out well, and today we even have concealment holsters that can carry such a setup with reasonable comfort. tactical Balance For the armed citizen—as opposed to, let’s say, the raccoon hunter who traditionally stalks at night—there is one big worry that accompanies the gun with a light mounted: anything you’re pointing the light at, you’re pointing a loaded gun at! Before anyone says, “It’ll be OK so long as you keep your finger off the trigger until you decide to shoot,” let’s consider some real world factors. One is that tests in Europe showed that highly-trained, highly-competent professional gun-wielders frequently touched their triggers without realizing it in just simulated high-stress situations. None of us are perfect. Moreover, you don’t have to fire a shot when you “muzzle” someone with a gun, to cause bad things to happen on both sides of the pistol. Let’s say the stranger you identified at the point of your loaded, flashlightequipped pistol in the dark was the 26 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JANUARY 2011