Don’t think for a moment you are immune from making a mistake with a firearm. In particular, shooting yourself because you’ve gotten careless or lazy.
We have conducted a record number of Concealed Carry Tactics this year and with the higher number of classes we’ve seen a lot of close calls. To mitigate the risk of a negligent discharge you must be diligent about protecting the trigger from unauthorized access. The firearm can only be discharged when sufficient pressure has been applied to the trigger, it doesn’t matter if it is from your trigger finger or other obstruction. Most modern firearms are designed to be quickly employed with little effort. This is a consideration when selecting a defensive firearm, the less complicated the better. When the rapid employment is hindered or slowed as a result of extra steps or procedures better options need to be considered. The flip side is the easier the firearm is to employ the easier it is to have an accident.
We go out of our way to instill safe protocol to follow when both drawing and reholstering. These are the two most likely times we could expect a negligent discharge. I’ve talked about this before, seeing the trigger finger move to the trigger prior to the student having the sights on target. Some were quick to dismiss it, but we’ve seen the finger move to the trigger before the muzzle is even oriented downrange. As instructors we need to have a zero tolerance for unsafe practices and need to correct them immediately. The problem I see with dismissing the danger of this practice is “when” do you say it is unsafe. I will say it is unsafe before your sights are on target for the simple reason there is no benefit to having the trigger in position prior.
The next problem has to do with when we start the reholstering sequence. In the beginning of class students are paying close attention, but you can see their attention waning when fatigue sets in or they just get lazy. The constant reminder of correct positioning of their trigger finger needs to be hammered into them from an early stage. It is critical students learn the correct sequence and a heavy emphasis is placed on caution as they reholster. Too many times students are in a hurry to reholster; the problem is taking this as a positive result versus properly trained. Some will get away with relying strictly on luck, but have no negative result to reinforce their reliance on luck. Others will stay the course and rely on proper training to ensure positive results.
Recipe for trouble
While proper trigger finger positioning is critical, it is only part of the problem. Other obstructions can cause the firearm to discharge. The two biggest culprits are the cover garment and the holster. Many times we see the insidious nature of laziness set in and the student fails to adequately clear the cover garment prior to holster. The oversight can lead to a portion of the cover garment being simultaneously inserted into the holster precariously close to the trigger. If sufficient pressure is applied it can be enough to discharge the firearm. Holster bodies that do not sufficiently protect the trigger need to be avoided. Find a holster with a gap near the trigger guard or worse flimsy top that “folds” over while reholster and you have the makings of a negligent discharge.
These are known issues we brief students of in advance then strictly adhere to in class. I have no problem jumping someones shit because they got lazy or fail to follow instructions.