Sunday, March 23, 2014

Those Darn Assault Flashlights!

From the Denver Red
Gun-mounted flashlights spark concerns in wake of accidental Denver police shootings 
Denver's police chief said Thursday he has ordered extra training and a review of department policies after the second accidental shooting by an officer this month and the fifth in a little over a year. 
Police are still investigating the latest shooting Sunday night, but at least two of the accidental shootings have been blamed on gun-mounted tactical flashlights. Such lights have also been cited in other accidental police shootings across the country, including one that killed a man in Texas.
The SureFire lights with the push-button switch under the trigger guard are being blamed for the negligent discharges. This issue first came to public light (so to speak) last year, I believe, from a Force Science Institute report:
One possibility, Lewinski asserts, is that under stress, when the exertion of physical pressure tends to become intensified, an officer pressing his middle finger against the flashlight switch pad will produce a sympathetic reaction in the index finger. If that finger happens to be inside the trigger guard and on the pistol’s trigger, the reaction may be forceful enough to cause an unintentional discharge. 
Ideally, of course, the index finger would be outside the guard and on the frame until a conscious decision to shoot has been made. But research studies have convincingly shown that, despite training to the contrary, officers in high-stress situations tend to move the finger onto the trigger, often without even being aware they have done so.
My good friend Paul Markel wrote an excellent piece on addressing the Force Science Institute report:
In the current case we have a report that says an inanimate object, tactical light, was to blame for a negligent shooting. Not the agency’s failure to train or the officer’s inability to operate the equipment properly. We could strip away every weapon mounted light from every cop gun in the nation and by next week some officer somewhere would have a negligent discharge.  
Training, education, and practice are not luxuries for surgeons, heavy-equipment operators, or airline pilots. But for some reason far too many law enforcement agencies still view training as a luxury or a simple line item to be cut from a tight budget. Sadly I don’t see this changing any time soon. It’s easy to blame inanimate objects for failures, they can’t defend themselves.
As a civilian — a really big distinction, I think! — I leave my weapons-mounted lights with rocker switches rather than changing out to pressure switches, not because I'm worried about a sympathetic motor response, which I think we're all familiar with, but the fact that i've trained to use the rocker switch and I'm comfortable with it. The weapons-mounted light on the handgun is always secondary to a handheld light, that is, the weapons-mounted light isn't used for searching except in the most extreme circumstances (loss of the primary, for resample). I believe we modeled a technique for using a weapons-mounted light for searching on THE BEST DEFENSE a couple of seasons ago.

On the handgun, the weapons-mounted light comes into play after the threat has been found and identified.

On the long gun, it's a different story. There have been occasions where things have gone bump in the night very loudly, and before heading out to check on said bump I shifted from the defensive handgun to the AR. In that case, I turned the weapons-mounted light on and left it on; the AR was essentially held at low ready, using the edges of the light beam to search.

How many of you guys are using pressure switches vs rockers on weapons-mountd lights????


Anonymous said...

I'm old. I still prefer a 5 cell Maglight.

clark myers said...

Pressure switches on long guns none for lights on handguns so far - I do have a laser on a S&W M&P with pressure on the rear mounted grip insert sort of the instinctive operation.

Anonymous said...

Another survey question that might put this issue in some kind of helpful context: how many times have you found the gun-mounted flashlight appropriate to the task, and it's meant a saved life rather than an accidentally taken one? I.E., you didn't shoot the little girl holding the kitty cat or you did shoot the guy in the ski mask with the butcher knife.

DamDoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DamDoc said...

If you are just turning your light on, and have your finger on the trigger, arent you violating the basic commandment to not place your booger hook on the bang switch until you 1) assume every gun is loaded, 2) dont point at anything you dont want to destroy 3) know your target and what is beyond your target.... sounds like a very, very basic training deficiency.

Old NFO said...

No lights on my pistols. I'm old fashioned... (and cheap too) None of my guns have rails.

Greg Tag said...

Michael and friends:

A couple of comments-

1) Editorial Comment- I find the casual use of the term "civilian" by police officers and others to refer to non-police to be disturbing, as it seems to indicate a "militarized mindset" on the part of the public servants in blue.
This is a significant violation of Sir Robert Peel's policing principles. I am now a "civilian". Cops, unless they are Military Police, are "civilians". Unless someone is subject to the UCMJ, they are civilian. Officer Friendly is a civilian.

Please do not fall into the trap that divides American society into "Military and police" and "civilians". This furthers the Centurion Complex and a mindset of "us versus them".

If there is an editorial need to differentiate, perhaps the use of "sworn police personnel" and "private citizens" will serve -which, by the way, was commonly done in past times.

2) Flashlight - using a handgun mounted light to scan poses the same risks as the use of a rifle-mounted telescopic sight as a spotting scope. You just want to do it, but is it safe?

Being that both the telescopic sight and the flashlight parallel the muzzle of a gun, and use each tool for other than aiming at a target or illuminating a target violate the rule " never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy".

Scanning with a pistol mounted light, when the purpose of the light is to assist aiming at an already identified target, is inherently unsafe and should be discouraged.

Teaching Officer Friendly "finger off the bang-switch" would have saved the City of Ft Worth some money, too.


Unknown said...

I have AR-15 and I am using a TRL-1 weapon light because it price is right and good working. There are different weapon lights available in the market such as M952, M962, M111, M972, M982, Stream light TLR-2 etc having different prices. It depends on how much you want to spend.
Firearms Safety Training MA.

Overload in Colorado said...

What are the advantages of the pistol light pressure switch? It seems to be worse in flashing mode, and unnecessary if you're going to just turn it on.
I purchased one recently and I'm unimpressed.

Anonymous said...

agree with OLDNFO - Police ARE civilians

Anonymous said...

Once again, we have an issue with a control near the trigger guard like the Serpa. Yet, somehow, Remington 870s and M1-As are OK. Because venerable? Actually, they are OK like the lights and holster assuming adequate training.

Jerry from upstate new youk said...

I have a rocker for my light/laser on my Xd I also keep a sure fire defender right next ti it.

Now I may just be sort of anal but EVERY thing that has a trigger I keep my index finger extended along the side until ready to use. A good example is my cordless drill!
ALWAYS along the side until ready to start the procedure.

Just bought a sirt practice gun. Same thing

Now these NEW ny compliant ar's scare me without the pistol grip your index finger just goes right inside the guard- just waiting for an ad

kmitch200 said...

I have a pressure switch on my TLR1 for a Glock. It retains the paddle switch but the thing I wish it had was an OFF switch.
Sometimes I want a firing grip w/o the light being on.
Blaming a flashlight for a bang is looking at the wrong end of the gun.

And police are civilians.
If you don't go to jail for quitting your job you're a civilian.

Rastus said...

Rocker here.

sheepdog1968 said...

Hi Michael,
My fingers are crossed by the recent forecast for Senate & republican takeover.

Trevor Shepherd said...

And, since when are the Republicans our friends? Don't get me WRONG, I did not say the Democrats are our friends, but it is a big mistake to forget that Republicans have given us some real bad gun laws. In fact, Republicans are ONLY our friends when they are in the minority in at least one house of Congress. Then, they know they need us for votes on election day, so they serve our interests. Once in power in both houses of Congress, they forget they need us and they shit on us. GWB and Mittens Romney both said they'd sign an AWB if it made it to their desk. The Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House for much of the time GWB was President and remind me, exactly what did they do for us? They let the old AWB expire, OK. Fine, but not because they wanted to. And anyway, they did nothing to rein in the ATF. Did nothing to improve things for us regarding silencers (Hiram Percy Maxim, the inventor of the silencer called it a "silencer" not a suppressor, by the way), and they did nothing to improve the situation with carry on federal lands, National Parks, Amtrak trains, on post office property, etc except for one last minute Federal regulation about Nat'l Parks that immediately got bottled up in court. It was the Obama administration that signed the Nat'l Parks carry into LAW (instead of the Fed regulation that GWB grudgingly gave us at the END of his eight years). So, I say we do not and can not trust the Democrats, but I also say that a house divided is a better house for us. I know in my heart that if Mittens had been elected President and the Republicans had both houses of Congress, we'd have lost our AR's and most of our other guns after Sandy Hook. I think in your heart, you KNOW that is TRUE, too.

Sigman said...

I'm with Old NFO, no light on my pistols. In fact, only my issue pistol (yes, I'm a LEO) has a light mount rail. To me, the risk outweighs the benefit.

And I prefer the terms sworn vs non-sworn. Not because I think non-sworn people who carry are somehow a lesser life form but because the rules of engagement are different in some instances.

rremington said...

I run a rocker switch mostly due to fact that a grip switch changes my grip. Also I noticed I was varying my grip to work the light. Neither aids in accuracy.....
I always carry a small hand held to search with.

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Unknown said...

I recently completed a low-light police training class called Defend and Evacuate, focusing on extracting injured folks to cover where we could perform first aid. While dragging an injured person to cover, I didn't have an extra hand available to use the rocker switch on my weapon-mounted light or to use a hand held flashlight. When you turned the light on and left it on, the simunition role player lit us up. I can definitely see the need for pressure switches on my handgun light.