Firearms Safety 101: even when it’s holstered, a kid can get at a gun

A police officer found that out the hard way.

Police say a third-grader at a Minnesota school got his finger on the trigger of a liaison officer’s holstered gun, causing it to fire a bullet into the floor.

Maplewood police say no one was injured when the gun fired Monday as the officer was talking with students in the gym at Harmony Learning Center.

The school is for students with special needs. The officer, who is assigned to the school to build relationships with students, was sitting on a bench when a boy next to him pressed the trigger. Police say the officer didn’t know the boy was touching his gun until it fired.

There’s more at the link.

Verily, the mind doth boggle . . . He sat down with his loaded gun in a position where a child could easily get at it?  Did he have no common sense at all?  It’s only by the grace of God – or, if you don’t believe in God, by whatever benevolent stroke of fate you prefer – that no-one was hurt.  If someone had been hurt or killed, you can be sure it would be classified as “accidental”;  but in reality, it would have been negligence, not an accident at all.

I’m sure the child will be ‘counseled’ . . . but I think the cop should be very sternly counseled as well!



  1. From comments I read elsewhere the holster may have accommodated a light on the gun, thus having a big enough space for a finger to enter the holster. Perhaps the officer should have been more careful to watch just who was getting so close to him to begin with.

  2. Something sounds off about the story/explanation. I just did a quick look at Safariland's website and even the holsters that allows a light the trigger is well covered. For someone to be able to get there finger in side the trigger guard without the officer noticing it? Either that or a VERY poorly designed holster.

  3. The whole story sounds phony.

    My money is on the idea that a kid reached for the gun, managed to start pulling it out of the holster, causing the officer to reach for it himself, who then managed to get his finger on the trigger while grabbing for the weapon… which had a live round in the chamber… and the safety off.


    Many levels of stupidity demonstrated here.

  4. There's reasons I don't like semi-autos that don't have safeties. If anything, from a drawstring on a jacket to a little curious finger, gets inside the trigger guard, a negligent discharge occurs.

    But I'd bet a dollar that the truth is closer to Bob M.'s idea.

  5. I have a couple of revolver holsters which have a cut out which exposes the trigger and I don't know why they're designed that way. I think a lot of older revolver duty holsters were like that. I did an experiment and found I could indeed pull the trigger and discharge the weapon with it still secured in the holster. It'd be entirely possible in tight quarters or in brush when out in the woods for something to move the trigger. As much as I like the ease of carry one of those holsters provide I just don't use it. It's not safe.

  6. The entire point to a holster that exposes the trigger is to facilitate a faster draw and fire. With proper training you can actually shave a fraction of a second off your go to bang time with one of these open rigs. But the trade off is that you have at all times a live firearm hanging there ready to be discharged by any person or object that engages the bang switch.

  7. Coupla things: First, I question the wisdom of any police agency which prescribes a holster for "Open Carry" (read: uniformed personnel) that:
    1) Does not have Class III retention, and;
    2) Permits access to any part of the trigger guard.

    I also question the wisdom – and level of competency with firearms – of any police personnel who utilize a such a holster, especially in the semi-controlled environment of a school.

    Second, it ain't "the gun" because, as some unattributed Russki once said "is gun, is not safe." If it's a working (duty) firearm, it must be "ready to go" instantly and constantly. That moves the responsibility to the individual controlling the firearm. Cops, as a group, don't exactly over-populate the ranks of Mensa members or Rhodes scholars, so it's understandable that an individual with quite limited firearms experience, not much intellectual imagination or curiosity, and propensity to accept and follow rigid direction from above, would not consider all the possibilities, either positive or negative.

    Third, unless one has had experience with them the overwhelming majority of people do not understand "special needs" children and adolescents. "Special Needs" is routinely understood to mean "retarded" (for this I hold the education and psychological industries in deep contempt).

    Yes, some of them are "retarded" as the range of mental development is generally defined. A great many are merely "different." Ever watch "Big Bang Theory"? I can assure you, the primary characters on that show (excepting, perhaps, the "Leonard" and "Penny" characters) would easily qualify as "special needs" during their early and middle school years. It's the usual Hollywood BS output, but Ben Affleck's movie "The Accountant" is not an unreasonable treatise to describe a lot of "special needs" kids; quite a large proportion are stunningly bright in ways not understood or appreciated (look up "savant"). That one child could see a condition a holster designer, or user, had not envisioned is not at all surprising.

  8. Cops, as a group, don't exactly over-populate the ranks of Mensa members or Rhodes scholars, . . .

    A cop in a special needs school. Oh the irony!

  9. I'll remind y'all that a police officer applicant lost his suit against a dept for discriminating against him for being too bright. Their reasoning was that he would get bored in the job, since he had a higher than average IQ. IIRC, it was discovered that this was a common situation in the police field, with a long history. Not all subscribe to this philosophy, but enough do.

  10. > Cops, as a group, don't exactly over-populate the ranks of Mensa members or Rhodes scholars, . . .

    I take exception to such characterization, which seems to carry the implication that LEO are have low intelligence. That problem is that – even though they carry guns – most of them are not "gun people". They learn only enough about guns to qualify each year. Remember, LEO use their pens way more than they use their gun.

    One thing that stood out to me, is that he let ~anyone~ get in close proximity to his firearm. That was a serious – potentially fatal – lapse in situational awareness.


  11. Along with Anonymous just above I take exception to Uncle Lar's charecterization of the average cop as a mental midget. Most of the things that are done in this world – well, badly, or in most cases somewhere in-between – are done by people with "average" intelligence. What do you call the one who graduates last in class from medical school? You call 'em "Doctor". "Average" intelligence is pretty damned intelligent. It's how much of it and how well you apply it that matters.

    I also agree that most cops are not "gun people", especially big-city/other than rural cops. They're taught just enough to use it to hit a paper target and sent out to "enforce the law" rather than do what police were meant to do from their earliest official organization – keep the peace. Until the "LEO" mindset is changed back to what it started as and should still be, expect more people to die unwarrantedly at the hands of "LEOs".

  12. The older Safariland 6280-series holsters for Glocks with a mounted light left enough room that even an adult could get a finger in there, when holstered.

    Later models have largely fixed this, but it has been a known issue for a while. There is a certain amount of interplay between how much material is that high up on the holster body and being able to get a good master grip on the pistol, and some of the older light bearing holsters went a little too far in the wrong direction. It also costs a lot to make a new holster mold, so these things don't tend to change much once initial production runs have happened.

    The greater issue is actual weapons retention. The cop should not have let a kid get their hands on the holster at all. Protecting the holstered sidearm is a fundamental and critical officer safety habit and one that is universally taught and emphasized. If the officer would have been paying attention, this wouldn't have happened, but cops who voluntarily go to school assignments can often be a little less switched on; they tend to self-select into those positions, no offense intended to any school officers who do not fit that unfortunate stereotype.

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