I’ve witnessed training programs that required shooters to show clear, then load, then unload, then load again multiple times in one single live-fire training evolution. Officers who are trusted to carry a loaded firearm on duty day in and day out are forced by regulation to handle their guns in a non-fighting manner to “clear” them before entering this building or that. (STOP: I know you don’t want loaded guns inside most classrooms. Quit looking for excuses and stick with me.)
The absolute worst violators are the “Weapon Condition Codes” people or other institutional military nonsense. Condition 1 designates a chambered round, Condition 3 an empty chamber but loaded magazine; Condition 4 is for an unloaded firearm. (Condition 2 dealt with firearm that had a half-cock option). When you start forcing shooters to vary the condition code their gun is in you truly set them up for failure.
You cannot trick the mind into thinking something that is not. If men are forced to carry unloaded or half-loaded guns they will treat them that way. Loaded guns are the safest because people treat and handle them with respect.
While on paper Condition Codes seem reasonable and a logical way to ensure “extra” gun safety, what happens in the real world is you have troops who have no idea from day to day, minute to minute what condition their gun is in. Condition 3 trains shooters to treat guns like they are extra safe. Therefore they don’t need to be as conscientious as they would with a truly loaded firearm. I’ve seen shooter after shooter draw a pistol and attempt to fire only to get a ‘click’ because they forgot to chamber a round. On the other end of the spectrum, a pistol was fired into the ground two feet from my head (I was seated and the shooter standing) because the shooter thought the chamber was empty.
If a person is untrained and demonstrably unsafe or reckless with a firearm, don’t give them one. Not every person on planet Earth can or should be a gun carrier and that’s okay. However, if your shooters are in fact trained and trusted to go out amongst the public with loaded firearms stop forcing them to handle their guns when there really is no need to do so.
Forcing cops and other gun carriers to perform some kind of kabuki dance where they are constantly handling their guns in a non-shooting fashion is setting them up for failure. We are either armed and prepared to face deadly threats or we are not. Antiquated Weapon Codes and the Clearing Barrel Mentality will eventually lead to mistakes and sometimes tragedy.
About The Author:
Mr. Markel is a former United States Marine, Police Officer, and has worked as a professional bodyguard both in the U.S. and overseas. A Subject Matter Expert on Small Arms and Tactics, Markel has provided instruction to law enforcement and U.S. Military troops.
As a recognized author and writer, Paul has penned several hundred articles published in numerous professional journals and trade periodicals. Topics include firearms training, use of force, marksmanship, less-than-lethal force options, product reviews and evaluations, emergency medical care, and much more. Sought after as a public speaker, Mr. Markel is at home in front of an audience large or small.