It was surprising to me to see the results from our poll on agency regulation of Back Up guns (BUGs) when we reached 100 votes. While that’s not a lot of votes (as compared to the 1,000+ we normally get), the poll hasn’t been up that long and, as it’s an even 100 votes, it’s easy to look at percentages. As I type this I’m prepping to leave for SHOT Show 2014 and there are several new guns being released which, in my opinion, would make great BUGs. SO, I decided it was the perfect time to dive into what the early results of this poll show.
In my career (so far) in law enforcement, I’ve only worked for one agency that authorized BUGs, and it fell into the category of “authorized and provided guidelines on weapons permitted as such.” Most of the agencies in my area prohibit BUGs even though, at one local agency, there’s a famous case where a BUG saved an officer’s life. Based on my own experience, I would have thought that the responses would have skewed much farther toward the two “No” answers. It was a pleasant surprise to see 80% answering “Yes.”
Knowing what budgets are like today, it was no surprise that only 7% replying work for agencies that actually provide a BUG. I tip my hat to the agencies that do so. It is an excellent way to support your officers in their survival efforts while also limiting agency liability. If the agency issues the BUG, and authorizes carrying only the issued BUG, then the myriad challenges that can crop up with officer-provided BUGs are avoided.
I WAS surprised to see the 14% “Yes” response with no further information provided by the agency on what BUGs could be carried. Given that every administrator has to have at least SOME concern about the “Tackleberry” on his agency, you’d think that if they authorized a BUG they’d at least put out some guidance on what it shouldn’t be. I mean, really? “My duty weapon might only be this Glock 17 9mm, but my Back Up Gun is this here FN P90 5.7mm sub gun…” Maybe there are a few administrators out there who need to put a little more thought into it?
The 2% who replied “No; but what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them,” are taking a risk but it’s one I understand. Everyone’s heard, “Better tried by twelve than carried by six,” and the same philosophy can be applied to agency discipline or charges. At least you’re alive to face the charges if you need that BUG and have it when things go to hell in a handbasket.
That final 18% of “No; they’re prohibited,” I’d encourage to work with the agency firearms and officer survival instructors to see about making changes. The changes might be years in the coming, but future generations of cops might be saved if you’re diligent and work hard to create positive change.
In today’s world of law enforcement, there’s no reason for an officer to be prohibited from carrying a BUG. Whether it’s agency provided or simply purchased by the officer within agency guidelines, having it and not needing it will always be better than needing it and not having it!
What say you?