New York, NY—Yesterday a man fired from his job exacted revenge on a fellow employee in front of the Empire State Building by shooting him dead with a .45 pistol. The man fled and local construction workers reportedly directed cops to the armed offender on the crowded city street.
Police officers apparently felt threatened by the armed killer and opened fire upon him killing him. In the process nine innocent bystanders suffered bullet wounds. Today it was sadly determined that every bystander injured was shot by police bullets.
Only a small percentage of cops really like firearms and strive to become proficient with them. Most cops are satisfied if they can simply get a minimum qualifying shooting score. That being said are the standards for qualification set high enough?
In my days as a cop in Chicago I was required to qualify four times per year on the range. The department paid for the ammunition I used and that alone does not make anyone a proficient shooter.
The best firearms marksmen that compete in tournaments have ammunition delivered to them on wooden palates by forklifts. They don’t become so incredibly accurate by shooting four times a year, not by a long shot.
What they have done with the Chicago Police Department is a public safety scandal. They have reduced the number of qualification times per year to just one. They only issue each officer 30 rounds for practice per year.
Because of the limited constraints on qualification and practice the issue of fraud connected to the scoring and identification efforts of the officers actually shooting. From the top down many officers just can’t qualify and range masters simply hold their nose and look the other way. It's difficult to let police bosses fake scores and not give the same courtesy to patrol officers.
There are officers that are reasonably effective with such limited practice but they are rare to find. Most however desperately need the in service firearms training.
Most gun battles take place between arm’s length and little more. Cops rarely fire at suspects more than three meters away. Marksmanship generally is not an issue. But that’s hardly comforting to the public that sees the wonderful but faked shooting skills of their favorite fictional TV cop heroes. The public expects and deserves better.
Cop shooting deaths are down, not because they have better skills, but because of protective vests, better firearms and holsters. A few decades ago more than 50% of officers killed were shot with their own guns. Improved gun retention training and better holsters have made a big difference.
Modern emergency medical practitioners deserves a huge salute these days because they are able to save the lives of more than 90% of those victims who are shot by firearms.
For my cop readers, please for your own safety please get to the range and sharpen up because your families want you safe.