In the 13 months since the massacre at Sandy Hook, we have seen more schools decide to employ police or armed guards to help with security. While there is still a lot of debate on this tactic, one thing should be universally agreed upon - these armed individuals must be trained in the safe handling of firearms.
When learning about safely handling your firearms, you are taught a lot of common sense things. Don't play with your weapon like a toy, don't aim it someplace or someone, unless you attend to use it, and make sure your weapon is totally empty before maintenance or cleaning.
Now you might be thinking "well that is just common sense", but we live in a country where common sense is quickly fading away. Take this story out of northeast Ohio. Two police officers, stationed at a high school, decided it was time for a little weapon cleaning. Well their common sense was absent when they decided to do this and the weapon discharged. Luckily no one was injured, but it does raise serious questions.
The two officers were disciplined. The actual officer whose weapon discharged was given a three day suspension without pay, while the other officer received a written reprimand. But is that enough? Before I answer that, let's look at what the police chief had to say.
Police Chief David Oliver said Friday that both officers used poor judgment by choosing to clean their pistols during school hours. He said they used an isolated, cinder-blocked room while students were in class.
He said the department at the time didn’t have a policy covering the cleaning of weapons at the school by resource officers because he never envisioned such a scenario unfolding. A written policy is now in place.
“We didn’t have it in writing because, to be 100 percent honest, it never crossed my mind that someone would clean their weapon at a school. That just doesn’t happen,” Oliver said. “That, to me, is just common sense.”
I can understand his being upset about his officers cleaning their weapons during school hours, but I can't look past his big omission in what should be their training and common sense. Why didn't his employee make sure his weapon was completely emptied of any rounds before cleaning it? Again, this is one of the first things you learn in any firearms training course.
Imagine for a moment if this officer decided to clean his weapon at home, with his family present. We would be hearing another all to familiar story of "person killed in accidental firearm discharge". For me, I fail to see how accidental can be equated with ignoring vital training, carelessness and a total lack of common sense. And rather accidental or not, that person should not be allowed to hold a firearm until they can prove they are responsible enough to enjoy our rights.
So no, a three day suspension is not enough. When Barney Fife had one of his foolish accidents with his gun, Sheriff Andy would take away his gun and bullet. Perhaps some 1960's sitcom disciplinary action should be enacted here. Take away the officers gun, until he proves he is responsible enough to use it again. Sure he did clean his gun in an "isolated, cinder-blocked room", but he also showed a total lack of common sense, as the chief essentially admits. What's to say next time he doesn't decide to clean his weapon in the middle of the cafeteria during lunch hour?