A Nurse with a Gun

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Professino Enuff

What can be learned from the infamous DEA agent's mishap in a classroom? It's an unusually entertaining video to watch, but let's be serious about it for a bit. There are lessons to be learned from this event, beyond booger hooks on bang switches.

The DEA agent in question, Lee Paige had a career that spanned over a decade, approximately 14 years before this negligent discharge. DEA Agent Lee PaigeHe had handled weapons for at least that long with no negligent discharges. So why did Lee Paige have a ND in that room on that particular day? What made a once safe gun handler unsafe?

Public speaking is a frightening thing. More people are afraid of public speaking than any other fear. Most people never get over that fear, they simply learn to control it.

Educating people about firearms safety is not for amateurs, and being in Law Enforcement does not qualify a person to educate others regarding gun safety. Mr. Paige may have been professional enough to handle a "Glock 40", but he wasn't professional enough to be doing so in front of an audience.

If guns are to be handled before an audience, it is imperative that two people clear and confirm the guns are unloaded PRIOR to the speaking event. Then the guns do not leave the speaker/handler's vision thereafter. No ammo should be present. If a gun is found to be loaded, the ammo should be contained and removed from the auditorium. Take it outside to a car. Then, repeat the process of checking. The assistant stays in charge of the weapons afterwards. The guns do not leave his sight. Even so, the speaker should again check the weapon as soon as his hands touch it during the speech. He should stop speaking. He should maintain muzzle discipline. He should open the chamber, look in the chamber and check the magazine's follower if it's an auto or shotgun. He should place a finger on that chamber and follower. Then, he should never put his finger on the trigger. Only when he has again confirmed he is holding an unloaded weapon should he continue speaking.

If you observe Mr. Paige, he did none of these things. His mind was preoccupied with not looking silly due to his inability to speak effectively. He removed his sidearm from it's holster. He opened the chamber of his Glock, and held it for someone across the room to confirm it was clear. He never looked himself.

The gun had an empty chamber but a full magazine. Paige was carrying it like this because he was apparently afraid of a chambered round, and he wanted to be safe. He did not really understand how guns work apparently.

Paige then held the pistol over his head to dramatically release the slide from slidelock. This, of course, chambered the round. Then, after he made his point that he was the only one in the room, that he knew of, professional enough, he nervously placed his finger on the trigger and fired the shot heard around the internet.

Tellingly, Paige informs his supervisor he had a "AD" or accidental discharge. He, to this day, as shown by his lawsuit, has refused to accept responsibility for his actions.

If you are going to speak about gun safety, and handle weapons in front of an audience, you need to be a competent and comfortable public speaker as well as gun handler. Paige was neither. He is lucky he did not kill someone. Remember, if you are going to speak about weapons and handle them during the speech, have a friend you trust and yourself clear and confirm the guns are unloaded prior to the event. I'm talking no more than 15 minutes prior, at the location of the event. Have no ammo in the auditorium. Then, do not let the weapons leave your line of sight. Check the weapon competently as soon as you pick it up in front of the audience. There is no substitute for competence. The nervousness caused by public speaking can strip a person of their competence in handling weapons. Therefore, it is imperative that two people, the speaker and a trusted, responsible, assistant, check the weapons immediately prior to the event. The assistant should remain with the weapons thereafter.

In the end, when it came to handling guns before an audience, Lee Paige just wasn't professino enuff.

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Blogger Tim said...

Your words couldn't express my feelings on this matter any better. Lee Paige had no idea what he was doing, and was so distracted by putting on a show of himself and being "the only one professino enuff to carry a Glock 40" that he neglected to follow basic rules of gun safety.

I agree with your guidelines on public speaking about guns. Anytime a child, young adult, or basically ANYONE who is inexperienced with guns is around me, the magazine is REMOVED, the the chamber cleared and triple checked by myself and someone else who knows what they're doing. Lee Paige is the epitome of gun-safety instructors, LEO's/DEA agents, and public speakers. NOTHING he did during this presentation was correct, commendable, or safe.

He is VERY lucky his life isn't ruined by trying to explain to a 3-year-old's mother how he shot and killed them by being an incompetent, negligent, show-off. Lee Paige should be removed from the Law Enforcement community indefinately, as I firmly believe my much-less-experienced-wife has better gun-control knowledge and skills than he. (not to mention COMMON SENSE AROUND CHILDREN!)

Thank you for reminding us of such an amazing stroke of luck...only by the grace of God's hands did that bullet hit Paige, and not a child!

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's possible he dumped the round in the pipe into his hand as he cleared the weapon. That would leave him carrying it live which us probably a good thing on the streets but has no place in the classroom.

Other than that, your analysis is spot on as usual. Thanks for the attention to detail you put into every post.

9:33 AM  
Blogger shooter said...

Great post that is spot on! I feel that Mr. Paige was more into impressing the adults in the class than he was the kids. "Oh, I'm the big bad Drug Cop wid a gun!!"

His first mistake was pulling his service pistol out. In all the times I have seen LEOs do weapons demonstrations, I have NEVER seen anyone of them use their own service pistol. They either used a placebo, or as you state, use a gun that has be checked and verified to be clear. Ofttimes, I have seen them zip tie a gun (like they do at gun shows) to insure it is the safe gun to use. The second mistake was not following the proper steps needed to clear a weapon.
First, remove the source of ammunition.
Second, rack the slide to clear the chamber.
Third, rack it again to be sure and then slide lock back.
Fourth, with your non-nosepicking finger, physically inspect and then visually inspect that the weapon is clear.

Great blog, BTW, congrats on the new job!

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Tim above,

I agree wholeheartedly with your assesment of Lee Paige's "Professino'ism",and with Xavier's excellent post on the subject. However, I take major exception to the statement calling Paige (or as I refer to him, "Dumbass") as the epitome of LEO/DEA agents.

I'm a member of the LEO community, (city not Fed) who reads Xavier's blog regularly. While I will certainly not argue that there are *numerous* LEO in my Dept and other agencies who are often guilty of piss poor gun handling skills, I take it as a point of principle to alway practise responsible GH techniques when handling my duty weapons and recreational weapons.

I've never handed over a weapon for inspection while loaded and chambered. When a co worker or friend has asked to look at any of my handguns, I've always unloaded and checked. At the practise range, if there is a question to be asked, my weapons have always been holstered or placed on the bench bolt open and emptied. During cleaning the ammo is in the safe. There *are* LEO and agents who are actually "professional" and "responsible"....

As a group, we saw the video (or were shown the video by smirking non LEO and anti gun friends) and while watching, felt:

1)Horror at the AD in a classroom full of children

2)Anger at the arrogance of Paige as he asked for the long gun *just* after the AD

3)Sadness and frustration knowing that "Yup. I know a guy just like that in my agency.."

and now I personally feel

4)More frustration that Paige (Assclown) is called the "epitome" of LEO's.

If I remember correctly, Paige was an ex pro football player. I'd hazard he never grew out of the "Look at me Check Me out" mentality of an ex pro athlete. (As Shooter metioned the "Look at me BBDCWAG")


And Tim, I didn't keep up with Paige's story. I only *hope* he's been removed rom the DEA and his lawsuit is in lieu of collecting a pension at the taxpayer's expense.)

3:40 PM  
Blogger Firehand said...

I have seen a LE use his sidearm in a weapons demo, but he was actually shooting; blanks inside, live ammo outside. And the gentleman was very damned careful. My kids seeing video of it when they were small got to see both highly skillful and very careful gunhandling. Including the man, while talking, regularly drawing- pointed down and to the side- and opening the cylinder to check the loads.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I recall a young female police recruit being shot in the chest last year. She died as a result, during training with what the instructor thought were blanks.

Having the second person checking and confirming weapon status, and having all live ammo removed cannot be replaced. Law enforcement all to often take shortcuts around this because it is not convienent, or someone tells the speaker to "just be careful".

After that young recruit was buried, the department still wondered how it happened. The answer is readily apparent to those who will not accept excuses, and who realize everyone makes mistakes. The key is to remove the possibility of a mistake being made under the stress of public speaking. The non-speaker assistant is that safety net.

6:45 AM  

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