A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Problem With The Holstervault

It seems You own slight apologies to the Pilot you bashed so quick few posts ago :)...

The problem with the Holstervault is indeed one of a faulty design. The problem with the shot that was fired through the skin of an A319 Airbus over Charlotte North Carolina is the responsibility of the man who caused the firearm to discharge.

It is not unusual to want to point fingers elsewhere when an unexpected bullet is launched. The gunfire aboard Flight 1536 from Denver to Charlotte was not the fault of TSA. It was not the fault of the holster. It was not the fault of the gun. It was not the fault of policy. All these are contributing factors, but........Whether a man has the choice of his weapon and gear, or whether that choice is mandated, he assumes the responsibility of the firearm and the potential for human destruction it contains when he straps it on.

Hat tip to Crime Guns and Videotape.



Blogger Zendo Deb said...

yes and no. If you engineer a system that is pretty much guaranteed to have problems, then you are at least somewhat responsible for any problems that ensue from the adaptation of your system.

And systems are designed with certain ends in mind, and the people who maintain that one TSAs aims was to engineer a system that would over time create reasons for elimination of armed pilots have a point.

Systems like this don't "happen" because people are stupid - though there are enough of them. Systems like this come into being because the designers want the system to fail - it can then be replaced with their favorite alternative.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree this time, not fully at least. There is negligence and there are accidents and faulty equipment. Probability is relentless. If something can happen it will, one cannot predict all flaws and weak spots in products he uses, and AFAIK there was no reports of the flaw before the accident. Of course there is still some blame on the guy but maybe non of it is punishable. There must be balance in everything we do. You can punish someone for braking laws and rules only if they existed before.

To explain my weak stance in this case I'll admit I'm computer scientist, and I know from range of mathematical proofs even if you do best, in the sense do everything up to using all available resources and far beyond, you can't avoid doing errors or eliminate them all. Thats life. In my original post I didn't asked you to give a full formal apologies to the guy just some little slack. I know you are perfectionist, being a medical worker its almost an obligation, it changes perspective and understandably radicalize stances on things. Time will tell if pilot did all he reasonably could or not...

Stay safe

5:09 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

My position, folks, is that the pilot had the option of not carrying the weapon at all. The pilots themselves, having made the decision to carry a gun themselves, should feel the need to seek out training independently.

Once that training demonstrates to them the danger of inserting a device into the trigger guard of a loaded firearm, then they have a choice.....Continue to use the equipment that they are mandated to use, or decide to not carry a gun at all.

If TSA mandated the pilot twirl a loaded pistol on their finger thirty times prior to exiting the cockpit if they were to carry, I would hope that most pilots would simply say "I will not carry a pistol with those regulations in place."

The decision to carry a gun in an obviously dangerous holster was that of the man who decided to do so. He is responsible. You can say TSA set him up for failure, but he allowed himself to be set up.

6:11 PM  
Blogger the pawnbroker said...

it's simple really...as xavier has said in other words, a person who carries or is otherwise in control of a firearm, whether for sport, personal safety or in the line of duty, is responsible for that gun and any discharges from it, period.

there are contributing factors to all accidents of every kind, including accidental discharges, and in this case there seem to be several...but that doesn't change the fact that one individual is responsible, and culpable, and here that is the pilot...one question is, with the givens of an absurd holster design and ridiculous bureaucratic padlocking requirement, why on earth would that firearm be cocked and chambered?

my real point here is this: any and all serious and mature gun handlers take and accept ultimate responsibility for firearms that are under their control...and i would expect that many have had a.d.'s of their own, admit it, take responsibility, and learn from it...one thing is for sure, anyone who has had one (or more) remembers the details bacause it's just something that you don't forget.

as i've mentioned before here at xavier's place, i handled thousands of firearms in my 30 years as a firearms dealer, pawnbroker, shooter, and collector...and i've had three accidental discharges; they all scared the bejeezus out of me, they were all due to inattention or lapses of judgement or control, and i am personally responsible for them...

i was planning to do a post at my own blog detailing the circumstances, the mistakes i made, the lessons i learned, and the blessings God bestowed in that no one was hurt...but i have a better idea...

i would like other gunnies to detail their own a.d.'s, and with xavier's respected and well-read status among the online gunning community, i would love it if he would host such a confessional here on his blog...this would be cathartic for those who detail their mistakes, instructive for those who read and learn from them, and informational and entertaining for everyone to read...and i promise to add my own three scary experiences and to link to the post with xavier's permission...xavier? will you consider such a confessional? jtc

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if it happened as shown in the video, the pilot would have shot his hand!

9:00 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

You know, jtc, I do havea bit of a file here on negligent discharges.

If you will allow me to mirror your ND accounts from your blog to Xavier Thoughts, I would be honored.

That might be the best way to work such a thing.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget his hand... this guy was pointing the entire rig at his crotch several times while fiddling with the erstwhile trigger actuation device. Not someone who should be trying to make a point about firearm safety.

-Sans Authoritas

11:08 PM  
Blogger Ed Skinner said...

You pick up the gun, you take responsibility for the gun.

It's also obvious that the Hostervault's design is stupid. First time I saw it I wondered, "What if the gun isn't pushed all the way in when you add the lock? Where's the shackle and where's the trigger?"

And finally, it's also fair to ask where the pilot's attention needs to be while in-flight?

I've had NDs at the range. They happen and you work real hard to follow the overlapping safety rules so, when they do, no one gets hurt.

NDs happen when the person handling the gun doesn't pay attention. In this case, the pilot messed up. Yes, the equipment contributed to the failure but it was the pilot's negligence in failing to notice "something's not right".

The pilot's responsibility now is to help fix those parts of the process that contributed to this failure. That includes the holster design, its TSA-mandated necessity, and to acknowledge his own contributions to the ND.

10:06 AM  
Blogger the pawnbroker said...

some interesting and informative stories, there, xavier...i had looked and did not see any of your specific archives or sections devoted to ad's (all nd's are ad's but all ad's are not necessarily nd's...though i definitely classify my own three as nd).

still, i don't have much interest in being an installment in the iwg series; my thought was more that regular readers here are likely to be avid gun handlers well versed in the rules, yet i would venture that many if not most have an ad or nd story to tell.

i (obviously) find it hard to write about meaningful events in my life without a fairly wordy background and causeandeffect narrative, so i think i'm going to break down my three dumbass moments into individual storylines that encompass the context in which they occurred; namely that they were years apart (1978, 1995, and 2000) and post them in series.

but i would still very much like to see you call out your many readers to synopsize their own experiences in serial fashion and in a single running post...if you have experiences of your own to relate that would certainly get everyone's attention and break the ice of natural resistance to self-recrimination; do you have one or more ad's or nd's to describe in which you were directly or indirectly involved?

if you post your experiences, i will add my own; this will go a long way toward showing others that there is no shame in admitting lapses; in fact it is likely to sharpen awareness of maintaining a properly cognizant state of mind anytime one is handling or otherwise responsible for a firearm...

thanks for all you do here, xavier; my own nascent blogging efforts (while more oriented toward personal observations and anecdotes that i may later compile into that book that most everyone feels is within), has made me even more aware of the time-consuming, instructive, and entertaining content that you provide...jtc

11:06 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I've been very fortunate to never have a ND. It's not that I have always been 100% safe. Nobody can attain that goal. I have simply been 100% fortunate. I do not look down on others due to the ND events that happen to them. Each time I read or hear about one, it serves as a reminder to myself of why I must remain vigilant.

I stopped doing "Idiots With Guns" which was a series based on enternet photos where the subject chose to pose with firearms in a dangerous manner. A lot of folks didn't really seem to get what I was trying to do. A person who has a ND would never make the cut into an IWG. IWGs were frequently pointing the gun at their own head or somebody elses. IWGs were immature people who I felt we, as responsible gun owners, wanted to disassociate ourselfs with. Folks who have NDs are generally not like that.

A ND series is intriging, but due to the anonymity of the internet, I wonder if I can accomplish what we want without allowing a vehicle for anti-gun propaganda. This was the point of several folks who opposed the IWG series, and it had validity.

ND stores only have value if the experience can be told of in such a way that it educates others. In my mind, ND stories are not entertainment. They are serious tools for education.

I may think on it, select a few criteria, and give a call for submissions.....I do have a thing for the person who experienced the ND telling their own story and the lessons they learned. I do not want to be one to judge a man who learns from his mistakes. He surely doesn't need me.

3:38 PM  
Blogger the pawnbroker said...

thanks, xavier, i appreciate your response; i didn't think you would literally apply the iwg label, but rather that a stand-alone post included in that file would have that connotation to me...i know that you understand that the necessity of handling a high volume and wide variety of firearms of disparate design, quality, and condition skews the odds...but there is still disappointment and self-blame.

i think your moderation skills can separate real and poser posts and hope you do pursue the idea; i would especially like to hear of non-negligent accidental discharges, which i would expect to be primarily mechanical...

and you're right; "entertain" can be an ambiguous term...to me the relating of real experiences and the life lessons they imbue is far more entertaining than fiction of a similar vein, but "interest" might be a better word in this case.

i'll watch for updates...i always look forward to your posts regardless, even the weird ones...jtc

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Thinking about your point on ownership of one's bullet once it leaves one's gun, I am a bit confounded.

When I look at the pilot ND and the Ryan Frederick case from the point of view of bullet ownership, the cases seem equal to me. Reading your posts on these two incidents though, I get the impression that there is understanding with the Ryan case. Yet the pilot case you seem to be more judgemental with your writing. Is there a difference between these cases that causes you to write this way (or at least my interpretation of your writing)?

I am not trying to pick a fight, I am truly interested in your thoughts from this perspective.


10:10 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Ryan Frederick's shot was not unintentional. It was fired at a perceived threat. Whether or not the perception of the threat was justifiable is at issue, not whether the shot was intended to be fired. Frederick may well pay for his mistake, but it was not the result of poor or careless gun handling. It was the result of poor target identification in a split second under extreme stress. Fredrick's mistake is one of commission. His actions placed one man at risk, the one he was apparently aiming at.

James Langenhahn's (the US Airways pilot) shot was unintentional and was the result of poor or careless gun handling, a poor holster design, TSA bungling, or whatever you like to describe it as. It was not aimed at a perceived threat. It was not aimed at all. He was lucky it did not kill himself or another human being. It is doubtful Langenhahn will see any consequence of his unintentional discharge beyond being grounded for 30 days. Langenhahn's mistake is one of ommission. It placed everyone at risk.

While both shots have brought consequences, one man intended to take the shot based on his perceptions at the moment, the other man was no doubt surprised that his firearm discharged. Frederick's shot caused great harm, while Langenhahn's caused little harm that we know of. Both men are responsible for the bullets from their gun. However, Frederick remained in control of his firearm and it's contents, while Langenhahn did not. Langenhahn placed everyone at risk. Frederick did not.

Therein lies the difference, at least to me.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly are these bureaucrats running the country thinking about
when they write these rules? Is someone concerned about the pilot
mental health when they take off or land the plane?

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After just completing the FFDO training three weeks ago, I must say that the exact scenario shown in the uTube video was not only discussed at length, but also demonstrated. It was EMPHASIZED that it is imperative to INSURE the weapon is FULLY seated in the holster and to INSURE the holster thumb snap is fastened BEFORE inserting the lock. You are then REQUIRED to visually check for the PROPER positioning of the lock BEHIND the trigger to insure that this very accident can never happen. The gent who narrates the video uses phrases like "somehow", "for some reason", and "could have". Strict adherence to training would have prevented this unfortunate accident. We are pilots first and defenders second unless a threat is perceived. The USA pilot was neither flying his aircraft nor defending it. However, it was an accident only and should be treated as such. Don't blame POLICY, TSA, FAA, or any other entity for temporary individual carelessness.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Thanks for helping me better understand your thoughts on this.

Your overall point about ultimate responsibility for the bullet that leaves the gun is spot on.

What amazes me is that Ryan Frederick was not shot and/or killed after he fired his weapon at police.

Thanks again for your great blog!

10:29 PM  
Blogger Don Gwinn said...

I can agree for the most part, as long as we're not letting the TSA off the hook here. Their system isn't just faulty, it's stupid. Anybody with knowledge of firearms could have told them what a disaster that rule would be. Someone surely tried.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous beth said...

This just goes to show nobody should have guns. If the gun goes off on a pilot, it will go off on anybody.

5:42 AM  

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