On Saturday night, a showboating off duty FBI agent was filmed dancing in a Denver nightclub, before dropping his pistol on the floor, going to pick it up, and discharging the weapon into a crowded room. According to the Denver Post, the round fired by the agent hit one man in the leg, and the victim was promptly taken to the hospital. The agent was taken into custody before being transferred to an FBI supervisor, though the incident remains under investigation with potential charges pending.

Watching the footage of the incident was, to adopt a bit of internet slang, cringe worthy. The agent, who has apparently devoted more time to learning dance moves than he has to the fundamentals of carrying a firearm, was not only wrong in the moment, he made a series of bad decisions that culminated in injuring an innocent bystander — and these aren’t bad decisions of the “highly trained field agents should know better” sort, they’re more like violations of common sense and the basic rules of gun handling. Let’s start at the beginning:

 

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Holster choice and placement

Now, I’m not going to be that guy that argues that where I wear my holster is the only right place to carry, but I will be the one that says your holster choice and placement need to be based on your situation and training. The holster employed by this FBI agent doesn’t offer any form of retention beyond gravity and friction, which is usually just fine for a trip into town but is notably not sufficient for a lot of physical activity. There’s a reason the holsters most uniformed law enforcement officers wear have retention straps and the like: because they know they may be running, jumping, and wrestling with suspects, and it’s integral that you not lose control of your firearm.

Choosing a holster that offers no assisted retention for a night out dancing, then placing that holster at the small of your back (where you’re least likely to be able to actively prevent someone from grabbing it in a crowded night club) demonstrates a significant lack of forethought. Your holster needs to suit your environment and situation.

Forgetting that you’re carrying

If you carry a firearm with enough regularity (as many of us are prone to do) there’s bound to come a time when sliding your firearm into your holster feels no different than slipping your wallet into your back pocket. The weapon becomes an extension of your wardrobe, and in many ways, of you — it’s a good thing to become comfortable with your firearm and with where/how you wear it, but there’s a fine line between comfort and complacency.

No matter how accustomed to the feel of your pistol you become, carrying a firearm is an active responsibility. Wearing the weapon means you are either ready to defend yourself and others or you’re a danger to yourself and others. Drinking and partying is a great way to lose sight of the responsibility carrying a firearm represents, but even sober people can forget about the dangers of irresponsibility when firearms are involved. When you carry a firearm, you need to stay cognizant of it always.

If you can’t do that, don’t carry.

Trigger discipline

So, you’ve already made some bad choices: you wore a crappy holster, had a few drinks, started showing off your dance moves and dropped your pistol in front of everyone. Things couldn’t get any worse, right? Your training tells you to regain control of the weapon as quickly as possible, your embarrassment tells you to try to play it cool. So, you let those competing instincts dictate your actions, and —

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You shoot a guy because you grabbed the weapon by the trigger?

Trigger discipline is, in my opinion, probably the most important skill you need to develop when dealing with firearms. Guns come in all sorts of shapes and colors, but the mechanism remains pretty much the same. Pulling the trigger makes it go bang, so keep your damn finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. It’s among the four firearm safety rules we bash into the heads of Marine recruits for a reason: not shooting someone is really easy to do. All you have to do is not pull the trigger.

Again, we’re not talking advanced FBI training courses here, we’re talking firearm community college 101 level stuff.

Take responsibility

In just 11 seconds, this video manages to make me angry about a dozen times, and the ending is no exception. After discharging his weapon into a crowded room, this break dancing FBI agent doesn’t immediately rush to assess the injury to the man he just caused, nor does he even really seem to acknowledge what happened. Instead, he tucks the pistol back into his holster and raises his hands as if to say “whoops” before just walking away casually in another direction.

Here’s another angle that shows his dismissal of the incident.

This is where my contempt for this guy transitions out of “everyone should know better” territory and into the realm of “you were trained differently.” Admittedly, I’ve never served in law enforcement, but I was a part of an anti-terrorism team in Southern California that trained with personnel from the LAPD SWAT team. Those men were professionals that, despite carrying weapons on them at almost all times, treated each of them with the respect that they deserved.

A weapon was just fired in a crowded nightclub. A man was shot. And this FBI agent just walks away casually.

Nothing to see here.

Once again, as I’ve written so many times on SOFREP, training is important — but it doesn’t make decisions for you. You don’t have to have the best training in the world to be a safe and responsible firearm owner, just like you can be a completely irresponsible one despite receiving the training. The choice is yours.

Image courtesy of YouTube