Firearms Safety and MILO
by Annette Dashofy
This was the class we were all looking forward to. A chance to experience the firearms simulator and get a small taste of what police officers face. Before we started, I’d given myself the “It’s Only Make-Believe” speech. Nothing to stress over. Yeah. Right.
During the first part of the class, we were given an Introduction to Firearms Power Point presentation. Here are a few tidbits:
A “handgun” was first used in 1388.
There are three parts to a handgun: the frame, the barrel, and the action.
The thing that holds the bullets in a pistol is called a magazine, NOT a clip.
Semiautomatics were invented in 1895.
For those interested in terminology, there are no “accidental” discharges of weapons, only “negligent discharges.”
Actions can be single, double, or semiautomatic.
In case you’ve wondered what the caliber refers to, a 22 caliber rifle has a bore of 22/100 inch in diameter. Forty-five caliber is .450 and a 357 is .357.
A 99mm. is metric.
A 3030 refers to a .30 caliber round and 30 grains of powder.
A 3006 (thirty ot six) is a .30 caliber rifle plus the year the Army adopted it, which is 1906.
Shotguns are measured in “Gauge” which is the number of small lead balls in a pound.
Let’s talk ammunition. Most cartridges are centerfire. You can look at the base and see the small primer. A rimfire, found in .22 caliber cartridges, has no noticeable primer.
More on terminology: you don’t load a “bullet” into a gun. You load a “cartridge” into it. The bullet is part of the cartridge along with the case, the primer, and the powder.
Okay, that’s enough of the basics. After we took a short break, the fun began. Everyone in the class was given a chance to use the firearms simulator. It’s a really cool piece of technology. After we took our turns, the computer evaluated our performance and showed where we’d hit when we fired.
The first few students were given simple targets. Plates, pop ups, floating pumpkins which exploded on impact. Eeww. Pumpkin guts!
Then we started getting real scenarios. Bad guys holding hostages, beating the bejeezus out of someone and then turning on the officer (us).
It’s only make-believe, I kept reminding myself.
Finally it was my turn. In my scenario, I was sent to a bus parking lot. My on-film partner and I had to find two bad guys. My partner told me to take the lead. “Gee, thanks, buddy.” The first bad guy had another officer down, wounded, but alive. I ordered him to drop his weapon. For a moment, he didn’t. My finger tightened on the trigger. But then he complied and set the gun down. Yay!
My partner jumped in to cuff him. Told me he’d take care of this one, and I should go find the second bad guy. I’m thinking I don’t much like my partner at this point.
I found the second bad guy, who was on one of the buses, holding another officer in a head lock. He had his gun at the officer’s temple. The officer was screaming, “Shoot him! Shoot him!”
“It’s only make believe,” I reminded myself. But let me tell you, my heart was thumping on the back of my sternum like big old base drum.
I ordered the guy to put down his weapon. Twice. Meanwhile I’m trying to aim for his head. Don’t hit the officer he’s holding. Don’t shoot wild and possibly hit someone I can’t even see outside the bus. I was wishing I was aiming at one of those pumpkins instead. I was also wishing I’d had a chance to practice on something—anything—to see where the gun shot. On a practice range, I generally miss my first couple of shots, then I’m good. But I didn’t have that luxury in this case.
When the guy didn’t put his gun down, I squeezed off one shot. I think I took his ear off. Maybe part of the side of his skull, too. It was enough to definitely stop the threat. My fellow classmates approved.
I found out later that had I let the scenario run a moment longer, the guy was going to comply. But the instructor admitted it took him a really long time, so my shot was justified.
And I didn’t kill the hostage!
Next time: Drug Investigation and K-9 officers