Today we read a brief news item about an off-duty Baltimore police officer who shot themself in the leg.
An off-duty Baltimore police officer accidentally shot herself in the leg Wednesday in the Glen Oaks neighborhood, according to police.
The officer, whom police did not identify, was injured around 10:30 a.m. in the 1100 block of E. Northern Parkway, police said.
The officer was taken to an area hospital to be treated for a graze wound to the leg. The department’s Special Investigation Response Team, which investigates cases in which officers use force, discharge their weapons or are injured, is investigating.
If the investigation supports the initial version of the story—that a police officer, in the course of handling a gun, inflicted a gunshot wound on their own leg—then that police officer needs to be moved to a line of work that does not involve guns. When the government issues you a firearm, to be used to advance the interests and purposes of your fellow citizens, your job is to not make things worse with the gun.
It’s bad enough that armed private citizens get a pass on official punishment for self-inflicted home gun tragedies all the time, when a toddler gets killed, or a toddler shoots an adult, etc., but police officers are outward-facing public servants, and the same way a crooked cop should throw reasonable doubt all over an arrest record, an officer who fails to practice the Minimum Viable Policy of gun safety (not shooting yourself) throws a shroud of uncertainty over the validity of discharges of their weapon while on duty.
Whenever we hear about a non-lethal case of a police officer fumbling a bullet out of their weapon and into their own body we think of a solution reached by the fictional Sheriff of Mayberry, on the ancient television program The Andy Griffith Show. Sheriff Taylor’s deputy, Barney Fife, was so incapable of handling his weapon that he was ordered to carry his sidearm unloaded, with a bullet stored in his shirt pocket.
This show was a comedy, of course, and that’s an unrealistic solution, no Police Officers union would accept that, so the best thing to do with a Law Enforcement professional who shoots themselves is to remove them from Law Enforcement before anybody else gets hurt. The first step in serving and protecting the public is being able to control where your own bullets go.