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July 25, 2006

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Spray and Pray: Why cops should go back to carrying revolvers

Here are a number of things that don’t fill me with confidence:

  • Condoleezza Rice, on her way to anywhere
  • George W. Bush
  • Dick Cheney wearing a game vest
  • The TSA, doing anything
  • Cops with guns

Since the first four are mostly outside the provenance of this blog, let’s talk about the fifth. What brings it up is a newspaper story revealing that on July 23, three New York City Police officers fired a total of 26 shots to kill a pit bull that was chewing on a fellow officer. The three who did the shooting were grazed by stray bullets.
According to police who commented on the incident, time seems to slow down in a violent encounter, and in that time officers keep on sending those rounds out. In this confrontation, one officer fired 13 rounds, another fired 12, and the third officer only one. No doubt he will be reprimanded. The officer who was being chewed on did not shoot, being otherwise occupied.
Most police officers nowadays are armed with automatic pistols that hold 16 or 17 shots and have double-action triggers that are guaranteed to prevent accidental discharges but are also guaranteed to prevent accurate shooting. So when it’s time to go to powder city, the average copper is going to rely on volume, not precision, and if you happen to be in the immediate vicinity, God help you.
Maybe we should bring back the 6-shot revolver.


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Having worked for, and with several police departments, including two years as the training officer as well as having managed a number of cities, I have seen the number of LEOs who are gun enthusiests (from shooting to IDPA to hunting)plummet over the years. Far too many now don't practice beyond what is required and many departments do not have adequate budgets to have decent training to simulate real world situations (and not to pick a fight, but IDPA and the rest just isn't real world). Simunition and air-soft type practice, followed up by a letter from the department to the "widow" is needed. Otherwise, we will continue to see this kind of travesty continue!


LEOs don't get paid to train? Again, LEOs don't get paid to train? I don't care! Bottom line, it's no different now than it was a 150-years ago, citizens are hiring gunfighters to stop the criminals should it come to that. That is the bottom line for the job.

I just read an article in my local newspaper today that said the starting pay for a CHP is over $60,000 a year (no overtime, education or any other bump is considered in that figure, and the state picks up all of their retirement, courtesy of a new 8% raise to cover their mandatory contribution). Don't you think an LEO is at least somewhat responsible for bringing some qualifications to the job for that kind of starting salary? That is pretty good starting pay for someone with no job experience, shouldn’t they at least be able to handle a weapon.

I train for my work, at my own expense, which is how I stay good at what is expected of me and I continue to get work by doing so. If I had a job where I was always expected to be able to protect the public (let alone protect my partner and myself), I would sure as hell train myself and pay for shooting schools until I felt adequately prepared for a gunfight, which is part of the job description. If someone doesn’t like guns, what the hell are they thinking when they take a job that REQUIRES carrying a gun, and, they’re expected to know how to use it? If you like guns, why wouldn’t you practice? I think part of the problem is that an LEOs sensitivity training is paid for, and it’s working. A revolver or a semi-auto doesn’t fit into the equation. These aren’t bus drivers and being an LEO isn’t just a job, it’s a profession, be a professional and do what it takes to be qualified as a professional.

JA Demko

Gunfighters? Please. LE exists to enforce the law. Sometimes that means use of a firearm, but not often. You may have heard somewhere along the way that most police officers go their entire career without ever firing their pistol in the line of duty. That, sir, is a fact. Further, if I were part of the interview process, I would blackball any candidate who indicated that he did think of himself as a "gunfighter."

Roderick Padilla

Armed police can shoot back, with concern for the perp. Armed citizens can shoot back, with concern for themselves. Perps shoot without concern for anybody. Logically and legally, who should have the superior firepower?


Do you think LE gets very far enforcing the laws against the gang bangers, or even the pit bulls, with a stick?

Yes, through the years, I have known several people in LE and only one has had to actually kill anyone. In fact, several officers were involved; his bullet however actually hit its mark. Most have never had to even draw their weapon, but aren’t you supposed to be prepared to use the tools of the trade. Practice, practice, practice! PC attitudes do not decide the winner in a confrontation; in fact, those that are proficient with their weapon tend to have to pull it less frequently. Someone that feels and exudes confidence in his or her martial abilities will have to prove it less often.

Superior firepower, what constitutes that exactly? If it’s the number of bullets you can throw out there 5 guys (not an uncommon amount of officers to show up when a call about a gun goes over the air) with revolvers double the firepower of anyone with a semi-auto, plus I should think if they practice enough to hit what they’re aiming at, they have a better chance of hitting their target than an individual does. Most shootings are decided in 2 to 3 rounds, from what I’ve read.

It’s not so much the weapon’s capacity as it is the users proficiency. Attitude and practice will decide violent outcomes. Our LEOs need more instruction in the nature of their job so they can feel the confidence required. If that means they have to buy their own ammo and practice on their own time and their own dime, so be it. I would rather have someone that considered his or her skill level to be that of a gunfighter than someone untrained and not confident enough to feel they could control the situation of the moment. I’m much less likely to get hit with a stray that way, which was what the topic of this blog started out as.



JA Demko

See, I'm a big fan of anybody who carries a weapon being competent in its use. I'm not a big fan of cops who think of themselves as gunfighters or who think of the gun as the main tool in the box. The basic reason that cops carry guns is the same reason you do and other citizens do: self-protection. The on-going militarization of police in the US is a big part of why so many people don't like them. When they start thinking of themselves as gunslingers, soldiers, or other trigger-pullers instead of peace officers, then things have definitely gone awry.


I don’t want competent shooters on the police force, I want someone better than I am, at least the guys and gals that get sent out onto the streets. I want the LEOs that write up charges on those arrested to better skilled grammatically than I am so that the charges have a better chance with the DA. I want an end to all this PC BS forced upon LE, I want only the best working for me that I can afford, and they are working for me.

I realize that there weren’t a lot of in-depth interviews with gunfighters over the years, but I do remember reading one many years ago where the gunfighter stated his best tool in the box was his head. It’s the spray and pray crowd that might “think” of their selves as gunslingers that cause the problems and the media hype that follows putting a bad mark on law enforcement in general.

This blog isn’t the first time I’ve seen the topic of so many rounds needed to hit the target in the NYPD. If these guys aren’t willing to spend time (and yes, money out of their own pocket) training or they aren’t trainable, they should be fired or another home found for them where they aren’t a danger to themselves or others.

Shoot what you’re good with, then practice some more. Most departments will allow you to carry a different weapon, albeit at your expense. If you can’t carry what works for you, practice even more, or get off the street. Adrenaline rushes screw with us all at one time or another, but if it’s your job, practice even more. 6, 12, 15, it doesn’t matter, they all come out of the barrel one at a time.

Mitchell Gregg

The originator of this article/blog should be shot. DELETED like you shouldn't be permitted to start blogs. DELETED!!!

Mitchell Gregg

How about changing your name to David Putzal cause you're a putz!!

JA Demko

My guess is that Mitchell is either a cop who can't shoot or a man too deeply emotionally involved with an autopistol.


Yep. I wonder what Freud would say about Mitchell's little tantrum...

Mitchell Gregg

Hey JA Demko, neither. So take your liberal DELETED to California and play with your skateboards. And KJ, I was surely successful in flushing out a DELETED like YOU. Only a DELETED like yourself would say something DELETED like "I wonder what Freud would say...". Get real you DELETED and GET A LIFE.


Dave, you have a troll on the blog - a troll struggling with his inadequacies.

JA Demko

I wouldn't even glorify him by calling him a troll. A troll, you see, is supposed to have some skill provoking people. Our boy Mitchell is more like some unfortunate soul who has both Tourette's syndrome and catastrophic mental retardation. He deserves a certain degree of our sympathy, but we needn't join him as he spouts obscenities and smears himself with his own feces.


I stand corrected. And here I thought poor Mitchell suffered from a severe case of penis envy.


Mitchell, have you had your head dunked in the toilet one too many times in high school?


Is Field & Stream paying you to write this leftist drival? This reminds me of the anti-gun, anti-"saturday night special" article that F&S printed in the 70's. I have the magazine around here somewhere to remind me why I will not purchase the magazine.

I demand F&S to retract this liberal tirade. F&S and Outdoor life have both been printing this nonsense about having to many rounds or (Hanback)shooting game to far away etc. To the editors of both of these mags and to the authors of the blogs I say you will never get a dime out of me and you should all be fired. The last thing we need is a bunch of pandering leftist trying to make us feel guilty for owning guns, shooting and hunting.
I am no friend of wild-shooting, trigger-happy cops but training is the issue not the number of rounds or how fast they pull the trigger you Fing moron.

Oh, and by the way, I think President Bush is doing just fine in the war on terror.

JA Demko

What do Moe, Larry, and Shemp have to say on the matter? Why is it that Bushistas and other GOPbots automatically call anyone who isn't properly doubleplus goodthinkful a leftist? Do you even know where that term comes from or what it means? I suspect not. Probably you'll do a quick googlesearch on it before replying so as not to look an utter ass.
As for your opinion on GWB and the War on Terror...well, it's your opinion. You have a right to it that I will die to defend, however asinine and ill-informed it may be.

JA Demko

"I demand F&S to retract this liberal tirade. F&S and Outdoor life have both been printing this nonsense about having to many rounds or (Hanback)shooting game to far away etc. To the editors of both of these mags and to the authors of the blogs I say you will never get a dime out of me and you should all be fired."

This deserves a special place in the Hall of Impotent Rants. You aren't a stockholder in the company, you don't subscribe to the magazine, and you don't even pick up an issue off the rack...yet you are making demands? Maybe you are unaware of this, but in magazine publishing, all the money that really matters comes from advertisers. Income from subscriptions and news stand sales are inadequate to fund a national glossy. Writers, photographers, and other employees like to be paid, you know. Smith & Wesson matter to the publishers. Coors matters to the publishers. Ford and Chevrolet matter to the publishers. Hell, even the advertisers way in the back for things like "Better Sex for Old People" videos matter. They all matter because they are sources of revenue and the publishers, therefore, like to keep them happy. Purple-in-the-face-and- spitting nobodies proudly frothing over how they haven't spent a dime on the magazine in 30 years are scarcely enough of a concern that the publishers will be lining up any time soon for the privilege of kissing your ass. Just some food for thought.

Ralph the Rifleman

First off, enraged-Red Zone attacking-animals can take an amazing amount of punishment while in the heat of battle whether it be a baseball bat or firearm. This is not unlike a drug hyped perp,body armored wearing,that can take a number of shots before going down. It goes without saying a brain/spine shot should do the trick for that "one shot stop", but real World shoot outs just don't happen that way. Since 9/11, it has also been more common to see carbine carrying police that at one time would have been unaccetable on our streets--times are changing.In my case,I have served in both military, and civilian, police positions and luckily have never had to shoot anyone in the line of duty, but training does include both the physical and mental state of mind to help deal with a life threatening situation. Having said all that--I prefer an auto pistol for duty carry,but if I were responding to a known situation-out comes the shotgun-when it's MY LIFE on the line, one is NEVER overgunned!


"Purple-in-the-face-and- spitting nobodies proudly frothing over how they haven't spent a dime on the magazine in 30 years are scarcely enough of a concern that the publishers will be lining up any time soon for the privilege of kissing your ass."

JA Demko - that is one high-class bitch slap. I love it.


Hey Sugartits,
You forgot Joe!!!
I know exactly what I am talking about and the point is that the comments about cops using revolvers is just as absurb as Petzal being a leftist liberal. You might as well say you think our soldiers shoot way to wildly and they should go back to using muzzleloaders so the accuracy will go up.
I am no GOPbot and I am not a fan of Bush overall but in this world of Kerry, Dean, Gore and the rest you could not have asked for a better president to kick some raghead ass.
Smith and Wesson, Clinton and you what is the difference? Nothing.

Vincent Belloli

As a law enforcement officer, police firearms instructor (pistol/combat shotgun/patrol rifle), I would like to share a few thoughts. First, most officers shoot more proficiently with semiauto pistols than with revolvers. Pistols are easier to carry, are MUCH faster and easier to reload under stress, and can of course carry more ammunition.

As far as the NYPD incident involving the dog shooting: there were obviously some issues here, the most obvious being a cross-fire situation. One of the officers must have not been watching his background. Also, I do think it seems unreasonable to need so many rounds to incapacitate a dog, but then again I've never had to shoot an angry pit bull with my duty pistol. Also consider that NYPD only authorizes 9mm pistols, and the issued ammunition is Speer 124gr +P Gold Dot. That would not be my first choice of ammo for going after large dogs.

I have been to several instructor schools, and I've never seen training on how to kill a dog. If I were faced with that situation, I would choose shot placement based not on LE training, but on my hunting background. Most cops, especially in big cities, are not hunters. They would tend to shoot for center of mass, which is how officers are trained to shoot human targets. This allows the greatest chance of a hit, but not necessarily the best placement for a quick kill on animals such as dogs.

Last, shame on all of you who are criticizing this incident without the background to QUALIFY you to critique it.


JA Demko

"Hey Sugartits"
Before Mel Gibson's meltdown, would you have used this salutation? If not, I have to wonder why you would want to parrot the ravings of a drunken anti-semite?
If so, thank you for the compliment, but I don't swing that way.

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