Deadly threat: Going 'safe' too soon


When firearms trainer John Farnam worked with a group of state police instructors recently to strengthen their urban rifle skills, he encountered a potentially fatal bad habit that he relentlessly drilled them to break.

The instant a shooting exercise ended, the instructors all engaged the manual safety on their AR-15s — a practice Farnam disdains as “ossified orthodoxy” passed down to active law enforcement from a tradition of “sterile competition” shooting.

Back in 1975, officer survival pioneer Pierce Brooks wrote the landmark book Officer Down, Code 3, in which he listed 10 Deadly Errors that get cops killed. High on his list was “relaxing too soon.” 

Nearly four decades later, Farnam says that’s still a widespread problem, exemplified by instructors and officers alike prematurely activating the manual safety on their long guns.

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