Most everyone probably heard about the gun accidentally fired in the passenger plan cockpit last week.
But did you hear about the designs that lead to this human error?
I had to do some detective work (and quizzing gun owners) to find the following pictures:
Here is the gun in question (or similar enough) showing the safety and the spaces in front of and behind the trigger.
Pilots keep the gun in a hoster (see below).
Users report some difficulty ascertaining whether the gun is “locked” into the holster. If it is not, then the trigger can be in an unexpected place (namely, higher in the holster than the shaped holster seems to indicate.)
The TSA requires pilots who have been issued these guns to padlock the trigger for every takeoff and landing. Reports are that pilots do this about 10 times for a shift. Therefore, let’s assume we have 10 chances for error in using the holster and in using the padlock.
The padlock goes through the trigger. It should go behind, to keep anyone from pulling the trigger. If the gun is 100% in the holster, this is the case. If it is not… then the padlock can end up in FRONT of the trigger. The opaque holster prevents a visual check of the trigger.
The holster also prevents a visual check of the safety.
All of this might be forgiven, or addressed with training, if it weren’t for the fact that there are numerous other ways to prevent a gun from firing rather than locking something through the trigger. Remember, we should be on the “Guard” step of “Design out, Guard, then Train.”
I’m not even going to discuss whether pilots should have guns.
For an amusing take, see “Trust is not Transitive.”