First it should be noted that it is indeed a tragedy that LAPD officer Enrique Chavez was shot by his 3-year old son while driving with his son in the back seat. Apparently the officer’s gun was in the back seat as he drove, the child found it, and managed to pull the trigger while the gun was pointed in his father’s direction. Officer Chavez is now paralyzed. This is tragic for him and for his son as well who will grow up knowing that his father is paralyzed as a result of something he did.
However, it is tragic in the truest sense of the all that word implies as its Greek derivative was first defined by Aristotle. According to Aristotle a tragedy is a terrible and undeserved consequence of the tragic victims own doing. It is tragic not because the victim is faultless, but because the victim’s fault and the result that follows are so out of proportion. In all of Shakespeare’s tragic plays the victim himself sets the events in motion that lead to his tragic end. Hamlet dies just when he becomes ready to be a great king; but his earlier obsessions, while not the immediate cause of his death, are nevertheless the triggering events that led to his death. If the news reports are accurate (always a big “if”) so is the case with officer Chavez’s injury, except that his fault is much greater. Enough so as to make his own actions the actual cause of his injury.
Officer Chavez is suing Glock on the theory that a heavier trigger pull and a grip safety would have made it more difficult for his 3-year old son to have pulled the trigger on his gun. The trial judge threw the case out but a California Court of Appeals has recently reinstated it, and it will now go to trial.
It is speculative that officer Chavez’s claims, even if factually true, would have prevented this tragedy. But there is no doubt whatsoever that this unfortunate event would have been prevented if officer Chavez had not first broken a fundamental rule of firearm safety by failing to make sure his gun was properly stored so that unauthorized persons could not get hold of it, especially children.
He now argues that Glock should have manufactured its gun with a grip safety and heavier trigger pull. Glock pistols are entirely safe just the way they are if handled professionally, as a sworn police officer is bound to do. All Glocks have internal safeties and a trigger safety that balances the needs of safety with the need of the police for a gun that works every time it is needed. That’s probably why Glock has the majority of the police market for it firearms. Nearly all modern firearms are dependable but none so much as a Glock. When a cop really needs his gun to go bang right now to save his own life or the life of someone else, a Glock does the job very close to “every” time.
A standard Glock comes with a trigger pull of about 5.5 pounds. By changing out the connector trigger pull can be reduced to about 3.5 pounds, but only if the owner makes that modification. Glock does not ship any gun with a 3.5 pound connector. While after-market vendors will sell their version of the connector that reduces the trigger pull to anyone, Glock sells its factory made 3.5-pound connector only to police departments. I found nothing in any of the news stories I read that indicates whether officer Chavez’s Glock had been so modified.
But it’s irrelevant whether his gun was modified to lighten the trigger pull. Officer Chavez’s own negligence was both the cause in fact and the proximate cause of his injury.