To identify environmental and physiological factors that may interact to bring about accidental discharges of firearms; and to make suggestions regarding the training of police officers with the aim of reducing such incidents.
A pistol was fitted with sensors to register the pressure exerted on both the hand‐stock and the trigger of the weapon. Participants then performed 13 different tasks, each of which required the use of different limbs while holding the prepared weapon.
Results suggest that motor activity in different limbs can lead to a significant increase in grip force exerted on a firearm, and that the amount of force exerted on the weapon is dependent on the intensity and type of movement and the limb involved in the movement. For movements of the contralateral arm a tendency for higher forces to be exerted on a weapon during pulling than during pushing movements was found, whereas the force with which the movement was performed did not seem to have any influence. In contrast, for movements involving the legs, findings indicate that increasingly more forceful leg‐movements lead to a progressively higher risk of unintentionally discharging a firearm due to unintended muscle activity, whereas the type of movement does not seem to influence the amount of force produced in the hand carrying the weapon. Generally, the use of the lower limbs appears to offer a greater danger for involuntary discharges resulting from unintended muscle activity than movements involving the contralateral arm.
Results point towards evidence‐based methods for training police officers that may reduce the danger of involuntary discharges of a firearm in a real life situation.
This paper provides the first empirical research to identify which movements of the human body are more or less likely to induce unintended muscle activity in the hand carrying a firearm which may evoke involuntary discharges.
Heim, C., Schmidtbleicher, D. and Niebergall, E. (2006), "Towards an understanding of involuntary firearms discharges: Possible risks and implications for training", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 434-450. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510610684683Download as .RIS
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