The responsible and safe use of firearms revolves around four simple, fundamental rules:
1) All guns are loaded—always.
2) Don’t point a gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
3) Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until moments before pulling the trigger.
4) Always be certain of your target and backstop.
There are variations of syntax and procedure revolving around these rules. For example, thinking all guns loaded requires applying the correct manual of arms for a given firearm, when handling it, accepting it from someone else, or handing it to someone else, to ensure it is, without question, unloaded. But the general intent of the four rules is clear.
Another very obvious rule of gun safety is one never carries a gun when intoxicated. Unfortunately, it now seems we must add yet another rule:
5) Don’t let FBI agents carry guns.
An F.B.I. counterterrorism supervisor is under internal investigation after a woman stole his gun following a night of heavy drinking in a North Carolina hotel, according to documents and government officials.
In July, Robert Manson, a unit chief in the F.B.I.’s international terrorism section, had his Glock .40-caliber handgun, a $6,000 Rolex watch and $60 in cash stolen from his room at the Westin hotel in Charlotte, N.C., according to a police report.
Do FBI agents make enough to afford $6000 dollar watches? It reminds me of an old Steve Martin routine where he talked about buying a $300 dollar pair of socks. It was funny because, for normal people, the mere idea of spending that kind of money on socks was absurd, and people who did spend that kind of money in the audience were too ashamed to admit it. In any case, perhaps I’m just cheap, but I blushed when Mrs. Manor wanted a $300 dollar iWatch. Of course, we got it. She’s magnificent and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her, but I’m used to $20 dollar Casios. The idea of spending $6000 for a watch is so far below my radar it’s sonar. But back to the hapless, drunken FBI supervisor.
It appears he and colleagues were in Charlotte for some sort of training, and he met several “exotic dancers” in a bar, and doing what FBI agents away from home apparently do, got drunk and took her back to his hotel room. Presumably they spent the night discussing counter terror tactics, perhaps even engaging in practical exercises, and he presumably fell asleep, as drunken FBI counter-terrorism supervisors apparently tend to do. No word yet on whether other FBI agents were involved in extra curricular counter-terror exercises. If so, one would have to appreciate their initiative, if not their judgment.
At 6:30 the next morning, police officers for the department were called to the hotel. Mr. Manson was incapacitated because of alcohol, according to the police report, which he did not file himself. A fellow agent, Kevin Thuman, gave the report, which says the theft happened from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. The hotel bar closes at 2 a.m.
The gun was identified in the police report as a Glock 27, a compact model that is easy to conceal. Federal law allows agents to carry concealed weapons while off duty, but not while they are intoxicated. It is unclear where Mr. Manson kept the gun. F.B.I. rules prohibit agents from leaving their guns in unsecure places. Every room in the Westin is equipped with a safe.
One of my favorite stories from my police days involved a skateboarder who carved a turn into the under-building police parking garage one day at shift change. He rolled toward a group of officers who were immediately alarmed because the kid was holding a loaded H&K MP5 submachine gun. Fortunately, he was smart enough not to be holding it in an offensive posture, and the officers didn’t shoot him.
The story was simple: the kid was skating in the nearby under-building federal parking garage, and chanced upon the MP5, reposing and unattended, on the closed trunk lid of a standard FBI-type four door black sedan. No one was around, so he thought he ought to take it to the police, and did just that. A short time later, after we called the FBI office wondering it they were short an MP5, a very sheepish young FBI agent showed up inquiring where it might be. We were kind, but he didn’t show his face around our shop for more than a year.
Another of my favorites, a classic, involves a rather large, imposing DEA agent, giving a gun safety lecture to a class of school children. You see it coming, don’t you? He shot himself in the leg, and tried to look cool as he bled all over the place. That’s not the sort of thing one can adequately explain.
The Charlotte PD report on the incident may be found here.
Sadly, there is substantial reason to wonder if the FBI is trustworthy these days. That’s never a good state of affairs. Incidents like this don’t help.