Monday, June 30, 2008

What was Rule 2 again?

I've never had a high opinion of the French military (something about WWII and a house of cards), but this is utter stupidity.

A quick summary: In what appears to have been a simulation/demonstration of a terrorist situation during "open barracks day," where "a crowd of hundreds of visitors [were] watching parachute commandos simulate an assault to free hostages," a soldier in the crowd, playing the part of a terrorist, opened fire on the crowd. This was part of the simulation, and he was using blanks. He then reloaded and fired again, only this time, his second magazine was loaded with live rounds. At least 17 people were injured, including 5 children. At this point they are claiming this was accidental.

There are several points of stupidity here.

1. I don't know how it works in the military (especially the French military), but if I know I'm going to be firing blanks into a crowd, I'm not going to be using any magazine I haven't loaded myself. I want to visually ensure that every single round that goes in those magazines is really, truly, a blank. Then I'm going to mark those magazines in a very distinct, very obvious, and very noticeable way. Something on the order of day-glow orange tape around the entire body of the magazine.

2. When I reload, I'm going to take a moment to look at that fresh magazine. Is it completely wrapped in that same day-glow orange tape? If not, it doesn't get used. If it is, I'm going to look at the first round, which should be visible at the top of the magazine. I'm going to verify it really is a blank by looking at it.* I'm going to look at it twice. If there is any doubt whatsoever that it really is a blank, the magazine doesn't get used. Period.
*(This is assuming that there is a visible difference for blanks that will work with the weapon in question. I've never actually seen one, but not having some visible indication strikes me as incredibly stupid. More so than this particular situation.)

3. I'm not going to be so stupid as to actually point the muzzle of my weapon at any person. Remember Rule 2??!! (Left side of the page, at the top. Read it again. Refresh it in your memory.) Even blanks can kill, in the right circumstances. Remember Brandon Lee? You usually don't realize the right circumstances exist until it's too late. Do you want to kill that child? No? THEN DON'T POINT YOUR GUN AT HIM!!!!!!

I can understand that in military training firing blanks at another soldier may be an acceptable risk. The risk of death or injury from a blank (or an unnoticed live round) is actually pretty low, and the benefits (i.e. training someone to react correctly when someone else is shooting at them) may be worth the risk. But this should never, ever, happen at a simple demonstration, and especially not by firing blanks at civilians or observers. Primary responsibility lies with the soldier who pulled the trigger, but this was a failure at all levels involved in planning and executing this demonstration.

Fortunately, no one was killed by this idiocy.

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