By this time you’ve probably heard about the Force Science News report on weapon-mounted lights by Dr. Bill Lewinski. Specifically examined were the pistol-mounted lights with pressure-activated switches manufactured by SureFire. The review was inspired by a negligent discharge situation where a pistol with a light attached was involved. The “suspected drug-dealer” being held at gunpoint was shot and killed by a police officer using said gun light.
In his report Dr. Lewinski made several very serious assertions. Of these, Lewinski asserts that despite training to do otherwise officers under stress tend to move their fingers to the trigger. He also goes on to discuss sympathetic motor response and digital/muscle confusion during stress “you think you are doing one but instead doing another.”
Here’s the thing, he is right. All those statements are absolutely true. They are also not exactly shocking revelations. Professional firearms trainers have for years understood Sympathetic Motor Response. They understand the affects of adrenaline on fine motor skills during life and death situations. Here’s the rub, all these issues were in place LONG before the advent of the weapon-mounted light.
The muscle (digital) confusion and trigger-touching issues are real but they are not the fault of weapon-mounted lights. Cops were ND’ing their guns long before SureFire hung out their shingle. So, what is the solution?
Return to the Dark Ages?
Regarding bright white lights mounted to defensive firearms, the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. I don’t see the law enforcement community going backwards and stripping away all the tactical lights from handguns and long guns. Should we return to the dark ages and go back to using “Rayovac” aluminum flashlights that weighed two-pounds and put out a whopping 50 candle-power?
One statistic that cannot be calculated is this: How many negligent shootings have been prevented by the advent of weapon-mounted lights? Forget negligent for a minute, how many bad guys have surrendered after being bathed in white light thus realizing they’ve been had?
Many folks love to tout visible laser sights as “life-savers” because this perp or that surrendered after seeing the red laser dot dancing around on their chest. Could the case also be made that innumerable bad guys, who were otherwise prone to violence, decided to live to fight another day and submitted to arrest after they were powered down with blinding white light? These statistics are more elusive but worth considering nonetheless.