Officer Peter Liang’s Magic Gun

The jury has begun deliberation in the case of the accidental shooting death of Akai Gurley by NYPD officer Peter Liang.

Officer Liang came up with a highly contrived explanation for the shooting: the gun just shot itself.

“I heard something on my left side; it was a quick sound and it just startled me,” said Liang, as transcribed by the New York Times. “And the gun just went off after I tensed up.”

There’s just one glaring issue with Liang’s explanation: unlike the movies, in real life guns do not fire on their own. In movies, seemingly any time someone drops a gun it goes off, but in reality it takes substantial application of pressure to fire a firearm.

That’s why Kevin Michalowski of the pro-gun US Concealed Carry Association said, “I will never use the term accidental discharge when talking about a firearm. That is because firearms do not fire themselves. They do not ‘go off.’…If that firearm becomes loud before you intend it to become loud, you are negligent.” (Emphasis added.)

The firearm Liang used was a Glock 19 9-millimeter pistol, which is designed to require 5.5 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure. But the NYPD, to err on the side of caution, has them modified to require 12 PSI in order to fire. This means the NYPD requires more than double the amount of trigger pull pressure that the industry recognizes as sufficient for a firearm not to “just go off.” The pull pressure is so high that a number of officers have griped that they cannot get an accurate shot because of the force needed to fire.

Liang may have hoped that the jury would believe the media myth that guns “just go off,” and perhaps he has even convinced himself of that. Fortunately, in this case the jury actually got to try the firearm he used to see just how much muscle is required to put 12 PSI of pressure on a trigger.

So Officer Liang might not be as convincing in his claim that his gun magically fired on its own.