"I'm the only one in this room professional enough…"

April 16th, 2006

Famous last words, especially when you're a Federal Agent lecturing students on gun safety, and you shoot yourself after saying this. In case you're not familiar with the sad case of Lee Paige, here goes.

Paige was lecturing a group of students and parents of the Orlando Minority Golf Association in April of 2004. He gave a very condescending lecture, during which he held up his duty weapon and said, "I'm the only one in this room, that I know of, professional enough to carry this Glock 40." He then pointed the gun at his foot and discharged a round into his leg.

The best part? It was all captured on tape. In March of 2005, the video was leaked to the internet, and was received with a mixture of shock, bemusement and (quite justified) mockery. Paige was suspended from his duties, and the above quote became folklore.

At 1:40, he draws his weapon and hands it to his assistant, who assures him it's unloaded. Without checking for himself, he holds the gun up to the classroom, then makes the condescending pronouncement, "Fifty Cent, Too Short…all of 'em talk about a Glock 40 [there is no such model, it's a Glock 22]…Okay…I'm the only one in this room, that I know of, professional enough to carry this Glock 40. I'm the only one…"

At this point, the slide is locked back, but there is quite obviously a magazine still in the gun.

At 1:47, he drops the slide, and for some reason, pulls the trigger. The gun discharges, and here I've got to give him credit: he flinches but does not scream. From what I've heard about gunshots, I'd have screamed.


At 2:18, he tells another person, "I had a AD [accidental discharge]," as if this weren't obvious. He also admits that he was hit. The assistant gets on the phone with someone, presumably medical assistance.

Paige continues to lecture, claiming that this demonstrates how easy it is to injure oneself with a gun. Sure, if you're an incompetent government stooge. At this point, the crowd is disturbed and muttering. This is when I'd have gotten my kids the hell out of there and contacted a lawyer.

At 2:55, he asks his assistant to hand him a carbine, at which point the crowd goes into revolt. Someone repeatedly yells, "put it down!" There are scatterings of laughter, and Paige repeats, "it's an empty weapon!" The crowd is unconvinced, and Paige gets frustrated, packs up and leaves.

Paige deserved to lose his job over this. He's right about one thing, if you're careless and stupid with guns, you can expect disaster. He had no place taking a loaded weapon into a classroom, and he certainly shouldn't have trusted a flunkie to unload and safe it correctly without checking. It's Rule #1: always assume the gun is loaded.

He's very fortunate that he only shot his foot. Furthermore, it's even more fortunate that nobody else in the room was injured from a ricochet. Then there's the possibility of hearing damage. The .40 is a loud round, about 160 decibels, and this happened in a closed room with alot of acoustically reflective surfaces. I'd have sued for reckless endangerment in a heartbeat, and had I or my children suffered any hearing loss, I'd have been sure the state paid for the finest care imaginable.

If this were me or any other civilian, I'd be in jail for this. Instead, Paige was placed on administrative leave. Rather than accept the embarassment and move on, he's now suing the DEA for leaking the tape.

This guy just isn't too bright.

One thing this illustrates is the fallacy of the whole "our policemen are the only ones qualified to carry firearms" argument. Police officers have a much higher rate of injuries due to negligent discharges (I said negligent, there's no such thing as an accidental discharge. It's negligence.), and on average, they're no more qualified than most gun-owning civilians.

There are some officers in any given department who are avid shooters, and good ones, but for the most part, the majority of police officers only go to the range twice a year, when they're forced to demonstrate only the most rudimentary proficiency.

Mr. Paige claims he was "one of the best, if not the best undercover agent in the DEA" in his affidavit. If he was even mildly competent, those four simple rules would have been ingrained in his brain to the point of subconscious habit, and this never would have happened.

The only one professional enough...

1 Comment
  1. Mother Tongue Annoyances » Lee Paige: How NOT to Speak on Gun Safety wrote, running WordPress 2.0.2

    […] Next, let's examine Mr. Paige's repeated references to his "Glock 40." I'm no expert on firearms, but I'll defer to the author of the Lonely Machines weblog, who claims that there is no such gun as a "Glock 40." In performing some preliminary research, I tend to agree. Instead, there exists a .40 caliber weapon called a Glock 22. […]

    Pingback on May 31, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

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