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Question for Firearms Instructors, ADA Attorneys and other lawyer types


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This is kind of long, so bear with me.

 

I work for a Sheriff's Department that works with/for the courts and is not a "law enforcement" organization.  Deputies are not required to be armed but are given the option provided they can pass a qualification course.  Part of the course of fire requires the deputy to fire their pistol using only their right hand and part requires the deputy to fire their pistol using only their left hand.

 

We currently have an applicant in the last stages of the hiring process that has a non-functioning right hand that is incapable of holding or firing a firearm.  (I don't know the specifics of the injury)  The lack of a functioning right hand does not prevent him from performing the duties of our department, so the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires we hire him if he meets all other qualifications.  FWIW he is a retired Police Officer.  He has indicated that he would like the option to be armed while on duty, as provided by policy.

 

The question posed concerns what liabilities the department accepts by amending the qualification course for this individual.  Likewise, what liabilities would attach if the department refuses to adapt the course of fire to his disability.  The required qualification score would remain the same.  The change would only to be allow him to use only his left hand for the entire course of fire.  Also, the change would only apply to this deputy and other deputies with a similar disability.  Medical documentation of the disability will be required.

 

My view is that as long as he passes the qualification course, and notation of the ADA adapted course of fire is made on the qualification form, he's good to go.  Additionally, I think a handicapped person would likely be more in need of an "equalizer" if attacked than an otherwise healthy person might be.  

 

I would appreciate the thoughts of other Firearms Instructors and Lawyers, especially any ADA Lawyers, on this matter.

 

Thanks,

 

Angus

 

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Well, I'm a lawyer, but not an ADA one, but that is such a specific question, regarding a specific individual and department that it is the sort of thing one should get serious direct advice about from someone with a client, that 

being the department or the individual in question.

 

Internet 'legal advice' is best directed to generalities and hypothetical situations. Just my view.

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Reasonable accommodation has been requested by a person with a disability. You have already determined that he can do the job and the requested adaptation will allow him to perform the job function.

 

Accommodate as explained and run it by the Counties hr lawyer.  

 

In my experience this has a lot of opportunity to go south quick.

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Maybe I’m slow or my reading comprehension is off, but do you mean a specific unit within the Sheriff’s Department that is not a law enforcement unit? Or is the whole Sheriff’s Department not law enforcement? 

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Can a "qualification score"  (I hate that term) be attained with the shots fired by the right hand being counted as misses?

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Someone might be able to make a case for “reasonable accommodations”. The ADA law says that if someone can do a job with reasonable accommodations then an agency or company should take those into account and provide accommodations if they can. One could say since he is not required to carry a gun and can still do the main tasks of the job without it then that is accommodation enough. 
Just because an applicant or employee “wants” to do something it doesn’t make it an obligation that an agency must allow it. 

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Been sued personally and professionally under ADA, I hold an MS in HR Management. One of the suits was after state and federal investigatory release with no findings. 2 years. Then they issue a right to sue letter stating no untoward activity was found BUT the employee retains the right to sue in civil court.

 

That case got litigated 3 more years for disability discrimination or PERCIEVED disability discrimination. Won on bench and appeal,, I'm good at what I do..

 

You can't tell am employee 'with your condition I don't think you should do this'  once the ee asks for REASONABLE accommodation the emoyer is obligated to make the accommodation.

 

Go in front of a jury and say ' just letting him use his left hand is unreasonable'. See how that flies

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17 hours ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:

Maybe I’m slow or my reading comprehension is off, but do you mean a specific unit within the Sheriff’s Department that is not a law enforcement unit? Or is the whole Sheriff’s Department not law enforcement? 

 

The entire Sheriff's Department.  We are, basically, an 8-5 Monday to Friday business.  We act as bailiffs, process servers, conduct evictions, and enforce replevin/seizure orders.  The closest we come to "Law enforcement" actions are taking custody and transporting a person under court order for mental evaluations.  The county also has a police department that provides patrol, emergency response, etc. law enforcement duties.

 

8 hours ago, Sarge said:

Can a "qualification score"  (I hate that term) be attained with the shots fired by the right hand being counted as misses?

 

Yes.

 

The Sheriff has consulted an ADA attorney.  I believe that is an ongoing discussion.  He asked for my thoughts on the matter and I am interested in any insight that might be gained from the folks here.  Yeah, I know, ya get what ya pay for, but this is a group with wide experiences and I thought someone might have a unique and interesting perspective on the matter.

 

 FWIW, I've had a couple guns waved at me and a couple very unfriendly dogs sent in my direction at this job.  So far, no shots fired and no blood lost.  I can only hope it stays that way.

 

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Howdy,

How common is this 'only right' and 'only left' qualification?

If carry is optional it seems contradictory.

 

Similar to roll bars being optional but if one is installed it has to meet 

expensive complicated standards.

And a bar that didnt meet standard disqualified the car.

 

WE live in a complicated time.

Best

CR

 

 

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Is shooting one handed a State Qualification requirement or is it an agency standard?  I am only familiar with Georgia's Standard Qualification Course and it has never had the requirement of shooting one handed.  Our agency has it's own SQC, which was much harder than the State's SQC.  However, we still had to shoot the State SQC once a year.  As a retired LEO, I shoot the State SQC annually to keep my national carry permit.

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3 hours ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

 

 

Yes.

 

 

 

Well there's the answer to your question.  He can "qualify"  totally with the left hand.  He gets the misses with the right hand.  He just has to shoot a bit better with the left.  By the way, might be time to examine your shooting program.  I'd recommend doing away with "qualification" and going to pass/fail. Takes a bit of gas away from attorneys in a use of force case.     

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2 hours ago, Chili Ron said:

Howdy,

How common is this 'only right' and 'only left' qualification?

If carry is optional it seems contradictory.

 

Similar to roll bars being optional but if one is installed it has to meet 

expensive complicated standards.

And a bar that didnt meet standard disqualified the car.

 

WE live in a complicated time.

Best

CR

 

 

 

I've never shot a pistol qualification course that did not have at least some portion of it requiring the use of only one hand at a time.  Some strong hand only and some support hand only.  I have not shot a "civilian" CCW qualification course.

 

2 hours ago, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

Is shooting one handed a State Qualification requirement or is it an agency standard?  I am only familiar with Georgia's Standard Qualification Course and it has never had the requirement of shooting one handed.  Our agency has it's own SQC, which was much harder than the State's SQC.  However, we still had to shoot the State SQC once a year.  As a retired LEO, I shoot the State SQC annually to keep my national carry permit.

 

I don't know if there is a state requirement that a portion of the pistol qualification course must be fired with one hand.  It has been an agency standard with every police department and academy with which I am familiar.

 

I'm going to guess the GA SQC was used for civilian CCW courses.  In my limited experience with CCW courses of fire they have been less demanding than law enforcement firearms qualification courses., so, I guess that's not a surprise.

 

Are you also saying that while you were active LEO that your department's pistol qualification course did not have any component that required you to shoot using only one hand?  Frankly, that surprises me.

 

37 minutes ago, Sarge said:

Well there's the answer to your question.  He can "qualify"  totally with the left hand.  He gets the misses with the right hand.  He just has to shoot a bit better with the left.  By the way, might be time to examine your shooting program.  I'd recommend doing away with "qualification" and going to pass/fail. Takes a bit of gas away from attorneys in a use of force case.     

 

Having him take misses for the portion of the qualification that require the use of his right hand is certainly an option to be discussed.

 

Our qualification course IS pass/fail.  The scores are not recorded, but targets have to be checked and scored.  Otherwise what's the point?

 

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19 minutes ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

 

 

 

 

Having him take misses for the portion of the qualification that require the use of his right hand is certainly an option to be discussed.

 

Our qualification course IS pass/fail.  The scores are not recorded, but targets have to be checked and scored.  Otherwise what's the point?

 

We stopped calling ours "qualification" and referred to it as "Firearms Training."  The Training was Pass/Fail.  In addition to a standard course of fire, we always added  a training block that changed every time.  Stopped issuing badges and using numerical scores.  

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53 minutes ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

 

 

I'm going to guess the GA SQC was used for civilian CCW courses.  In my limited experience with CCW courses of fire they have been less demanding than law enforcement firearms qualification courses., so, I guess that's not a surprise.

 

Are you also saying that while you were active LEO that your department's pistol qualification course did not have any component that required you to shoot using only one hand?  Frankly, that surprises me.

 

We had lots of training that involved shooting one handed and reloading one handed but it was never part of the SQC.  Part of the SQC does involve shooting with the weak hand around a barricade but you can use the other hand for support.  I suspect that every state is a little different when it comes to LEO firearm qualifications.

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On 5/6/2022 at 3:55 PM, Black Angus McPherson said:

This is kind of long, so bear with me.

 

I work for a Sheriff's Department that works with/for the courts and is not a "law enforcement" organization.  Deputies are not required to be armed but are given the option provided they can pass a qualification course.  Part of the course of fire requires the deputy to fire their pistol using only their right hand and part requires the deputy to fire their pistol using only their left hand.

 

We currently have an applicant in the last stages of the hiring process that has a non-functioning right hand that is incapable of holding or firing a firearm.  (I don't know the specifics of the injury)  The lack of a functioning right hand does not prevent him from performing the duties of our department, so the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires we hire him if he meets all other qualifications.  FWIW he is a retired Police Officer.  He has indicated that he would like the option to be armed while on duty, as provided by policy.

 

The question posed concerns what liabilities the department accepts by amending the qualification course for this individual.  Likewise, what liabilities would attach if the department refuses to adapt the course of fire to his disability.  The required qualification score would remain the same.  The change would only to be allow him to use only his left hand for the entire course of fire.  Also, the change would only apply to this deputy and other deputies with a similar disability.  Medical documentation of the disability will be required.

 

My view is that as long as he passes the qualification course, and notation of the ADA adapted course of fire is made on the qualification form, he's good to go.  Additionally, I think a handicapped person would likely be more in need of an "equalizer" if attacked than an otherwise healthy person might be.  

 

I would appreciate the thoughts of other Firearms Instructors and Lawyers, especially any ADA Lawyers, on this matter.

 

Thanks,

 

Angus

 

Well. I worked for a large Sheriff's Office. Retired from there. One of my duties, among others was the firearms training unit. Yes. ADA requires "reasonable accommodation". We had a deputy who had a stroke. As part of AZPOST requirements, yearly firearms qualification is mandatory. He also had one hand that did not function well enough to fire a pistol however he was able to shoot the course with his functioning hand and wasn't the slowest nor was he the lowest score. Did pretty dang well. Yes. He had an office job which reflected his abilities and was a valuable member of the office. Over the years I had students who had prosthetic limbs who could pass the physical agility part of the academy like any other. I'm sure there are examples in other states specific to your question regarding firearms qualification.

 

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I'm not a lawyer but, I do some work as an ADA SME. 

  Not hiring the individual is a different matter from no accommodation for the firearm carry.

  First, I assume your department holds the "qualification" course and developed it. For what reason exists the part of the course in which the individual is required to fire with the offhand? 

  Just guessing here, but it could be to prove the individual was proficient enough with the offhand to show he/she wouldn't be a danger to bystanders in the event the use of his/her strong side was eliminated due to injury in an emergency situation. If this is the case. If that reason is documented already and part of a standard. I wouldn't consider it a "reasonable" accommodation to rewrite your requirements. 

If that is not the reason for that portion of the qualification and its ONLY to make scoring more difficult, or bragging rights, or some other reason it would to ME be a different matter.

 

Just my opinion and is in no way legal advice. 

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