A few days back, a few fellow pro-rights activists and I were having a discussion as to the “resting state” of various firearms, and how that plays into making the firearm arguably more or less safe, especially when holstering and unholstering it. After establishing that the Glock Safe Action system keeps the firing pin under partial tension at all times (at least while there is one in the tube), I admitted to not being sure if that diminished force would be sufficient to cause a cartridge primer to actuate, and, thankfully, Tam stepped in with the answer:
Not that anybody’s going to read this, but at rest, the Glock’s striker does not have sufficient energy to detonate a primer.
Even if everything holding the striker back were to suddenly vanish in a puff of logic, the gun would not fire.
On the other hand, if the sear nose were to snap on your cocked 1911, it would try to go full auto in your holster. Think about that the next time you let some ignorant gun plumber take a whetstone to your cheap-ass MIM sear.
Glocks and their clones (including my Walther PPS) are unlike pretty much every other firearm out there, in that they are neither double-action nor single-action – they act like they are double action, but, technically speaking, the magical wizardry going on inside the frame and slide is different. Coincidentally, this makes them arguably safer, at a resting state, than a fully-cocked firearm, since more mechanical failures would be necessary to cause the firing pin to accidentally slam forward, and even if it did, it would have insufficient force to fire a round. I suppose an even safer resting-state firearm would be a modern, uncocked double-action revolver complete with a firing pin block or transfer bar – no mechanical failure would cause a round to be fired, and only a drop directly on the hammer (assuming mechanical failure in addition to the drop) could create that possibility.
In the specific case of the gentleman perforating his aftmost portions, and his car, I have no doubt that anyone who permits their equipment to reach that level of disrepair would eventually have some degree of unfortunate incident – things break down, and they need maintenance, and if you do not take care of them, they will break. In this particular case, the negligent discharge was significantly less disastrous than it could have been, but it should stand as a stark reminder to all of us to be aware of how our firearms operate, their condition, and the condition of our gear.