Guns placed in this position, especially toward people, violates cardinal gun safety rules.
1) ALL guns are always loaded
2) NEVER let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy
3) Keep your finger OFF the trigger until your sights are on the target
4) ALWAYS be sure of your target (and what is beyond it)
I called NYPD yesterday to ask a few questions about the press conference. The first time around a Lieutenant answered the phone and our conversation was brief. I told him I was a reporter and simply asked him why the confiscated guns were pointed out at the audience (instead of placed sideways).
"They're not loaded," he said. "Why are you focusing on the negative?"
When I continued to ask him if it was standard procedure for NYPD to violate basic gun safety rules, the Lieutenant said "it's a bit ridiculous" I was asking, that my line of questioning was "strange" and that he "wasn't going to get into procedure." After that, he promptly hung up before I could catch his name again.
I called back, this time a man named Officer Duffy was willing to talk to me. He noticed that I was calling from a Virginia phone number (our offices are just outside of Washington D.C.) and quickly tried to discredit my line of questioning after I asked him if it was standard practice to leave firearms with the bolts closed and safeties off.
“From your vantage point in Virginia how did you know the safeties were off?” Duffy asked me. “How can you make that assertion?”
I respectfully told him I had see numerous photos showing exactly what I described and we proceeded with the conversation. He confirmed the tables for the press conference were set up by NYPD police officers and that the firearms were "deemed safe" before being placed with the muzzles toward the audience.
“They’ve been rendered safe by our members of the service," Duffy said. “Is it your assertion that NYPD and that those officers that handle firearms don’t know what they’re doing?”
When I followed up with a question about NYPD's standard gun safety practices, Duffy would not elaborate.
“I’m not at all at liberty to get into how we handle firearms," he said.
UPDATE: Here's a few follow-up questions. Why don't these guns have evidence tags on them? And why aren't they in marked evidence bags?