Tales from the Thunder Chamber: The Purloined Pistol
So in a “what’s happening” in a local Facebook group, a wife posted a warning for a perpetrator to turn themselves in. She aired out her husband’s stinky situation. The husband, we will call Mr. S, apparently stopped to drop off a load at the local gas station. Mr. S took off his firearm and set it next to the sink while he went about his business. After Mr. S was finished, he left and forgot his pistol in the bathroom. Someone came in and took Mr. S’s pistol.
These are the posts that Facebook was made for…but I don’t think that Mrs. S expected the feedback received. Now the first thing I got out of the situation was Mr. S must not have washed his hands. Mr. S finished his business, skipped the sink, and went about his merry way. The second thing I took away is that no one felt sorry about the situation and, to the shock of Mrs. S, expected Mr. S to be more responsible.
As professional CCW carriers I would hope that none of us are ever “that guy” but, unfortunately, it happens more often than you think. A simple Google search of “gun left in bathroom” provides about 28,600,000 results…Wow!
I spoke with a couple law enforcement professional friends. According to them, in the State of Alabama (your state may be different) there is no state law making it illegal to accidentally lose a firearm in a non restricted location. Somewhere like a school or courthouse would be different. Unfortunately, there is no law in Alabama against being a moron.
Now there is a “Catch all” statute, 13A-6-24: “a person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if he/she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.” With reckless endangerment you could not even mean to intend harm to anyone, but just CREATE the situation where someone can get hurt. Is this far-fetched? No. What if a child had found the pistol or maybe even a convicted felon? You’re responsible for that gun so it’s on you if a crime is committed because of your negligence!
Hey, as the book says, everyone poops. However, as CCW carriers we have to take extra precautions. Take the advice I got from my law enforcement friends. I was told a good LEO always knows the areas that are LEO friendly. You quickly learn where the best food and restrooms are. You look for lockable doors or stalls with hangers INSIDE the stall where you can hang your equipment belt. But what about those emergency situations or when you are traveling in a strange area? Here’s some simple things you can do to not “that guy.”
My go to procedure is: remove my holster and then set it in my pants, and then maybe cover it with TP. This keeps it out of sight and hidden from others outside of the stall. There is no way you can leave it behind.
Maybe even set it with your keys and phone so that it is harder to forget. If you can’t stand to be without your phone while you do your business, you can always set an alarm reminder…Whatever it takes. (Ding Ding Ding Alert: don’t forget Roscoe while you drop the kids off at the pool.)
But what if I have an “accident”?
First thing is to retrace your steps and see if you can recover you missing piece. Hopefully your story ends here and you learn a valuable life lesson. If not, next thing to do is call the local police department immediately! This is not something you can just keep to yourself and hope it goes away. In Alabama a missing or lost gun is not considered stolen. The police will file an Incident and Offense report. The I.O. report is going to be the only thing that will protect you if that lost firearm is used later in a crime or if it is found. This is the documentation that you are saying that at that time you no longer had position of said firearm.
You will need the make, model, caliber and serial number of the firearm. Hopefully since you are a “responsible” firearms owner you know your serial numbers. If you don’t, the store that sold it to you may be able to find that information in their computer inventory. (A top tip since most everyone has a phone with them, take pictures of your receipts and save them to the cloud. That way you have all the necessary info about your gun to give to the appropriate authorities. Once you are able to provide law enforcement with the relevant information the police will enter the lost firearm into the NCIC database.
Let’s now say you are on the flip side, and you happen to stumble upon a random firearm. I asked some of my law enforcement friends what advice they had for the readers. The number one advice is to not touch the firearm if possible. They understand if it is an emergency like a child is about to pick it up or it about to be destroyed or run over. The reason behind not picking up the firearm is that now your DNA and/ or fingerprints are on the weapon. It could have been used in a crime and was ditched. There could be crucial evidence that can be preserved by not touching the firearm. Do the right thing and wait for police.
Some of you might say “finders keepers,” but that is not how things really work. You just can’t take others’ property even if they were not responsible. Depending on your state laws though you can go through a due process to lay claim. If no one claims the property, it can be yours legally after a certain amount of time has passed.
As a firearms instructor one of the first things I teach my students is that you need to have a deep and critical conversation with yourself and make the decision that you want to take on the responsibility of owning, carrying and potentially using a firearm. That responsibility is a weight on the shoulders of all 2A members and it is not for everyone. Consider this, if you’re not responsible enough to take these steps, do you really need to carry a firearm? That is for you and you alone to answer. You are going to have to be the one who has to live with the legal and moral consequences if a child finds your unsecured firearm or someone commits a crime with your piece.
Living with firearms means a change in your lifestyle. Everyday I go through the mental check list. Am I properly dressed with clean underwear? Check. Do I have my phone, keys, wallet, glasses, pistol? Check. Do I have a happy go lucky outlook for my day? I sure do!
James the “XDMAN” Mr UnPewfessional
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February 15, 2023 at 10:23 am
Practice this at home, seeing what works and what doesn’t. I personally leave it attached to my belt and tuck it toward the center of my pants as I sit down. I do it in a manner that semi covers it up so others can’t easily see it. Then I grip it and the pants as I pull them back up,adjust the fit, and exit the stall. I have practiced this at least a dozen times at home to establish what works and what problems can arise.
February 15, 2023 at 10:33 am
Our office restroom stall walls do not go to the floor, leaving it exposed and I didn’t want everyone knowing I carry.
I found that cutting a hole 1/2-inch from belt end let me re-buckle the extended belt near my knees keeping the holstered gun ON my belt and out of sight ~~ it also keeps your pants up off the floor in grungy bathrooms.
The “Sheriff” on NRA’s email articles recently described this procedure as well.
February 15, 2023 at 5:08 pm
Perhaps Mike Byrd can be hired to teach a course on properly retaining positive control of a person’s weapon. Val Demings can be his assistant.
February 15, 2023 at 5:59 pm
If you use a holster such as a Smart Carry, you simply slide the holster up your torso, since it has its own belt, while you do your business.
February 16, 2023 at 1:21 pm
February 16, 2023 at 2:12 pm