One of our recent articles was about how to approach using a public restroom if you have a gun strapped to your belt. That article, “How Do You Go to the Bathroom When You Carry a Gun?”, elicited a lot of comments on Facebook. Most of the people who commented explained how they actually did this, like one guy who said he uses an IWB and just doesn’t unzip completely so that the holster stays on his calf.
A couple of people though, commented that they had actually left their gun in a public bathroom because they took it out of the holster while they were going. One person said they had found a loaded gun that had been left in a bathroom by a security personnel. I talked about the response that article got with a friend of mine who carries almost daily and he told me that he too had accidentally left his gun in a bathroom. He said he remembered and went back and only about 5 minutes had passed and luckily it was still there. But it got me thinking, what do you do if you find a gun?
Your first thought might be “lucky day!” After all, guns are expensive. But seriously. The first rule to always remember is that “all guns are loaded.” Approach the gun as if it is a bomb about to explode. This may be an overstatement to most of you out there who know how to handle guns, but for people who don’t know how to handle guns, this is the number one rule. What I mean by this is don’t handle the gun carelessly or assume it isn’t loaded. I’m assuming that this article will be read by people who don’t know guns as well as you do, so this is an over-precaution.
Keep it pointed in a safe direction and keep your finger off the trigger when you pick it up. If the gun you found is in a public place like a public bathroom in a mall, you will need to get it out of there. Take responsibility for it. Pick it up and hold it carefully however you can. If you have a shopping bag with you, you could put it in there for safe transport. If you have something like a purse with you that has other loose items in it, I don’t recommend transporting it that way because something could get stuck on the trigger and accidentally pull it. Wrap it in a sweater or jacket and place it in another bag or purse if that’s the best option you have. Personally, if I found any gun I’d handle it as little as possible because I wouldn’t want my fingerprints mixed in with other people’s in case the gun had been used in a crime.
If you are knowledgeable about guns you might examine it and see if it is loaded. If it is, you might consider unloading it yourself so you don’t have to risk transporting a loaded gun. If you do transport it, take it to the nearest security official.
If you’re in a place where there are not a lot of other people around and it’s fine for the gun to sit where it is, you might just call the police and not even touch the gun at all. You should stay in the area and make sure no one else touches it if you can. If you find a gun someplace like in a field, it might be best to not touch the gun as you might ruin some important evidence if the gun had previously been used in a crime. If you have your cell phone on you, take a photo of where you found it and call the police.
I think the way that finding a gun is handled depends a lot on the situation and where it is. Let’s say you’re a property manager and you find one in an apartment that someone vacated. I’d leave it where it is and call the cops.
The top things to remember are: Get it out of there safely if you can. Notify a security professional or police. Leave it if you can’t or don’t want to touch it but if you choose this option make sure you stay in that spot and keep others away until help arrives. You can’t legally keep a found gun unless perhaps if it’s a historic item that you stumble across in an attic or something like that. If it doesn’t have a serial number on it then theoretically you can keep it but personally I’d rather not get mixed up in that.