Bathroom Blunders


With the number of first-time permit holders growing dramatically in my home state of Minnesota, the number of people who have left guns in places like restaurant booths, store changing rooms, and other such public venues continues to rise. Most of us simply can’t believe anyone would forget something as important as a GUN. But parents have left their infant children in their vehicles, some of whom actually died. People do stupid things.

One recent problem is permit holders leaving their guns in public bathrooms. This has occurred in a range of businesses, from car dealers, to restaurants, public libraries, movie theaters, etc. Most of these incidents were merely embarrassing, others almost humorous. Particularly disturbing is that almost half of these people admitted they were talking on their cellphones or texting…in the toilet! Being preoccupied, they simply walked out, leaving their guns behind.

Unfortunately, some such incidents can create the potential for real disaster.

Just such an incident occurred when a young man was leaving one of those “healthy” food stores in suburban Minneapolis, carrying a bag of groceries. Deciding to use the bathroom before leaving, he went into a stall, closed the door, and set his grocery bag on the floor. He intentionally picked the last stall on the end, so one wall would be solid from floor to ceiling. Since he was carrying a full-size Springfield Armory XD-45, he removed it from his holster and set it on the floor next to his right foot, close to the wall, and thus away from potentially prying eyes.

But he then removed his two extra magazines and set them down next to his left foot, on the side with an opening between the stalls. Unfortunately for him, a young clerk was in the stall next to him, and hearing all the commotion, the rustling of the bag, the clunk of the magazines hitting the floor, his curiosity got the best of him, and he peeked under the wall opening, just enough to see the two magazines. No “Larry Craig” jokes, please.

To make a long story short, when the permit holder walked out of the bathroom, he was looking down the barrel of an M-4, a shotgun, and two handguns. Now, after taking him outside and learning that he had a permit, police apologized and all ended well. But imagine if the young man had tripped, or otherwise reacted; just one nervous cop could have turned this situation into a disaster.

NEVER leave a gun on the toilet tank—as soon as you turn your back, it ceases to exist. NEVER leave a gun on the toilet paper dispenser—they can be very shaky and unstable, causing the gun to fall…and, Murphy’s Law, it will fall into the stall next to you, where an off-duty cop will be sitting. And for God’s sake, never (as one incomparable idiot did) hang the gun ON THE COAT HOOK BY THE TRIGGER GUARD! When he reached for the gun, the trigger caught on the coat hook and the gun fired, virtually destroying his left hand permanently.

My routine is to take an end stall, with at least one floor-to-ceiling wall. I place my gun on my shoe, the one closest to the full-length wall. There’s no way I’m leaving without that gun. But however you handle it, establish a “bathroom routine” that works for you. Then follow it, every time. And please, stay off the phone!

53 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. between your knees in the crotch of your underpants, can’t walk away

  2. The only time I have ever taken my gun off in the bathroom is when I was at home, and I did forget and leave it in there once. Anytime I’m in a public restroom, I leave it attached at the belt and in the holster. I never, ever take my gun off when I’m in a public bathroom.

    My holster has a bit of positive retention, so the gun doesn’t fall out on its own. And when my pants go down, the gun is still vertical to the ground, barrel pointed to the ground. 100% of the time, the bottom of the holster is resting on the floor, with my full sized Glock 22 still in it.

    1. Agreed…that’s what I do too. Why not leave it in the holster on the belt?

  3. Yep, walked out if the bathroom once and realized my blunder, 180’d and retrieved it. That one time engrained in my memory will hopefully ensure I never do it again. I usually use the top flat surface of the paper dispenser, but when there is no flat surface I usually put it in my pants. Even though I use a locking holster I rarely leave it in simply because trying to pull my pants up with a pistol holstered is difficult at best.

  4. When I use a men’s room stall,I leave my S & W Snubbie right where I always carry it: in it’s pocket holster in my front right pants pocket. Same as how my wallet stays in my front left pocket.

  5. Use an ankle holster and you won’t need to take it off when using the toilet.

  6. Just drop your pants 6″ pull your underwear waist band up and over the gun, then lower the whole thing as one. The firearm is covered and still in the holster. Reverse on the way out. You won’t leave it and you won’t have an accidental discharge.

  7. With all the pressure for target to eliminate guns it’s possible that the gun left behind in the toy department was intentional by the anti-gun fanatics. Why would anyone have removed their gun from concealment and left it in such a dangerous and obvious place. I cannot think of another way to get more notice from the media and pressure companies to ban all carrying. The demonstrations against Target in Dallas Texas failed to mention that open carry is already banned and only permitted concealed carry is allowed in Target stores. The demonstrations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas area to promote open carry are only having the worst possible effects for concealed carry. Think and act smart. There are too many people trying to stop concealed carry and self protection. Think about everything you do when carring.


      Amen your on target

    2. Did you see the pics of the ‘person of interest’ surrounding this? I think it was a bad guy that ‘ditched’ the gun because it was too ‘hot’.

  8. Get a holster that holds your gun even if upside down. Then you don’t have to take it off!!

  9. I rarely unholster when using restrooms, especially when toting an LCP inside the waistband. Even when carrying my XDS 9mm in an AlienGear holster, I maneuver the weight of my rig on top of my thigh when seated. At my age, just remembering to pull up my pants is enough to keep track of!

  10. You city slickers amaze me at every turn! I’ve went behind a bush wearing my blackhawk 6 1/2″ barreled revolver. I took the gunbelt off and slung it over my shoulder. when i finished i walked from behind the bush and strapped it back on. I’ve done this many times, and not even a jackrabbit found me leaving my gun in the outhouse. What are you people thinking when you take your gun off just to use the bathroom?

  11. I think the real problem is not where to put you gun while you are “on” the toilet. Your gun will stay in your holster and your holster will stay at your belt. The problem is how to get your pants up again with your gun, the holster and extra ammo. Using shoulder holsters with full size guns is not a bad idea – even when your are in the bathroom.

    BTW, this is not a problem of first time permit holders. Police officers all around the world are leaving their guns in more or less public bathrooms.

  12. I carry my EDC S&W Shield IWB and my spare mag in an Uncle Mikes pocket holster. When nature calls I move the mag loose in my pocket and put the Shield in my pocket holster. The Shield is too big to carry that way but it gives it a clean place to hide while business is being conducted. When all done move Shield back to IWB, give mag a look for lint and puff of air if necessary, replace in pocket holster, and go about my day citizen. No muss, no fuss.

  13. I place my weapon in my underwear so I have to pick it up.

  14. Another method that works is leave your gun in the holster, lower your pants to the knees and rebuckle.

  15. Mr. Caile makes a good point: establish a routine. The problem arises when using an unfamiliar rest room. If your job or your lifestyle requires you to use random restrooms frequently, it might be worthwhile to consider using a carry method that would mitigate or obviate (notice how I avoided the word “eliminate”) the need to relieve the holster of its contents while one relieves the colon and bladder of their contents. There are more choices than ever now: ankle holsters, shoulder holsters, belly bands, “tactical” undershirts, and pocket holsters all have their drawbacks (pun intended), but all reduce the need to unholster one’s sidearm. And I’ve never understood the need use one’s phone while using the restroom; it’s just plain rude, and that’s how so many smart phones end up in the toilet.

  16. It’s the Bloomberg activists leaving guns places so they have an excuse! So don’t be fooled by these articles! Responsible carriers aren’t irresponsible!

  17. I guess I’m a little confused. I carry a full-size XDm in an IWB holster and have NEVER found it necessary to remove the firearm from the holster in the restroom, whether I’m standing or sitting. What am I missing here?

  18. I have to say… I’m glad I am not the only one! I had been carried everyday for 3+ plus years and had always erred on the side of caution. I put my gun(still in the holster) on the tank, as I had done many times… and forgot it. It was some time later when I had this sickening thought and, long story short.. I got some time off.
    My boss did ask, “how does someone forget a gun?” I told him same way you leave your kid at the store or your wallet on a gas pump, your so comfortable with it you don’t think about it.

  19. I’m an orthopaedic surgeon and we had a patient place his pistol on the toilet paper dispenser. When he pulled the paper his pistol hit the ground and boom. The weapon discharged a round through his femur.

  20. no matter what you do there will always be so crazy person or an idiot that will do something wrong. of course criminals are opportunists. that is why we carry hoping never to have to protect our self or someone else. since 1990 i have carried, had to use many bathrooms and never left my protection. i use an iwb holster at 1 to 2. since i believe the most dangerous time with your gun is reholstering, i try to never take it out of the holster while i am out. i never take it off my pants. when dropping my trow i hold on to the holster and turn it in to my underwear, so the handle is sitting in my underwear and the barrel is pointing at the door at the bottom or floor. when standing up on hand grabs the holster until you get it up, then do your pants up. i do not carry at 4 to 5 but i a think it would work the same way except the barrel would be point behind you. when i had a fanny pack i would hang it on the door. i always worried someone could reach over the door and grab it so it was hard to relax. perfection will never be reached we just try to do the best we can. as far as the gun in the ile of the toy section, i believe it was a plant to further gun control, just like fast and furious.

  21. The fact he set his groceries on a public toilet floor disturbs me way more than what he did with his gun. To avoid taking out your magazines, just add velcro to the top of your magazine pocket. It keeps it closed and leaves it within easy access.

  22. Very funny. I just had a bad dream about this just two nights ago. But it was just a bad dream. I did when I first started to carry undid my jeans and it slipped out onto the floor slid over to the next stall. I was shocked my heart was pounding I grabbed it up so fast No one saw nothing. Wow!!! But that was the last time anything like that would ever happen and it was the last time. With me it only takes once to have a bad thing happen it will never happen again. Now I’m so very careful in the bathroom with everything! I got a good laugh after it but not funny at the time. Corvette LYN

  23. I keep mine in the holster attached to my pants. Why would it need to come out and be put anywhere?

  24. All this time I was just leaving my pistol in its holster.

  25. Defended our troops? How about you actually serve? I do and i oppose this administration and hate how some people have twisted their opinions/views of both sides….if you think you are protecting us…( those of us that have actually served or are currently doing so) then grow up and do something other than start a internet war.

  26. as gun carryers we have responsibity to make it safe for you and me, if you leave your gun in a bathroom stall that just leave the door open for all those antigunners to say the we cannot control our firearms, as for me mine never leaves the hoster inside of my pants when i have to lower them i fold it into and nobody knows it there but me.

  27. Put it in your pants/underwear (currently around your ankles). If you forget about it and pull them up, the gun will smack you in the sensitive regions to remind you!

  28. How about tuck it into your sock, with the safety on, on the inside of either leg? You won’t forget its there, readily available, and best of all concealed ON YOU.

  29. I had a friend that carried concealed for 20 years. He took care of the floors (buffed them, stripped them, waxed them) at the Quick Mart’s in town and he worked grave. One night he had to take a shit and set the gun on top of the toilet. Finished up and went back out to finish the floors. Then night clerk then went in the bathroom and when he came out he asked him if that was his gun in there. My friend could not believe he did it. He just had so much on his mind that night that he totally forgot. I’m betting he would’ve remembered when he got back in his truck cause he wouldn’t have felt his .45 dig in his kidney. Point is, this can happen to anyone when you have too much on your mind.
    That’s why I treat my gun like my keys, phone, sunglasses and wallet. I check for each one before I leave anywhere.

    1. yes, some people like you and me always check and double-check to see if wallet is in front pocket, keys in other front pocket, I’m trying to remember to check for phone, I forget that once in awhile, like if it’s charging or something. And if not in my pocket, they all have a specific location, always. But I know that MOST people have no routine like that. They toss their keys wherever as soon as they are in the house. Many take their wallet out and throw it in glove compartment or center console in their car, and forget it until they need it. Throw it anywhere when in the house. These types can easily get locked out or drive somewhere without ID. I don’t understand their thinking.
      So on topic, how do experienced carriers recommend, if using a Remora holster? [no clips, just surface cling type holster? I carry in small of back and must remove it before unbuckling belt.

  30. I’m with Jim McCoy. Am I the only guy who uses a snap down holster? My S&W 6906 doesn’t fall out of my holster. I just double my belt around to secure the end and flip my weapon inside my pants so it isn’t laying upside down on the floor. No phones in the head please. Only two things you need to be in there for, texting isn’t one of them.

  31. While working for TSA between 2001 to 2003 we had at least a dozen cases where US Air Marshalls left weapons on planes in hotel rooms, airport bathrooms, or just falling out as they board or de-boarded planes. It was a fairly common occurrance.

  32. I sit it inside my boxers, so before I pull up my drawers I have to secure it.

  33. Ymmit sebrof you can have upside down flag on a boat or land. Forts back in the old days use to do it to let people know outside the fort to get help. Might want to go read a history book again

  34. Pull pants down part way. Unholster and place the item into your underwear. Lower pants rest of the way. It is unable to be seen even if a person is purposefully looking under the stall. You can’t leave without it, if you forget it’s sitting in your underwear you will remember when you look down to pull your pants back up.

  35. Put it in your front pants pocket. Any other place will be risky.

  36. another question for experienced carriers: do you carry while at home? I carry if I’m wearing pants or shorts that use a belt, but if I’m just wearing sweat pants or sweat shorts, the elastic band is not strong enough to hold up carrying. What do you do in these cases? Do you lay your weapon on a nearby table? Not possible if kids are around.

  37. Use an UnderTech shirt and the gun will never leave your body, no matter which stall you’re in. It has extra pockets for the extra mags too, so those won’t be sitting on the floor for someone to notice.

  38. toddlerslave

    I like pocket carry 38 special airweight. Tend to forget its there but does not fall out. Or try a retention holster maybe?

  39. Mine never leaves its holster and the holster is never not attached to my belt.


  41. Maybe it’s just me but my gun stays in the holster on my belt where it freaking belongs. Get a good holster with decent retention. I use a Galco King Tuk with a Glock 26. It stays put even if it flips upside down. A little pressure on calves keeps it off the floor.

  42. I carry a full size Sig in .40. I usually just take the holster and put it down a pant leg when I doing my thing. Can’t accidentally leave without it and it’s not visible to the other stalls.

  43. The guy in the store should have placed the pistol between his legs in the crotch of his pants.. no forgetting it there… or as a minimum in the shopping bag… but on the floor of a public restroom.. nasty nasty nasty..

    I always flip the firearm into my pants as I slide them down in those circumstances.. not because it will fall out of the holster, but because I don’t want it banging on the dirty bathroom floor.

    When I used a Sicky holster I would just place the rig into the crotch of my lowered pants.

    Personally… placing a firearm off body in an area that does not belong to you is a recipe for disaster.. JMHO

  44. I carry in Galco shoulder holster so no problem it stays on my body

  45. take out the magazine place it in your left pants pocket put your weapon in your right pocket

    Paul Jackson

  46. Get a holster that stays with you. I have a IWB scorpion for my Glock and it stays where I put it, pants up or down. Be smart I’m a retired Marine and concur with JE weapon never leaves your body. Semper Fi!!!

  47. I have heard about men and what to do when a stall doing business! What about all the ladies who now carry? Other then in a purse or fanny pack, what do they do when wearing slacks and are carrying inside slacks? Thanks

  48. I’m a little late to the party so I doubt anyone will read this, but I really appreciated this article. This is one of the things I was trying to figure out how to solve before I carried.
    This article validates for me that I wasn’t over thinking things ;-)
    I figured I would “practice” in-home until I had a routine down, so I wouldn’t drop it, forget it, set it out in the open or make some silly mistake.
    I will also add though, I live in MN too and I haven’t heard of anyone leaving their gun in a bathroom, maybe I don’t venture to your part of town?

  49. Never unholster a gun unless you have a legitimate reason to destroy a target (a bad guy is attacking you and you have a reasonable fear for your life). You can leave it holstered, pull your pants down, and do the deed. Seriously. Figure it out. It’s not that difficult. You should be using a holster with sufficient tension that you can do this; it is simply part of your belt. Do you remove your belt every time you poop?

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