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!