“Watch these professionals.” – John Farnam
From a student:
I recently brought a family member to the emergency room [All is now fine] and while waiting for test results I visited the hospitals public bathroom, a single person at a time type. Upon entry, I was confronted with a Glock 22 [.40 S&W] resting on the toilet tank. I immediately unloaded it, using the toilet itself as a “safe direction”, and then set it back on the tank, minus magazine and ammunition.
I noticed on the way to the washroom that the security guard station was next to it, so, when exiting I left the pistol on the toilet and took 4 steps over to the guard desk all while keeping an eye out for anyone else attempting to enter the bathroom. (I wasn’t excited about toting, as you say, an “Orphaned firearm” around in a hospital. Had it not been obvious to me who it belonged to, I probably would have notified staff by phone and stood guard at the door till relieved.)
When I approached the kiosk, a single “security guard” was seated with his feet up, apparently enjoying the quiet night shift, and was none too happy about my interruption of his peace.
He greeted me with a terse, “Yeah, wadda ya want?” To which I replied, “Has anyone reported a missing Glock 22 lately? Because there’s one in the bathroom.”
With those words he immediately reached down to feel his presently empty holster, and a panic set in.
He sprung from his chair while I set the magazine and round from the chamber on his desk and said, “It’s unloaded.”
He said nothing as he snatched it up the munitions and ran towards the bathroom.
I went back to the ER to check on my family member, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Something tells me this wasn’t the first time he’d done that.
This is now the 4th discovery in my career of an orphaned pistol in a bathroom by my students or Instructors. None of the 4 events were reported on the news or to law enforcement.
Usually, such occurrences only result in great embarrassment to the owner. However, every now-and-then the firearm ends up in the hands of a child, or criminal. The first commonly produces an Unintentional Discharge (UD) with an accompanying injury or death. The latter often results in the same, and/or an increase in aggravated felonies.
As serious practitioners of our Art it is our DUTY to make sure our firearms do not end up in unauthorized hands! We own safes and lock boxes, and we don’t leave guns laying around for the taking!
As human beings who carry guns daily, we will also, no matter how efficiently we plan our days, eventually find ourselves having to use a public restroom. It is incumbent upon us to make sure we exit the bathroom with at least the same arms and ammunition we entered it with.
The way to do so is with a Checklist!
Pilots review a pre-flight checklist before they fire the engines on any aircraft they command. Every item on the list is checked, re-checked, and checked off. They then have a secondary pre-takeoff checklist once the aircraft is idling.
We go through our Pre-Carry Checklist, and then our Pre-Exit Checklist.
Our Pre-Carry Checklist involves inspection of holsters and spare magazines, as well as a Load/Chamber Check/Systems Check of our carry pistols.
Our Pre-Exit Checklist involves the list of all the items we don’t leave the house without. Wallet/Purse, blades, OC Spray, cell phones (charged), Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK), and GUN(s), etc…
The Pre-Exit Checklist must be implemented every time we separate ourselves from our pistols. Whether it be bathroom, gym, or doctor’s office – we run down the checklist when our clothes are being changed or put back in place.
We do this no matter what! Kids waiting in the car, angry person knocking on the door, late for an appointment? None of that matters – we remain in Checklist mode until all the boxes are checked!
Your Pre-exit Checklist should not take more than 10 to 20 seconds once you get used to the habit, so we’re not talking about adding 10-minutes onto every trip to the bathroom. But, it must be a conscious effort made every single time we separate ourselves from any of our gear.
Final note: I don’t recommended un-holstering of guns unless needed for immediate self-defense. If one must remove a gun from their belt for whatever reason, I suggest removing it AND its holster as a single unit, thus always keeping the trigger guard covered. Needlessly un-holstering guns only increases our chances of a UD. And, as our security guard discovered, it also makes it easier to walk away from one’s pistol as everything on the belt seems to be in place.
Yes, the shame of being informed your pistol was left behind is quite heavy. The guilt of a child’s death because of it is more than any of us could bear.
That is not a statistic we want any part of!
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” – Aeristotle