David Yamane, of Gun Culture 2.0, tagged me in a Fb post last week. He wrote:
“I just spoke with a reporter about people leaving guns in bathrooms, including 2 recently at UT-Austin. I have to confess in my mind I was picturing guys. Interesting that in both of these cases the guns showed up in WOMEN’S restrooms. Which makes me wonder: WWJKS? What Would Kathy Jackson Say?”
Well, with a flattering intro like that, who could resist!? 🙂
First, here’s an excerpt from the news article [link] that tells the story Yamane mentioned:
A holstered pistol left Tuesday in a women’s bathroom at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business has been claimed by a student who has a license to carry a handgun, according to UT police.
Meanwhile, the police said Wednesday that they received another report of a pistol found unattended in a women’s bathroom, this time at the Commons Learning Center on UT’s Pickle Research Campus, about 9 miles north of the main campus.
This type of news report isn’t anything new, although it is a surprisingly rare event given the number of people with concealed handgun permits (more than 16 million, at last count, according to researcher John Lott). With that many people walking around with firearms, it would be shocking if we didn’t see mistakes like this happening from time to time.
Some people expressed surprise that both of these incidents involved women’s restrooms. That doesn’t surprise me. Although men are more likely to carry firearms in the first place (around 36% of concealed carry permit holders are women), biological differences mean that women who do carry concealed will need to deal with sitting on the toilet more often than men will. To be clear, dealing safely with bathroom issues is something everyone who carries a gun needs to learn how to do, but it’s also true that handling the gun more often means you have more opportunities to make a mistake.
All the same, responsible citizens like us should not be making this type of mistake. Fortunately, this one is relatively easy to avoid with just a little work.
How to avoid making this type of dangerous mistake? Here are a few tips that should help.
1 – The safest place for a loaded firearm is inside a secure holster attached to the user’s body. This remains true even when someone needs to use a toilet. So, leave the gun in the holster.
2 – Every holster should pass The Tip Test. This is important! One main job that a holster does is to hold the gun securely with the trigger protected. A “holster” that fails to hold the gun securely is not a holster — no matter what the label says, no matter who promotes it, and no matter how much it sells for. Every holster that attaches to belt or clothing should allow the user to tip it upside down and gently shake it, without the gun falling out. This assures that the trigger will remain protected and the gun will stay where it needs to stay while the user takes care of business, even if there’s a slight bobble along the way. 1 With a secure holster that passes the tip test, you can safely leave the gun in your holster.
3 – Keep your pants off the floor. It always surprises me when people talk about the gun “landing on the floor” when they use the facilities. That’s really icky, and sometimes it’s not very discreet, so don’t do that. Instead, put your palm over the grip of the firearm and then wrap your fingers around the bottom edge of your belt to maintain full control of the holstered gun as you lower your pants to just below your knees. That’s as far as you need them to go. Then you can double your belt back through a loop, or rebuckle your belt loosely, or just spread your knees wide so you can hold tension on your pants while you do your business. There’s no need to drop trou clear to the floor, and this lets you leave the gun in your holster.
4 – Practice at home. It’s a good idea to wear your firearm around the house, especially when first learning how to conceal carry, and this is one reason: it gives you a chance to practice things like this before you need to do them in public. You can easily practice this skill set at home so that when you are in public you can leave the gun in your holster.
5 – Leave the gun in the holster. Leave the gun in the holster. Leave the gun in the holster! If you really, truly have to get the gun off your belt for a moment, leave the gun securely inside its holster with the trigger protected. Leave the gun in your holster as you take the holster off your belt. You can put the holstered gun into your purse, or balance it on your underwear (ick), or tuck the whole thing into your bra, or for crying out loud take off one shoe and put the holstered gun into your doggone shoe if you have to… or in other words do whatever it takes to be absopositiveolutely sure you won’t leave the gun behind when you leave the bathroom. Don’t rely on your memory, because human memories suck. Put it somewhere completely un-avoidable, not just un-forgettable (because human forgetters work better than human memories). Do whatever adjusting you need to do while the trigger remains well-protected and the holstered gun is in a place where you cannot possibly under any circumstances leave it behind. When you are done, put the holstered gun back onto your belt.
Oh, did I mention? Leave the gun in the holster.
- Do I need to point out that there are reasonably safe ways to do a tip test and also not-so-safe, not-so-smart ways to do it? Never perform a tip test with a loaded gun or allow an ‘unloaded’ gun to point at yourself at any time during the test. ↩
Addenda for those who cannot keep their pants near the knees: You may need to let the pants go as far down as your ankles. This is not the same thing as letting them land in a puddle on the floor. You can use the same tricks to keep tension on them to keep them from going all the way to the floor, and (bonus!) many people find that they can tip the holstered gun, still on the belt, into the area around the ankles where it will be concealed by the piled-up pants leg. So to sum up — keep the gun in the holster. 😉
3 – Keep your pants off the floor. etc.
Or students can go Fish.
Detective Phil Fish (Abe Vigoda) was the oldest member of Barney Miller’s detective squad, and spent a good bit of time in the restroom. He was also the only one that wore a shoulder holster.
As I remember college, for students it involved a lot of time in school desks and lecture-hall seating, both of which feature writing arms for note-taking, and a tendency to snag you getting in and out.
Faculty and staff licensees probably have more flexibility.