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So You Found a Gun in a Public Restroom – – Now What?

Gone to drop trou and found a gun in a public lavatory? Here are the ins and out of safely addressing the situation.

Finding a firearm in a public restoom is unfortunately not as uncommon as you may think and with CCW increasing across the board, it's something you may come across yourself.
Someone at an elementry found a gun in one of the school's bathrooms.

[Photo credit: ABC7 New York]

The problem starts when someone has to drop trou outside their home. The vast majority of on-person pistols ride in holsters that attach to a pants belt, regardless if it's designed for inside- or outside-the-waistband. Many of these holsters don't have positive retention, especially the soft-sided IWB variety, and rely on the pressure between your belt and your body to keep it in place. Sometimes this means a pistol flops when pants come off.

Consequently, some people remove their guns (with or without the holster) while they do their business to prevent it from falling onto the hard tile floor. So they take that pistol and place it on a toilet tank, commercial toilet paper holder, or even hang it on the hook on the back of the stall door. And forget about it. This is especially common with new or infrequent carriers. This article covers the mechanics of what you should do when carrying in public restrooms.
A gun was left hanging.

[Photo credit: NBC4 Columbus]

We know that some will be surprised one could be so mindless as to forget a Stacatto in a stall, but people leave their children accidentally in the back of cars all the time.

If you find a gun in a public bathroom, let's talk about what to do.


The type of restroom you're in (business, public park, school etc) and the number of people present may dictate your next moves but they are functionally the same.
Abandoned gun on a baby-changing station.

[Photo credit: Local12 Cincinnati]


You may not like it, but now it's your responsibility to ensure no one else can come across it until it is secured or some other responsible party takes over. Not passing the buck is part of the social contract of being a responsible gun owner. The person who left it there may be charged with reckless endangerment and you don't want to add your name to that list, or worse: have some kid find it.

First, take a picture to show off to your friends so there's documentation of exactly what you found, where it's located, and when you found it.
Lost pistol on a toiletpaper dispenser.

[Photo credit: Reddit]

Resist the temptation to render it clear or even touch it, at least at this point, even if you are confident in doing so. While it's unlikely to be a criminal weapon unless you saw Peter Clemenza rushing out just prior, unknown weapons may have unknown modifications or issues–and if you slip and drop a non-drop-safe pistol in the process you may compound your problems.

Also worth mentioning that stolen guns have been found in bathrooms before.


In an empty store, like it's just you and the employees and there's no risk of someone else entering the restroom: just tell one of the employees.

In a busy restroom inside a school or business, ask someone else in the bathroom to fetch someone for you, but you don't have to tell this stranger exactly why (no need to cause a panic) but you should convey a sense of urgency.

If you have your cellphone on you and you have service, you can also call them directly. In both of these instances a manager may get a ‘fun' phone call followed by the police, but it effectively becomes the store's responsibility at that point.

If you are someplace like an uncrowded public park, simply call the non-emergency police line. Tell them who you are, where you are, and what you found. And wait. You can perform this course of action in any of these circumstances, but if you're in a business it's probably best to let them know what's happening before police arrive.

If you're in a crowded area where you aren't confident you can maintain control and custody, this is one of the only times we may consider carefully moving the pistol if it's in a holster or otherwise rendering it safe. From there you immediately tell someone responsible for the area, explain the situation, or once again call the non-emergency police line yourself.


Though it may be terribly time consuming and inconvenient, you should wait for authorities so you can give your statement.


Yes, we know there will be some “free gun!” responses from people, but this is a dumb idea on many levels. Getting caught with a stolen gun in your possession will always always end with you in bracelets, whether the charges ultimately stick or not.

The only responsible answer is to take control, report it, and stand guard until so no one else comes across it until authorities arrive.

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5 responses to “So You Found a Gun in a Public Restroom – – Now What?”

  1. Billy says:

    Do the business you went in there to do first.

    Hard to do anything else with a turtle poking its head out.

  2. Elon Musk says:

    So you found a free gun, go buy yourself a latte and smile.

  3. Sock Dollager says:

    That pic of the holstered pistol on the velcro-lined pistol belt hanging on the handicapped bar:

    Thats got to be a LEO with a lot on his mind….

    • Twoforone says:

      …or a security guard.

      BENBOW: It still could be stolen, and then abandoned by the thief taking care of his, or her business.

  4. Benbow says:

    its not stolen, its mislaid. There is a difference

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