Saturday, May 2, 2015

Everyone Can Be Forgetful Even In The Crapper

It's been reported that officials in Washington DC at the Capitol Building are fuming over reports that Capitol Police Officers forgot their loaded handguns in bathrooms and other places within the Capitol building. Actually, the article I read about it says the officers left them and I am the one saying they forgot them because I cannot believe they left them behind on purpose. Now, Congressmen are ranting for a full investigation.

Granted, officers forgetting their weapons somewhere, especially where the public has access to them (and one was found by a young boy) can have dire consequences. So, an investigation should be carried out and the officers who forgot them behind should receive some type discipline and maybe retraining in weapons safety and security. Yet, it need not be a matter of political opportunity for some Congressman to ingratiate himself in front of the public by blowing his horn over and over again about these incidents and wasting the taxpayer's money while doing so.

Here is about how the investigation and disciplinary process should go, in my estimation:

Gun is discovered by other than the person who forgot it, who then reports it. Bear in mind if person who forgot it remembers it and gets to it first, or if person finding it does not report it (for whatever reason), we might never know about it and believe me, I can say with absolutely no doubt, both of those happen.

Firearm retrieved or taken into custody by appropriate person.

Superior officers notified.

Officer to whom weapon was assigned called on carpet.

Officer told what was found and where it was found and to explain why officer's handgun was found in stall in bathroom.

If honest and intelligent, officer states that he took a dump and forgot the handgun in the rest room and it will not happen again. If there are medical reasons or emotional problems that led to forgetfulness, the officer should be required to seek medical or psychological assistance.

Officer reprimanded and disciplined based on this offense and past service record. Discipline could be anything from a letter of reprimand placed in personnel folder to days on the beach (no pay), to firing. If officer retains job, the officer should also required to attend training on firearms safety and security.

End of story.

Of course, we are apt to see this reported on again in the media because the current Capitol Police chief is under the scrutiny of Congress and has offered his resignation over the recent gyrocopter event a the Capitol. This is yet another thing they can roast him over if they choose to get rid of him. Congress critters will likely take every advantage of these forgotten gun incidents to advance their political agendas.

Now for those of you ready to bring up "the only ones" statement and say this proves police are inept when it comes to firearms, that is all so much flaming and I will delete any such comments if you make them. Anyone can forget even a firearm somewhere. That such is evident can be seen by how many guns the TSA confiscates from the carry-on luggage of air travelers. and by how many are found during traffic stops that were forgotten in the trunk or in the glove compartment during interstate travel. 

I know, I know, not one of my readers has ever left or forgotten a gun somewhere that it did not belong. I'll be honest and forthright and tell you all, I have forgotten one somewhere more than once. For instance, I got about halfway to work on at least two occasions only to very suddenly realize that I felt light on one side. It is a shock, I can tell you that. My sidearm had been left behind at home, instead of in its holster where it belonged for a day at work; I was running late for work and in a rush. I also left one in a motel safe, drove 60 miles, remembered it, drove back, retrieved it, and went back on my way. Wasted a lot of time and gas on that one.

I know of many such incidents like that having taken place, with other LEOs, during my 32 years in law enforcement. One guy in the Border Patrol worked for about half a day, then realized his gun was not in his holster. Thought he lost it chasing an illegal alien. After a search, he decided to drive home and check there. There was his revolver, in his apartment. I also know of one incident in which an agent left his gun in the stall of the men's room. About 20 minutes later, the agent, in a bit of a panic, rushed back to the men's room. There was the pistol, left right atop the toilet paper dispenser where anyone else who had wiped their butt would not have missed it. While it may seem as if no one else had used the stall and found that pistol, let me point out that there was a NY Times left behind by the person who had done his business in that stall after the agent who forgotten his weapon there (that newspaper was not there earlier I would swear to it). That person apparently thought better of reporting the weapon, probably figuring someone would come back for it. I also know of quite a few people not in law enforcement who have told me they have done likewise either forgetting a weapon at home or in the stall.

Funny thing is that most law enforcement and non-law enforcement firearms instructors, I have been instructed by, never even mention firearms in the lavatory, or what to do with them when so indisposed, to their student shooters. However, I have known some who do give instruction on how to secure and not forget a weapon when in that situation. One of the methods is to use the stall next to the wall and keep the pistol inside its holster - this works well if your pistol winds up on the same side as the wall. If you cannot get that stall, you can leave it inside the holster and twist the belt and holster around to be behind your foot making it difficult to grab by someone reaching under the stall. Others have said to place it inside your underpants down near the floor, so as to be sure not to forget it.

Wherever you place it, the handgun and you are in a compromised situation in a restroom stall. I like the idea of keeping it in the holster, and twisted the belt/holster around a bit for it to be behind my foot while so involved and next to the wall if possible. Note, I have instructed others about that option but note that since they were LEOs they all had to have holsters with retention devices other than retention by mere friction. I do not necessarily recommend this method if the holster you are wearing is a friction only type holster. In that case, you should try to figure out some other method of securing it and that will not lend toward an accidental discharge, dropping it when you rise, or forgetting it in the stall.

Placing it on the coat hook is not advisable (coat hook now inside trigger guard, gun easily accessible to anyone outside stall, also easy to forget). Placing it atop a flat and level toilet paper holder might be an okay alternative but you must remember to check to see if it is secure there and bear in mind - someone entering the next stall and banging the door shut could cause it to fall. Placing it atop a toilet tank (if there is one) can be okay if the top is level and flat but remember, now it is behind you and will be easier to forget. Always remember, you are handling a loaded firearm while in the stall, so try to assure it is always pointed in a safe direction if at all possible and that nothing gets into the trigger guard in contact with the trigger.

The truth is though, shit happens and it is a fact anyone can be forgetful in the stall even when it comes to a firearm. If you want to be less likely to ever forget it, then formulate a plan of how to secure the gun while in the stall and then actually train yourself by practicing it over and over again - you may want to use and unloaded or rubber training firearm toward that end (no pun intended). Just like anything else with firearms training, it requires repeated practice and even then may never be perfect but will be a lot closer to keeping your weapon secured and you and others safe.

All the best,
Glenn B

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