Sunday, April 28, 2013

Don't get caught with your pants down... Restroom Basics for Concealed Carry. That was the sound as a shiny Smith & Wesson Model 60 slid across the tile floor in front of my feet from the stall next to me in the courthouse restroom one morning many years ago when I worked in law enforcement. I was taking a moment of relief in the first restroom stall as a detective prepared to do his testimony in the stall next to me. His open-top, inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster let loose of his snubby as he dropped his pants.

Next was a short chorus of four-letter adjectives as he grabbed his pants and shuffled out, doing his best soft-shoe routine, to find his wayward revolver. While I literally laughed out loud, I am also reminded by the memory of my own restroom mishap.

I had gone into the restroom at the local Big Boy restaurant while on duty. Taking my duty belt off, I hung it on the coat hook on the back of the stall door. Unfortunately, the weight of my boat-anchor... er... Smith & Wesson 4516 .45ACP semi-auto along with extra magazines, handcuffs, a PR-24, a portable police radio, a folding knife, and several other items that would have made Batman's utility belt jealous... was just to much for the poor stall door. The top hinge of the door let loose and the door and my duty-belt, along with my S&W 4516 and friends came crashing down. When I put on a show, I bring down the house... literally.

Aside from the normal typical safety and security concerns with public, and even private, restrooms... the regularity of "gun found in restroom" stories that seem to be in the news is quite concerning. It seems that all kinds of folks forget to check their firearms after they zip up. Federal agents, police captains, secret service agents, deputy fire chiefs, armed school security guards, and even regular concealed carry folks seem to inadvertently leave their guns behind in restrooms.

If you wear a gun for your job or as a citizen exercising your God-given rights protected from the government by the Second Amendment... KNOW WHERE YOUR GUN IS AT ALL TIMES! Seems simple, but it only takes one quick lapse.

Now when using a restroom, whether public or private, you need to consider both practical and tactical aspects so you don't get caught with your pants down. When entering a restroom, choose the best restroom you can.  Can you wait until you get back home or until you reach the hotel room? Can you avoid a crowded restroom and find one in a better location that is less crowded? Is it a multi-person restroom or a one-at-a-time restroom.

Gals often have additional considerations as they typically have purses, sometimes packages, and often kids with them. Yeah, I know guys do too, but more often than not, I see the gals with the munchkins. If you are with your family or friends, all of you don't need to use the restrooms at the same time, but take turns so someone can maintain a watchful eye and also manage the kids, packages, and other concerns outside the restroom.

Pay attention to who enters the restroom before you and who is hanging out in the general area of the restroom. There are criminals waiting for victims. Can you leave extra belongings or your jacket and other items with somebody you trust? Notice who enters after you. Do you really want to use the urinal with your back to a potential attacker?

Personally, if I'm carrying... I always use a stall. Can the gun remain holstered on your belt? Can the gun be set somewhere safely where it won't slide or be accessible to someone else? Check the stall out, is there some place to set your firearm while you're taking care of business? Why set your firearm somewhere? ...because for many folks, it's hard to get the pants down and back up while working their belt with a loaded gun in an IWB holster with and extra magazine on the weak side.

Kathy Jackson recommends you leave the gun holstered, but I know that creates a juggling act for some folks... so do what you have to.  You might even want to do some "dry-fire" practice (pun intended) with a chair at home just to get used to getting your pants down and up again with your holstered gun and spare magazine.

I prefer the gun to remain holstered and if I remove it... I'll remove it in the holster if I need to.  Also, I've personally talked with two people over the years who have sent their guns (and a third who sent his iPhone) in for a swim trying to pull their pants up while holding the belt, the pants, the holster and other items all at the same time... so be careful.

Why not just leave it holstered on your belt and lower it to the floor and your ankles with your pants and belt... well because most restroom stalls have a foot of visible space at the bottom where someone outside might see your gun... which can result in the "man in the restroom has a gun" report to the manager, security, or police. Whatever you do, CHECK your gun BEFORE YOU LEAVE to make sure it leaves with you and not later on with someone else.

Some other considerations... I've seen folks toss their coat over the top of the stall door so someone on the other side could grab it and run... all why their pants are down around their ankles. Gals, I hear from some of you that purses are often set close to the edge of the stall on the floor where someone outside the stall could easily grab it and make a run for it.

I prefer on-body carry for gals - which I recommend as an instructor, and if you can find a stall with a solid wall on one side... preferably your gun side, it's a good idea for both guys and gals. Is there a diaper-changing station that you could use as a temporary shelf to set your gun and belongings on? And if you use that coat hook on the back of the door, check it first for sturdiness... or you might bring down hook or even the whole door if you're not careful.

Before you get ready to leave the stall, check your gun, holster, and other items to make sure you have everything... especially the gun.  If you're carrying concealed... make sure you get the concept of concealed before you step out to wash your hands.  Personally, I like to stand where I can wash my hands and have a clear view of the restroom... whether it be directly or with the mirror on the wall.  I also like to stand with my gun-side away from others that are in close proximity to me.

You have to maintain your situational awareness at all times before, during, and after using a restroom as there is often only one way in and out and very limited room maneuver or to put distance between yourself and potential threat. Remember, most restrooms have no window, no security cameras, and are often down a hallway or out of the way by design... which gives both folks and criminals the privacy they seek to do their dirty business.

Those are just a few thoughts to consider so... you... Don't get caught with your pants down... Restroom Basics for Concealed Carry.


  1. I have a 3 hour commute to work weekly. I almost always have to stop, even if Barkley can snooze that whole time without a break. I tend to watch who is at the rest stop on the highway when I go. If there is just one or two cars, and semi's I do NOT stop. Safety in numbers, I don't wish to be the only female in the building late at night. I will simply continue on through and go to a large well populated restaurant further down the road.

    Great tips Dann, things one doesn't always think about.

    1. PLEASE tell me that commute is only 1 day per week. I would hate to think you have that drive every day!

  2. Those baby changing tables can be a big help when they're part of a one-seater.

  3. Heh, my CZ slid into the pond by being placed on a sloping tank top.
    Before I flushed!
    It is a problem in some RR's.

  4. Pocket carry. Gun and phone.

  5. Nice this issue comes up, again. A 70s gun mag suggested leaving one's snubbie in the crotch of the descended pants whilst seated.
    Easy to grab, safe direction.
    And, as you recounted ALWAYS know where it is and where it's pointed.
    The gun, too.


  6. When I was in the Sheriffs academy years and years ago, we were taught to unholster our weapon when in the stall and put the pistol in our underwear when we sat on the toilet, just like armedlaughing said. It worked for me for many years, and after I left law enforcement, I continued to do it when I carry a BIG pistol. When I carry my 2inch five shot revolver (most of the time) I just leave it in my pocket holster.... Good article!

  7. Ah, Good post! I like a paddle holster for this and for many other reasons. The other option is to borrow one from Abe Vidoga in Barney Miller and wear a shoulder holster!

  8. You can also usually stick the gun inside the ass-gasket holder (if it isn't full of said gaskets), as it's usually out of reach of prying hands (most times they're right behind the toilet or right next to it).

    There are usually a few places to set it in any given stall, being aware of someone trying to reach for it from over/under the stall.

    The problem with putting in the crotch of your pants/skivvies when you're sitting down is that, depending on the stall, the walls could be high enough to see inside and spot your Roscoe.