One Weird Trick That No One Teaches You About Concealed Carry

revolver gun toilet paper roll holder

Courtesy Amazon

What’s the number one thing that most people new to the world of concealed carry don’t know, and that most training courses — whether state-mandated or not — fail to address? It isn’t basic gun safety. It isn’t the intentionally burdensome firearms rules imposed by federal, state, and (in non-preemption states,) municipal authorities on gun owners. And it isn’t self-defense tactics.

No, the silent killer that no one wants to talk about is this:

What the hell are you supposed to do with your concealed, belt-holstered sidearm when you’re visiting a public lavatory?

Admit it: when you were a newbie on your first visit to Walmart for nachos after getting your shiny new license and concealed carry permit, you felt more than a little anxiety when you headed into lavatory stall. That’s because American public lavatory designers prioritize janitorial convenience over privacy and someone might notice that you had something in your pants that typically isn’t seen in the loo.

So you had to improvise on your own. Some of you sought out that semi-private handicapped stall in the corner. Others wrapped the waistband of your undergarments around the butt of the pistol to keep those Larry Craig-style looky-loos from noticing it.

And some of you — I’m not judging here, but you know who you are — decided that the safest and most covert route would be to simply remove the handgun and stick it on the handicapped hand hold, the paper dispenser, or other handy surface.

It’s to this latter group that I’d like to gently suggest that a different strategy might be appropriate.

Look, everyone has different priorities. For some of you, avoiding discovery tops the list because the stakes of being ‘made’ while carrying a gun during the typical day are high both socially and in terms of future career prospects. Others may worry about the local constabulary, who could take an aggressive interest in people discovered to be carrying a firearm in public, regardless of the legal particulars.

It isn’t easy. People of different body types, genders, sartorial tastes, and tolerances for being ‘outed’ may find the solution that works for me (for the record: the waistband solution mentioned above is my preference) is impractical for them. But this is something worth thinking about, because it’s a problem that, eventually, we all have to face.

If you’re embarrassed by this, well, suck it up, buttercup – these are the things adults who carry concealed firearms need to consider.

gun revolver toilet paper holder

Courtesy Amazon

In my experience, removing the firearm from the holster during a typical bathroom visit is something to be avoided at all costs. It’s a version of off-body carry (which I don’t endorse either), but it’s a particularly malignant one that requires its practitioner to be on their game when they are vulnerable to distraction.

A system that requires you to do the right thing 100% of the time is not a good one. We’re all fallible. We all have off days, and the way the human mind works, unexpected sights, sounds, and smells — anything that gets us to split our attention — can cause us to get distracted.

Some of these sights, sounds, and smells can make us to want to GTFO of Dodge as fast as we can without going through our usual checklist before we do. Especially in a public lavatory.

Did you ever leave anything behind in a bathroom — say, a cell phone — and have to go back to retrieve it later? Yeah, that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about. Except instead of the next visitor getting to check out the pic of your kids on your cell phone lock screen, that person gets free access to a deadly weapon.

 

I bring this up because a 63-year-old school teacher in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, had to resign from her job and is facing charges from the D.A. because she left her gun behind in the classroom toilet, where some elementary school children found it.

Beth Jean Dixon, 63, put her holstered pistol on a toilet tank when she used the unisex, one-toilet bathroom Aug. 25 at Cumberland Christian School, in Chambersburg, police said. They said she forgot about it and left.

Four children, ages 6 to 8, used the bathroom while the gun was on the toilet. One child told his parent, who told a teacher.

Dixon informed administrators of what happened and immediately resigned from the school, police said.

No one was injured….

Dixon was charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of children. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the latter charge is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree, which means a maximum penalty of not more than five years.

A conviction like that would mean that you will be prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm and, at best, will have a convoluted path toward ever getting those gun rights restored after your time in the justice system is finished.

Shot shell toilet paper holder

Courtesy Amazon

One moment of forgetfulness took away this person’s job, threatened her freedom, has no doubt caused no end of embarrassment for her, and has even turned an employer that was apparently neutral on guns into one that’s now imposing more official requirements for legal concealed-carriers.

 

If concealment is truly a priority for you and you believe that the lavatory is a high-risk zone for whatever reason, perhaps a smaller, .380 pistol carried in a pocket holster might be more appropriate.

Concealed carry is really just a series of compromises, after all. Whatever your solution happens to be, just make sure it doesn’t require you to be perfect 100% of the time.

We all have enough to worry about — don’t make it harder on yourself.

 

This post was originally published in 2016.

comments

  1. avatar jwtaylor says:

    This is what I do. I don’t understand the problem.

  2. avatar Larry says:

    Not an issue , I go number two first thing in the morning at home , that’s it for the day ,except for rare occasions. Can’t recall the last time I used a stall in a public restroom , thank God .

    1. avatar larryarnold says:

      I could do that also, when I was young. Now I’m 73, my system isn’t as regular as it used to be, and my gut won’t wait as long as it once would. Your turn will come.

  3. avatar Darkman says:

    Not sure what the issue is. I carry in an Alien Gear Kydex OWB. Paddle is over both the belt and waistband of my pants. Have yet to have a problem with the holster falling off or firearm falling out. I tend to not use public restrooms but as We all know. Sometimes Shit happens.

  4. avatar Scooter says:

    Pocket carried 642, this is a non issue. However, IWB Shield 9mm or M&P9c requires creativity. Usually, it gets rolled into the pants, but if there is a changing table in the stall I have dropped the table and put the holstered gun on the table. Couldn’t open the stall door without raising the table, so no gat left behind!

  5. avatar Geoff “sometimes you have to flush twice” Dpsht says:

    The best solution is not have a gun at all. Although I like to talk about them.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      If you’re going to impersonate me, at least do it well, boy.

      Because that effort is *pathetic*…

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Pathetic, yes, Geoff. But I hafta admit, PG’s choice of username when imitating you above was kinda funny…

        Think of it this way – you have the starting of a fan club now.

  6. avatar Ralph Humphrey says:

    Is it just me, or is this article completely ridiculous???

    1. avatar Alex in Oregon says:

      Not ridiculous at all. It’s something that we who carry have to think about and discuss with others who carry. As with everything else concerning the daily carry of a firearm, YMMV, but it is still worth talking about.

    2. avatar GunnyGene says:

      It ain’t just you. :rolleyes;\:

    3. avatar GunnyGene says:

      It ain’t just you. :rolleyes:

    4. avatar Mark N. says:

      There are reported incidents of police officers leaving their firearms behind, so yeah, it happens.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        True story…I’ve regularly visited a particular LEO supply store here in northern L.A. County (for most of my gear, where I have the opportunity to try something first, and pay cash instead of online). On one day when I brought my gun in to fit-test a holster, one of the employees told me a Sheriff Deputy had *just* left his personal gun in one of the changing rooms (probably trying on new uniform pants or somesuch) and didn’t notice it for two hours before coming back to sheepishly apologize and pick it up.

      2. avatar Mad Max says:

        I know a police commander that was fired for leaving his sidearm in the police-only bathroom of the police station.

        If I had of found it instead of another cop, I would have sold it back to him for a reasonable price.😊

    5. avatar miforest says:

      It’s just you, if you don’t see the seriousness. having your gun fall on the floor , or worse yet leaving it when behind and going to jail will ruin your day. I agree with the author that this is one off the biggest risks of CC.
      In my home state , open carry is legal, so having your gat seen is not so much of a big deal, but in some places it could be trouble. I do like pocket carry too, but more for comfort(sorry , Clint) .

  7. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    If your method is detaching your handgun (from on-body carry) and placing it on top of a toilet paper dispenser or toilet tank, you could also carry a length of sturdy string and drape that through/over the door latch of your bathroom/stall. That string then functions to remind you to recover your handgun before you exit your stall/bathroom since you have to grab that string in the process of manipulating the door latch.

    As far as I can surmise, someone would have to be insanely distracted to forget to grab their handgun AND dismiss the string draped through/over the door latch.

    1. avatar Hush says:

      Well perhaps some are not in the golden senior years of their life! Probably I would say to myself, “wonder where that string came from, or what’s that string doing there?” and toss it. Or, due to failing vision, not even notice the string. Larry has the best solution in his comments. However, I endorse not removing the gun from the holster and wearing a shoulder holster solves the problem too. Age changes things such as: hearing, vision, walking and if I remember correctly memory, yep that’s it Memory wherein lies the problem. Keep living and you’ll see, hopefully!

      1. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

        I’m 70 and I’m not that senile yet. Of course, I’m not Joe Biden, either…

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Hush,

        If someone’s memory is so bad that:
        (1) They cannot remember that they themselves placed a string through a bathroom/stall latch just a few short minutes earlier.
        — and —
        (2) That means do NOT leave their handgun in bathroom/stall.

        Then, he/she needs a custodian and he/she should NOT be armed.

        Like it or not, this is the sad truth of our human condition: many of us will eventually need a custodian in our later years. When that time comes, our custodian is responsible for our well-being. And that responsibility includes both disarming their charge as well as being able to defend their charge from attackers.

        I express my profound sympathies if you or a loved one has entered that category.

        1. avatar Hush says:

          uncommon_sense,
          I agree with you completely. As for me I am not to that stage, yet, but I only drive around town these days and I carry on an empty chamber. I see the day arriving when I’ll quit driving and quit carrying. I am 77 and age and ailments, vision and hearing loss, are taking a toll. Such is old age. One has to know when to slow down and when to quit.

    2. avatar UpInArms says:

      Or you could use the string to make a lanyard and hang the gat around your neck. If some Biden-esque permit holder put a string through the latch, he’d be in there all day trying to figure why there is a string in the latch.

    3. avatar drunkEODguy says:

      Im actually the “place on tank/tp dispenser/handrail” guy but I never forget it. Not because I’m a savant or anything, but because I found the best system is kinda “all or nothing”. I take the gun, phone, wallet, and keys and put them all together. The odds I forget one is high, the odds I forget EVERYTHING is pretty much nil. Hell, thats how I remember everything in the morning or before I leave to run errands somewhere; put everything relevant in a stack where I know I’ll pass by it before I go.

      1. avatar hawkeye says:

        I call it the SPETAK principle. Same Place Every Time Always Know. My dear wife loses her car keys every day, because they usually end up on the first flat place she encounters whenever she stops walking after coming through the door. I even bought her one of those lost-keyring-beeper devices, but she loses the clicker because she has a dozen purses that she cycles through.

        Some interesting ideas here, thanks guys.

  8. avatar Hannibal says:

    This article is way too long to read when it could be two sentences long.

    Take gun out of holster or holster+gun off (if clip holster), place it between legs on top of pants. This makes it impossible to forget, concealed, and means it won’t fall.

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      Exactly this. It’s not difficult, unholster if carrying on the belt and set it inside your skivvies. If you STILL manage to accidentally leave the gun behind, well… you probably struggle to walk and breathe at the same time

    2. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

      When I go to a john that doesn’t have a toilet paper roll with a roll of my own toilet paper, this is precisely where I put the roll for the same reasons. Adding a gun to the pile should be no problem.

      In fact, I’m not sure what the issue is at all. If your holster is attached to your belt, and your belt is attached to your pants, why does anyone need to remove the firearm and/or holster at all? How many times do people peer under the stall door to see what your pants look like down around your ankles? Got a lot of gay guys in your office? How hard is it to hang onto your pants up around your knees to prevent the gun from dropping on the floor with a bang or being visible? Can’t operate toilet paper with one hand?

      Is everyone that messed up a snowflake? LOL

      1. avatar FrankTexas says:

        BINGO! Just don’t drop em’ all the way. Works every time for me.

  9. avatar Lance says:

    Detach the holster from your belt & either hold it or place it between your underwear and pants that are around your ankles.

    Frankly the most danger you’re in is from some hoplophobe seeing your firearm under the stall and calling the police. That and an unsanitized toilet seat.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Toilet seats are more sanitary than most of the rest of the bathroom. Something about the surface composition I think but test after test shows less bacteria on the toilet seat than surfaces that people touch more.

  10. avatar David says:

    I carry IWB at around the 4 o’clock position and this isn’t an issue as the gun is well hidden being behind both pants and underwear.

  11. avatar M. Labe says:

    If I’m pocket carrying then it is in a simple pocket holster, or if I’m belt carrying it is in a paddle rig. In either case I can remove the whole thing and lay it on the TP dispenser right next to me where I can see and if need be grab it. If there is no handy shelf available then I usually place it on the top of the tank or flat shelf right behind me where I can still reach back to grab it in an emergency and can replace it in concealment when I stand up. As for forgetting it and walking out without it, I PAY ATTENTION and remember it’s there. Hell if you’re operating in Condition Yellow, as you should be out in public, forgetting your weapon shouldn’t happen. If you are prone to forgetting a 500+ dollar posession that could hurt someone then you need situational awareness training and a brain pill.

  12. avatar Anner says:

    Gunsite has dowel rods in each stall just for this, but I doubt Wal-Mart is as accommodating.

    Pocket carry solves everything. If IWB, grasp the belt/holster combo as you drop drawers. It tends to just sit there, muzzle safely vertical, in the crumpled mess of clothing above your shoes. When done, grasp the belt/holster combo again and pretty yourself up. That’s it.

  13. avatar EdEarl says:

    Just clench the gun butt tightly between the teeth. Pachmyer grips will actually help you push a little harder if too much cheese has rendered your sphincter uncooperative.

    My personal office lavatory has a roomy inexpensive holster mounted to the wall to accommodate whatever me or a guest might be carrying.

  14. avatar MLee says:

    No good answer but for me, I RARELY take a dump in a public sh–ter Being an old guy, I’m always taking a leak though but that’s not a problem. The few times that nature did call plus the fact that I appendix carry, when the pants are down, the holster and weapon sit in the crotch of the downed pants. There’s no way you’ll forget your gun like you might if you were to set the firearm elsewhere.

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      Same here with AIWB. Even if i have to take piss, i still use a stall and sit down, no standing while trying to hold the holster. It mitigates risk.

  15. avatar Mark N. says:

    Anybody who eats nachos at Walmart deserves the need to use the public facilities.

  16. avatar hoosier_grand_daddy says:

    Just like when I’m wearing a bathrobe at home, the answer is “shoulder holster.”

    1. avatar MLee says:

      Starsky or Hutch?

  17. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    In terms of holsters that handle the call of nature or other circumstances that require the removal of the handgun from the hip the Ritvhie Close Quarters Quick Release or Alessi style CQC/S holsters (and their clones) do this about the best. Firearm and holster can be removed from the belt as a unit easier than a paddle holster and then reattached in a much more secure manner. The firearm remains much safer as the trigger is never exposed.

    I’ve used these style Holsters for nearly 30 years because of this feature.

  18. avatar Ron says:

    Put it in your pants. Don’t forget it I assure you. Also still readily accessible should you have to blast your way out of the shitter.

  19. avatar cgray says:

    Merry Christmas!!!! Shitter was full!!!!

  20. avatar Chadwick says:

    The waistband method works fine for me.

  21. avatar Tsay Nguyen says:

    If I ever found myself in a situation where I needed to drop a deuce in a Walmart I would immediately recognize it as a bad dream. Achieving lucidity would allow my to fly off superman-style and drop the deuce from a safe altitude. Just for fun.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      You can fly in your dreams? When I achieve lucidity and realize I can control my surroundings, the highest I can ever get is perhaps 30 feet off the grounds, and that’s while furiously flapping my arms like a prairie chicken. Flying like Superman is the stuff of…well…better dreams.

      1. avatar Tsay Nguyen says:

        Lol, I haven’t tried arm flapping! Honestly, I don’t fly very well either. Usually it’s more like floating away like a hot air balloon with very little control. Then I think about it too much and wake up. I’m good at recognizing that I’m dreaming but not so good at maintaining lucidity without waking up.

  22. avatar VicRattlehead says:

    True story:
    A friend had to stop for, and I quote “a 5 alarm poo emergency” and hurriedly placed his firearm on top of the tank. When he stood up to wipe he bumped the toilet and heard a heart-stopping ‘sploosh!’. Yup, his Glock fell right off into the overflowing bowl of biohazardous material.
    Hearing him tell the story and how he had to completely disassemble the gun for a THOROUGH cleaning had my wife and I in stitches. 🤣
    Me personally, I carry a Shield 9mm ISWB and have had no issues with it coming out and falling on the floor. People who worry about it being seen are worrying way too much. You have to bend WAY over to see what’s on someone’s waistband under the stalls.

    1. avatar Bubba says:

      This nightmare scenario is the best argument for the ‘courtesy flush’ yet 😉

  23. avatar AndyinMA says:

    Google the San Luis Obispo police chief for a good one. Well, actually a really bad one.

  24. avatar Specialist38 says:

    All the comments about not crapping in public restrooms re ind of an old Red Foxx joke……but I digress.

    Makes a good case for pocket or shoulder holster carry but I’ve never had an issue with iwb or owb carry when dropping some cable.

    Owb the holster easily stays attached and can be laid forward onto pant.

    Iwb means I just remove the holstered gun and lay it in the crotch of my pants.

    Folks who use the tp dispenser or toilet tank are begging for trouble IMO.

    Seems like I have read more stories about LEOs losing heaters in the bathroom. Seen more stories about CCW folks losing gun in movie theaters.

  25. avatar chumley says:

    Of all the issues surrounding CCW, this is about the biggest non-issue. I remove the revolver and holster together (IWB), sit them on the toilet paper dispenser beside me, do my business and go on my way. It is always within easy reach and if someone sees it, who cares? Why are they peeking in stalls in the mens room?

  26. avatar possum says:

    I remove gunm from holster, point it at my bowls and threaten them the metamarsupial better work. Sux gettn old.

  27. avatar Bubba says:

    20-odd years ago, when I was a noob CHPer, I encountered this situation for the first time.
    I took a moment to pause and think, then immediately figured out the “carefully unholster and stash inside your pants” technique.
    Fortunately, I haven’t had to do this very often. I’m not a fan of public restrooms. People are gross.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Stop in at a Bucee’s some time. You can eat off the floor of the crappers, and there are hundreds of them. Every one cleaner than my home crapper.

  28. avatar Jr says:

    I seriously hope you are using the “one weird trick” headline as a joke and haven’t seriously resorted to the lowest of the low clickbait headline tactics.

  29. avatar BusyBeef says:

    Get a belly band.

  30. avatar Hugh Glass says:

    Do us all a favor and shit at home.

  31. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Sneaky Pete, just drop ’em and have at it. Pistola still concealed and instantly available for “personal” defense.

  32. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    As more than a few LEO’s have learned the hard way over the decades including a Texas Ranger in bank restroom, never ever ever ever hang your shooting iron on that convenient coat hook on the door of the toilet stall, at best a single negligent discharge waiting to happen, at worst a mag dumping rotational bumpfire.

  33. avatar RDB says:

    Wow san luis obsibosdo story was horrible…

    there’s also the remove from holster place in front pocket…. huge noticable requirement to reholster…small pistols work for this.

  34. avatar Glorfindel says:

    It depends on what kind of holster you’re running, but for me, simply refastening my belt just below the knee while I’m doing my business works to keep it up high enough to be out of sight. This also works great for duty belts just to keep them off the station floor.

  35. avatar Bob says:

    https://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20090527/NEWS/305279981

    This was an officer from the Illinois Bureau of Investigation.

    Not quite as talented as when the #2 at ISP Dist 14 Harry Douglas shot a fellow officer while on the range.

  36. avatar Red says:

    Since I carry inside the waistband on approximately right front, I simply fold my jeans over so that it cannot be seen. The gun’s weight (full-size 45) makes this easy.

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