What do you do if you find a gun in a plane's bathroom?

An air marshal recently forgot her gun in an airplane bathroom during a flight. It was found by another passenger, who turned it over to a flight attendant, who then gave it back to the air marshal.

Two questions:

#1: I thought the flight crew was not supposed to know the identity of the air marshal on any given flight. If that’s true, how did the flight crew get the gun back to the air marshal? :dubious:
#2: What exactly should you do if you find a gun in an airplane bathroom?

I’ve been pondering #2, and still not sure how I would handle it. Some considerations:

-I don’t want to leave the gun in the bathroom for someone else to find; I need to personally ensure that the gun is safely transferred to the hands of a cabin crewmember. So I feel like I should take it with me when I leave the bathroom to go find a crewmember.

-I don’t want to alarm fellow passengers, so I am not going to be carrying this gun out in the open; it’s going in my pocket, or getting wrapped under a sweater.

-If the gun is in a holster, then no problem; I’ll wrap it up, quietly contact a flight attendant, and make the handoff out of sight/earshot of other passengers. But if it’s not holstered, then I have safety concerns about wrapping it or putting it in my pocket. I have some experience with firearms, but not a lot, so I wouldn’t be 100% certain about how to safely cover an unholstered weapon. If there’s a very obvious “safety” button or switch to prevent accidental firing if the trigger gets nudged, then I think I’d be OK wrapping/carrying it, but I know for example that Glock pistols have an uncommon safety mechanism which (ISTM at least) could allow the weapon to be accidentally fired if the trigger gets pulled/nudged while you’ve got the gun wrapped up (see e.g. Plaxico Buress). I might opt to remove the magazine from the gun and also remove the round from the chamber, but it’s not 100% clear to me whether there’s any risk of the gun firing when I pull the slide back to remove the round from the chamber. And then of course there’s the question about where the hell to point the gun while you do anything with it. At the floor, I guess, since the bullet would have to travel through the floor and a bunch of luggage before it could penetrate the fuselage wall?

So back to the question: what do you do if you find an unholstered gun in an airplane bathroom?

I’d flag a flight attendant, tell him/her what I saw. No way am I touching a gun - I know enough to know I don’t know how to handle one safely.

FCM, will you kindly return my brain? I don’t recall lending it to you :dubious:

Or, what she said.

Press the assistance button inside the bathroom, wait for a flight attendant to knock the door, then open it and explain the situation as calmly and unambiguously as possible.

Why do you think that?

Don’t know really; the rationale that I had associated with it was that being anonymous conferred a tactical advantage (the crew can’t be forced to reveal the marshal if they don’t know who it is), but thanks for setting me straight. The article does note that air marshals for some other countries are unknown to the flight crew.

Thanks, that’s pretty good. I forgot that there’s a call button in the bathroom.

Although I do know how to handle guns safely, I’m not touching it because I don’t want my fingerprints on it. We know, after the fact, that this particular gun belonged to a somewhat absent minded sky marshal. There are other possibilities and I don’t want to be tied to the gun in any way should the situation be more sinister. I’d use the assistance light and stand outside the toilet, blocking the door until some cabin crew arrive. Then, I’d give the briefest possible version of “I just walked into the restroom and found a gun on the floor/sink/whatever and it is still there” that would make me understood.

I’d be less concerned about handling than I would be about disturbing a potential crime scene.

The very same FA who planted the gun there in the first place.

Oops. :smack:


Exactly. I know how to safely handle a firearm, too, and seeing one doesn’t freak me out - though seeing one on an airplane is obviously quite unusual. But I’m not touching it, for fear of being implicated in something, or worse, being shot by an air marshall who sees me with it. And, yes, I wouldn’t know it was an air marshall’s pistol at the time. I suspect I would come out of the lav, stand in front of the door and flag down the nearest flight attendant and calmly tell them what I found in the lav. While we sometimes think of flight attendants as “waitresses in the sky”, they do have training and have authority (or can get someone out of the cockpit). If they know there is an air marshall on board, then they would probably be rather calm. If they know there isn’t an air marshall on board, then I imagine they might be quite a bit more nervous.

Does the fact that my first thought is “Cool. Free gun!” make me a bad person?

Nope. That was my first thought as well. :stuck_out_tongue:

So, free trip to Cuba is the wrong answer?

From what I hear, the jails in Cuba are no walk in the park.

I wouldn’t worry about accidently setting the gun off, in general they’re hard to set off accidently. I however wouldn’t put it in my pocket and walk up to a flight attendant and say “I’ve got a gun in my pocket”

Nope. Just so long as it isnt your 2nd thought. :stuck_out_tongue:

You are correct, etiquette requires that you stand next to the flight attendant and remain silent until they ask: “Are you happy to see me?”

Why would this be the case? It would be important, for a variety of reasons, for them to be in the know.

The second thing I would do is see to it that Air Marshall was out looking for a night manager job at Taco Bell.

:smiley: Very funny.