Holster Your Weapons!

It appears that someone lost a loaded handgun at the Keller-Smithfield playground (oddly called an “activity node” by the city).

On Thursday morning a young boy found a small .22 caliber “pocket” pistol in a sandbox at the Keller Smithfield Activity Node.  He did the right thing by alerting his parent and a call was made to our department.  We seized the loaded handgun and we are working with ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) in an attempt to trace the origin and owner of the pistol. At the present time we do not have an open case of a stolen firearm in Keller that matches the gun found in the sand box.  We believe that someone may have been sitting on the edge of a sandbox and the gun which is designed with a belt or pocket clip was inadvertently dropped.  This was a very serious incident and we are so fortunate that the young boy did the right thing.

—Keller PD E-Safe News, April 20, 2007

I saw the email yesterday afternoon and didn’t think that much more about it until I reached the Keller-Smithfield end of the trail when walking Boots and noticed the Channel 11 news van.  They seemed to be wrapping up their 6:00pm live coverage when I arrived. 

This incident is a good reminder to all people who carry handguns that they have a duty to retain control of those handguns at all times.  Aside from the safety issue of a child finding the weapon, there could also be legal liability.  If the person who had the gun didn’t have a CHL, then there could be a UCW charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year in jail and up to $4000 fine).  And there is also the possibility of a charge under Texas Penal Code §46.13 (making a firearm accessible to a child, which is a Class C misdemeanor if no one is injured), although this section requires proving “criminal negligence.”

As for whether BATFE will be able to trace the owner, it will depend on how the current owner purchased it, or whether it was stolen (and not reported).  If the current owner is the first owner and purchased it from a FFL licensee, then the BATFE can follow the trail from manufacturer to dealer.  If it has been sold multiple times, then it will depend on the entire chain being documented.  FFL licensees are required to document all sales, but private sellers have no such requirement.  I know some private sellers who document all sales and some who don’t.  Of course if it’s stolen, the trail will end with the last documented purchaser.  Which is a good reason to report all thefts as soon as you’re aware of them.  If I were the police I’d be suspicious of someone reporting their .22 pocket pistol stolen today, given the news reports (aside from Channel 11, it was also on all the other local stations last night and this morning).

Finally, this also points out the benefits of good record keeping.  I keep records of the model and serial numbers for all my guns*.  Should any of them be stolen I will be able to give specific information to the police for tracing and recovery, as well as for insurance purposes.

* This brings up an interesting problem for some gun owners, in that most don’t quite trust the government not to abrogate the BoR at some point and decide to confiscate all guns.  So there are likely a good number of “off the books” guns purchased through anonymous private sales and not recorded anywhere.  Gun banners should keep this in mind should they attempt to enforce any such Utopian gun-control fantasies. 


  1. Jim Carson says:

    And now for some positive news about the Keller-Smithfield activity node from the draft agenda of the May 1st Council meeting:

    Consent Agenda Item #2:  Consider a resolution approving the purchase and installation of public restroom facilities at Keller Smithfield Activity Node.

  2. Mike says:

    I’d be quite suprised if it wasn’t some teenager who stole it and he dumped it there to get rid of it.

  3. Phelps says:

    This is also a damned good example of why the Eddie Eagle program is important (or something like it.)

  4. Jim,

    That would definitely be a good addition to the park.  The nearest restrooms on the trail are about 1.5 miles away at Bear Creek Park.


    That’s possible, although they seem to think given the type of gun and its condition that it fell out of someone’s pocket.


    Good point.  I didn’t quote the entire email from Chief Hafner, but the next paragraph covered this point:

    This is an excellent opportunity for parents to discuss firearm safety with their children.  Children should be taught that if they come into contact with any item that appears to be a gun they should consider it to be a loaded gun.  They should not pick it up but have someone call 9-1-1 immediately.  Our community service Officer Scott Bradburn has made firearm safety presentations at our elementary schools and is always available to speak on this or any other safety topic.