Missing gun prompts scare

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

A gun forgotten at Foster’s Crossing this week required an impromptu investigation into Idaho firearm law.

Storekeepers at the local antique retail and cafe shop found a surprise in a public restroom on Monday when they noticed a loaded handgun on a shelf. Although the gun was eventually returned to its owner and no one was hurt, the incident left some surprised that there aren’t any laws against leaving guns unattended in a public place.

“The police say he’s not only allowed to carry the gun but he can leave it wherever he wants,” said Foster’s Crossing co-owner Dave Luers.

According to Valerie Plaster of Oak Street Mercantile, a mother of several children was the first to find the gun. She reported it to Plaster, who decided to call the police. The gun was turned over safely to police officers. Several hours later, the owner of the gun realized it was missing and returned to Foster’s Crossing, eventually recovering it from the police. He had apparently taken off the holster while using the restroom and forgotten to put it on again.

Plaster was surprised to learn that the owner would face no repercussions for leaving the gun unattended. But according to Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon, there aren’t any local or state laws prohibiting unsecured firearms in public spaces. Plaster believes that’s an oversight.

“If you drink and drive, you don’t have to hurt someone to be arrested,” she said, reasoning that irresponsible gun oversight falls into similar territory.

While Luers is happy the incident was resolved without a problem, he is unsettled to think what might have happened if the wrong person walked into the bathroom and found the gun. While Luers is a gun owner himself and has no problem with their responsible use, he also has a store full of people to protect.

“We have store full of kids and people of all ages,” he said.

According to Coon, the lack of a law against a misplaced firearm is all the more reason for open and concealed carriers to keep an alert mind. It’s the best defense against a tragic accident, he said.

“With Idaho changing the law to allow more people to carry, it places the stewardship on individuals to be responsible,” he added.

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