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Locating a Loaded Gun

A farm manager contacted me regarding the loss of his pocket pistol while he was mowing at his farm.  Of course, their primary concern was the safety of any kids who might find the gun – it was small and could be mistaken for a toy.  Recent rains would likely render the shells useless, but we couldn’t be sure about that. 20141025_113316

Despite hours of looking by eye and with a flashlight , he could not find it, so he reached out to me online.  On arrival we took a ride around the farm and he showed me the areas we’d mowed that day – and it was a bit daunting.  But I had a strong feeling about one section, where the mower would have been at a strong tilt, and the awkward position for the rider would increase the chances of it falling out of his pocket.   So that’s where I started, and that’s where it was.  Within half an hour, I had the gun and the owner was ecstatic.  He made me lunch on the grill (amazing grilled chops, onions and peppers – by FAR the best lunch I’ve ever had metal detecting!)

Method to find

I ran my Minelab E-trac with the 15″ coil on low sensitivity (10) in all metal relic mode.  This allowed me to cover much more ground.  The gun was loud and clear.  I only found three other targets that qualified, a can, a hose end, and a dog brush.  The low sensitivity setting helped me ignore the other junk in the lawn.  I used my Minelab harness in case I was on this search for a long time.  It’s worth noting that even standing right above this gun, you could not see it.  Even after I heard the signal with the coil, I still had to use my pinpointer to find it!   Even a week’s grass growth will hide things amazingly well!

The owner cleaned and oiled the gun, and it is back in operation.  The shells in it when lost were in fact waterlogged and would not fire, and the safety was still on when I found it.

Important – [highlight color=”options: yellow, black”]GUNS ARE SERIOUS BUSINESS[/highlight], even .22s like this one:  I treated it as if it were cocked and ready to fire and possibly unstable.   If you’re asked to locate a gun, but don’t feel comfortable handling it simply find it and leave it in place – ask the owner to handle it.  By all means, keep the gun pointed away and towards the ground at all times.  Do not put it in your finds bag.

If you find a gun by chance20141025_114607

Also… if you find a loaded gun when detecting by chance, there is a pretty good possibility it may be part of a crime scene or may be stolen..  Do not handle these as they represent evidence (you don’t want YOUR fingerprints on it either!)  Give local police a call to come and recover it properly for forensic and/or ballistics tests, and serial number searches to see if it’s stolen.   Try to stay near the gun, but if you must leave before police arrive,  take a photograph of the scene, note GPS coordinates and tell them where it is.  It’s my understanding that you could get in trouble if you find a gun and don’t report it, though I could not find specific statutes about this.

Protect Kids

Kids have basically zero gun-handling skills these days.  If you’re in a park or other location where kids are around, try to stay near the gun until authorities arrive if at all possible, or tell another adult who is able to do so, you may stave a life!  The officers will probably have questions for you and may want to see an ID, but should be appreciative of your help and send you on the way.

If you’re a gun enthusiast, you probably can’t take the gun home right then, but you could help solve a cold case, and that indeed would feel great and does wonders for our hobby.   Ask the officer for a found items claim number so you can retrieve the gun later  once they have checked the gun out (be prepared to prove you’re a registered gun user, and be prepared for a long wait while they grind through caseload and detectives investigate.)   You may never get the gun, but you can feel proud you’ve done the right thing.