How to handle finding a pistol left behind by someone

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If you find a gun and do not know the owner or how the gun got where it is, DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT take it to the police. Do not touch it, pick it up, or examine it. If you do you may be tampering with or destroying evidence of a crime, and in the more anti-gun states you may be charged with a crime yourself simply for being in possession of the gun. (It is probably not likely that you would be charged with any crime in which the gun was involved, but that would be an easy way out for some lazy or incompetent officer or prosecutor.) Call the police and advise them where the gun is then follow their instructions, which will probably be to wait there for an investigating officer.

It would depend on circumstances, but calling the police would not necessarily be my first course of action, particularly on one found at a range.
At our private range this is a somewhat common occurrence.
Person who finds the firearm immediately contacts a Board Member.
Board Member immediately emails the rest of the Board with a photo sans SN# and typically we'll get a call by the end of the day.
If not, an email broadcast goes out with person needing to be able to identify the firearm.

In this case I'd make the firearm safe, take a picture and call local law enforcement immediately and wait for their instructions.

Most important thing is to have a "paper trail" ASAP to show due deligence.

If owner gets into a hassle trying to get it back from law enforcement, that's his problem, not yours.
So I show up the other day and the place is locked up tight but when I get in there is a newish Glock sitting out on the bench. No one is around, place is locked, gun is exposed to weather.

When I was a security guard umpteen many years ago, I developed the (annoying) habit of double, triple and sometimes even quadruple checking the doors I'd just locked. I still do that today now and then when leaving home. OCD.
And I always do it when leaving the range. I don't think so much about which guns I brought when leaving the range, but how many guns I brought. That way, not leaving guns behind is a simple matter of counting your weapons before you leave. I've left ear muffs and ammo at the range on rare occasion, but never guns. It's a fairly safe bet that the guy who left the Glock had brought multiple weapons to the range. If he didn't, he's even more forgetful than I am. :)
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Big difference between a small private. members-only club and an open to anyone public range. If the former, contact the president of the club, take the gun home, let him find out who it belongs to. If a public range, take it to the local police and describe how someone must have left it by accident. Odds are the owner will call the police to report it missing (not stolen) so it is on record with them in case a bad took it and used it. I did that years ago, went back looking for the pistol, it was gone, called the police, they said someone turned it in. The only hard part was hiding my embarrassment for being an idiot and leaving it there. Had it back within an hour. If it was YOU that left it there, what would you want the honest person who secured from theft to do with it?
I'd turn it in to the cops. They have the ability to determine ownership; I don't.

The sentiment is proper to a degree, the ability of the local cops to find the owner is completely absent in most cases.

They would have to contact the ATF who could run a serial number check to see where the maker sent it, and at the first stop then its all on them. Distributor located in another state 15 years ago? Ok, contact them, on the taxpayers dime while attempting to keep up with real crimes and stuff happening on a daily basis. Days later the distributor gets back to them via the extremely slow email process which is hiding in their inbox filled to capacity, and you discover it was shipped to another state not bordering yours. Contact that retailer to discover it was shipped to a LGS in a third state and sold to someone there.

There is no national database of who owns what. That is the point. At best it finally goes thru an FFL where he searches a literal bound book of transactions - if he hasn't gone out of business and forwarded those records to the ATF, and now sitting in a warehouse next to a large crate with Nazi markings singed off and other curiousities from Area 51 hiding it from view.

About the best they can do is search a database of known stolen gun serial numbers and if no hits come up, then it's a dead end. Dude lost his gun, old boy is losing it, best for him and the family if he's incapable of keeping track of his stuff.

The best recourse, if you think the gun fairy didn't leave you a present, is to leave your number with no identifying comments about you or the gun in question so those who lost it can at least give you some credible proof it's theirs. EXPECT MORE THAN ONE CALLER. It's going to be like craigslist buying your used car and offering a low ball price. "You found my gun, great, where can I meet you I can be there in 15 minutes I have a reward see you there!" and hang up.

Keep in mind no good deed goes unpunished and watch your 6.

Or they could just do nothing and then if desireable they bid on it at a quiet auction selling off property no longer needed by the jurisdiction.
Not to hijack the thread, but the subject relates. Back in the day, I went to what was a relatively isolated gov't rifle range that I was authorized to use. Just as I arrived, a truck full of Customs Special Agents were leaving. When I got to the benches, they kinda left one of their CAR-15 fully auto rifles laying there on a bench.... I handed it directly to the rangemaster. :)
POSSIBLY due to being a retired LEO, my first thought would be CRIME HERE.

and this is why i would be vary reluctant to involve my fellow LEO. too many us vs everyone else. i do agree i wouldn't leave prints all over it.
If I found a gun in the parking lot of a liquor store I would think "crime gun" but if I saw a gun on the bench of a shooting range I don't think I would.

I shoot at a members-only club. What I would do would depend on if one of the club officers were there. If they were I would point it out to him. If I were alone I might give one of them a call and ask what they wanted me to do. If nobody answered I might call the Sheriff and see what they want me to do. If they take the gun I would leave a note.

I think the potential for getting jammed up is pretty high if you don't tell someone before you leave the premises with it, so I would find some way to put it on record that I tried to see what the club or LEO wanted me to do.
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