Two Year Old Finds Unsecured Firearm In Airbnb, Management Company Won’t Remove It

If you ever needed a story that underscores how little standards there are in renting through Airbnb, I think having your two year old find an unsecured firearm in a home you’ve rented and then not receiving any sort of meaningful response from the management company or Airbnb has to be it.

To be clear, there are second amendment rights to firearm ownership. Whether you like guns or hate them, Heller was rightly decided. But there’s no right to rent out a home to others with a firearm inside that’s not even prominently disclosed in the listing.

I don’t care whether this is a BB gun or a rifle, and whether there’s no ammunition. It’s not the guest’s responsibility to identify the type of weapon and extent to which the situation is dangerous. Some people know guns, others don’t, and a working knowledge of firearms isn’t listed anywhere as a prerequisite for an Airbnb account.

And the notion that Airbnb didn’t respond immediately and with multiple followups? That’s disconcerting to say the least.

Any gun belonging to an owner should be secured, but also shouldn’t be in any home for rent on Airbnb or through another platform. If you find an unsecured weapon inside a home you’ve rented (or a hotel room) don’t touch it. You don’t want your finger prints on it.

This was flagged for me by @JohnGaltPattaya who asked for my comment and at the time all that occurred to me was,

On the other hand, none of this post applies to lodging rentals in Chicago, where firearms should be a basic expectation in any accommodation just like running water and heat.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The guest should just ask the police to pick it up and hold it at the station for safekeeping/lost property. The owner of the Airbnb can go down to the station to pick it up from there, assuming it’s theirs and not a weapon left by the last guest.

  2. But there’s no right to rent out a home to others with a firearm inside that’s not even prominently disclosed in the listing.

    Why not? I mean, I’m a gun control advocate, but I don’t know what laws exist to restrict what items of personal property can and cannot be present when you are renting a vacation property. I assume the firearm would be subject to whatever laws around safe storage exist in the jurisdiction where the home is located, but that’s not related to whether the home is a vacation rental or not.

  3. Lol another very responsible gun owner part of a “well regulated militia” no doubt.

    Well I suppose they’re better than those other very responsible gun owners that are all busy being responsible they forget they have a gun and try to go through airport security.

  4. @LarryInNYC – let’s put it this way-if the child shot the weapon and, God forbid, hurt or killed themselves or someone else, the property owner (and likely AirBNB although they would likely be able to be removed from the suit) would be sued out of existence. While you are correct there may not technically be a list of what can and can’t be left in a rental unit (unless the management company has and enforces such a list like they did at the beach condo I used to own and rent out) there is an assumption of a safe environment. That is fundamental and will supported by case law. In this case that didn’t happen. Frankly, the people that rented it could like sue (and win) just based on mental duress of having the gun in the property and stress about what might have happened.

  5. I’ve rented several times through VRBO and once through AirBNB, in many places. In every case, there were one or two closets in the unit which were locked, and inaccessible to the renter. The weapon should have been secured in one of those locked closets.

    Further, the child welfare laws in most states prohibit exposing small children to weapons of any kind, under the rubric of “child endangerment”.

    The parents should report the issue to the local police. Complaining on Twitter is no substitute for a police report.

  6. Query (not suggesting, just asking) what would happen if the renter took the long gun with them on departure ? I’m picturing perhaps some raised eyebrows & skeptical rejoinders from the police officers taking the Abnb theft report “you are reporting to us that a family with a two year old took your gun which you left unsecured in your rental unit ?”

  7. @Gary: I see what you mean. I’m also concerned that I could be subject to a long, boring law school lecture. Luckily, though, law school lecturers rarely ever show up at police stations and deal with the real world application of the laws they study.

  8. It was not a firearm. It is a BB gun.

    Perhaps they should have given notice their were steak knives in the drawers as well?

  9. Ehh, the only issue I see is that the host didn’t come take the item that made the guest uncomfortable.

  10. I once stayed at an Airbnb that had a locked walk-in closet. I was curious if someone was inside or what was inside. I was unable to pick the lock. I then thought of a way. Insert a smartphone under the door and take a photo!

    I found that the room had toilet paper and cleaning supplies but no dead body or live person.

  11. My gawd you are such a [redacted -gl] moron. We’ll see how much you like Heller you stupid [redacted -gl].

  12. BB, .22, .30, .500 caliber round – to borrow from the Romans of yore … it’s all fun and games til a toddler lose an eye.

  13. One important missing piece to this story is whether this was a dedicated short-term rental unit or someone’s personal residence they were side-gigging for extra coin. Most Abnbs seem to be the former. I’ve stayed in a couple that were the latter, without knowing until arrival that was the case – not a fan of that model. Add that to the list of things ABnb should get better about – requiring full disclosure in the filtering or description of whether you are looking at a potential stay in someone’s personal space while the owner couch-surfs elsewhere, with all their stuff present in the house/condo/apartment/room, or whether the unit is a a straight-up, dedicated rental/guest unit. My best guess from the circumstances is this was someone’s personal residence they rent out short-term, with all their personal belongings there. I can’t think of why else the unique, um, “amenity” would be present for renters to access.

  14. @Karl Rupp: Fun and games until a toddler slices themselves open with a knife as well?

    I’d like to see a toddler than can shoot themselves in the eye with a BB rifle.

  15. @1KBrad – you make a reasonable counter-point about the steak knives, though typically those are in a drawer – a bit harder for little hands to access, or in a block on the counter, harder still.
    But if the OP is accurate, the gun was leaning up against the floor, in a much easier spot to access for a 2 year old. And then there’s this …

    “On Wednesday two 3-year-old boys were shot by another toddler who found and inadvertently fired a gun at the home of their babysitter in Dearborn, Mich., according to the Detroit Free Press. The boys, one of whom was shot in the face and the other in the shoulder, are in stable condition at a hospital.

    The Dearborn boys are at least the 42nd and 43rd people to get shot by a child under the age of 4 this year, according to a database of accidental child-involved shootings maintained by Everytown, a gun violence prevention group. On average, someone gets shot by an American toddler a little more frequently than once a week, similar to previous years.

    These figures, which are compiled from media and police reports, are likely an undercount. If a child receives a relatively mild gunshot injury, such as a grazing, parents may try to keep the incident quiet and not seek medical care. It’s also possible that an unknown number of small children find guns and fire them without hitting anyone, which would not necessarily result in a medical or police report.

    In many of these shooting cases, a toddler finds a gun and accidentally shoots himself with it — 27 out of the 43 toddler shootings involved self-inflicted injuries. Earlier this month in Ohio, for instance, a 3-year-old boy found his father’s loaded gun in the kitchen and fatally shot himself in the head with it.”

    I do take your point, though – it wouldn’t be easy for a 2 year old to take his own eye out with a long gun. I guess my main thought about this – separate and apart from the rental unit aspect – is that gun owners who fail to properly store and secure firearms do a disservice to prudent gun owners everywhere. The first thing my grandad taught me about firearms was never to point the muzzle of a gun at another person unless I intended to shoot them. The second was to never leave a gun around where someone other than myself or an adult I wanted to have access to the gun could get hold of it.

  16. It by definition is not a firearm. It’s a pellet air gun that you can buy on Amazon for $100. However it should not be left in a rental property, lock it in the shed or attic.

  17. @Scott: “However it should not be left in a rental property, lock it in the shed or attic.”

    Agree 100%.

  18. @Karl Rupp: I don’t disagree with you.

    The owner of the BB gun, which is not a firearm, should have been more responsible.

    I certainly am.

    That said, more kids drown in swimming pools than are accidentally killed by actual firearms.

    Life has certain risks, although this one could have been minimized better.

  19. @1KBrad – Yup, good points. And in both instances (swimming pools & firearms), vigilant parenting is the best medicine for preventing tragedies.

  20. @MissMarirose That lecture may have been long, but it certainly wasn’t boring. Some very strong points made, but the officer who spoke would clearly need to change his demeanor in today’s environment. He didn’t seem like any advocate for the community he supposedly “supports.”

  21. Its a risk the owner took leaving it there. However nothing in law can say he was negligent if the parents booked the listing and not the child. If I recall it falls into a short term rental agreement and depends on the states law.. But if you were to move in to an apartment today and found a gun. What recourse do you think you have against the landlord? Probably none. You should just leave the apartment its not your right to dictate the owners personal property. Someone would have to get hurt in order for the owner to be liable.

    The parents should of just left if they felt unsafe. There really is no need for anything else.

  22. It was an air rifle, not a firearm.

    The misleading picture of a handgun magazine with ammo is misleading

  23. I could be wrong but it looks like a air pellet gun to me, I would just put it in a shelf that the 2 year old can’t reach and enjoy the stay.. Should it be left there by landlord? no. But but they may no knowledge that it was left there and note my butt don’t get hurt easily.

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