I Lost My Guns In a Boating Accident – Origin Story Revealed

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I lost my guns in a boating accident

Ever wonder what it is with the gun-owning community and their love of losing their firearms in boating accidents? The truth is that it’s a joke. There is also a story behind the joke that involves gun ownership and Second Amendment rights. You might want to buckle up and pour yourself a cold one, because you’re about to take a deep dive into the origin story behind the saying, “I lost my guns in a boating accident.”

You ready for this?

Where Does “I Lost My Guns In a Boating Accident” Come From?

As with most internet memes these days, the saying “I lost my guns in a boating accident” actually stems from a real world event. Back in 2014, during a drought in California, the water level of Castaic Lake in Los Angeles dropped 151 feet. Since the water had rarely—if ever—gotten that low, people were amazed by some of the stuff they had found in the now shallow pool.

A local fisherman ventured out into the waters and pulled up a water-logged backpack containing a gun and a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) badge. Being a Good Samaritan, the fisherman called up ATF and explained what he had found. The ATF stated that the backpack belonged to an unnamed agent who, back in 1992, took a boating trip at Castaic Lake.

Instead of leaving his belongings smartly packed in his Jeep, the ATF officer and his buddy put all their belongings in their fishing boat. As luck would have it, their boat sank, and the backpack was lost to the depths of the lake.

The ATF never explained what disciplinary actions were taken, nor did they say whether the loss of the gun had been reported to local authorities. Oddly enough, the irresponsible agent was still working at ATF when his long lost backpack was found.

What’s the catch? People found it kind of odd how the ATF can come knocking on your door looking for a firearm whenever. Plus, they can fine you. Yet, they took no action against one of their own.

All in all, it’s an ironic tale portraying the confusing and frustrating state of American gun laws.

Check out this explanation video:

What Does The Joke Mean?

Here is where the story gets really laughable. After the gun was found and the story made the news, people on the internet went wild. Many states have strict gun laws. In NJ, you need a gun license to even have a gun at home for protection.

In California, where our tale takes place, there’s a rule that if you do lose your firearms, you must report the loss. Should those guns go missing in a tragic boating accident, it’s known that firearms not stored in a waterproof cases are unusable once waterlogged. Since there is no danger of the gun washing ashore and being used on someone, you can just file a missing firearm report as per state or federal guidelines.

However, if the police knocked on your backdoor tomorrow asking about a missing firearm and you said, “Oh, sorry officer, I lost my guns in a boating accident,” who knows what would happen? Probably nothing good.

So the “I lost my guns in a boating accident” joke is making fun of the double standard. An ATF agent gets away with losing a gun in one of the states with strict gun laws, but the average citizen would be penalized.

By the way, the ATF is notorious for losing guns. It was reported that between 2010 and 2014, the ATF lost 49 guns, one of them being a machine gun.

Why Are Gun Owners Purposefully Losing Their Guns in Boating Accidents?

Okay, maybe the gun owners of America are not truly losing their guns. It is now a phrase that the gun community uses to hide the true location of their firearms.

For example, this comedy skit, showing a man who somehow lost 150 firearms while on a boat:

Even Charles Fout, a former Security Specialist for the US Federal Government, got in on the joke. He said, “My own guns were tragically lost in a boating accident. I had taken them out on a canoe to enjoy the fresh air (they get all surly if you leave them locked up in the safe for too long). One of [the guns] spontaneously caught fire (it was a rather warm day), and I had to kick it out of the canoe. Unfortunately, all the rocking and commotion caused the canoe to overturn, and all the rest of them fell out, as well.”

Furthermore, there are some guns that gun owners purchase only to find outlawed within a few years. Losing guns in a boating accident is the best way to “misplace” firearms while staying (somewhat) compliant to the law.

You assume that many of the “missing” or “lost” guns in these boating accidents are indeed safely tucked away.

Is the excuse always going to work, though? Maybe. Here is a video from a lawyer describing the practicalities:

Where Did Your Guns Go?

Now you know the origin story behind “I lost my guns in a boating accident.” It’s definitely a popular phrase. Will it work for you should the ATF knock on your door? Maybe. For now, though, losing your guns during a fishing trip is definitely a humorous punchline for many current affairs.