“I’m a gun owner. It happens,” Kentucky state Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Harlan, told reporters on Wednesday in response to her accidentally firing a handgun Tuesday in her legislative office located in the state Capitol Annex building.
“I was purposely disarming it to put it up because I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to use it any more,” she added. “I had had it in my purse I carry usually, and I thought I’m going to put that sucker away.”
No one was injured and Combs, a licensed concealed-carry permit holder, was not charge for discharging her Ruger .380-caliber, semi-automatic handgun in the government offices.
“No evidence of criminal acts were observed,” said Kentucky State Police Sgt. Jason Palmer, according to the Courier-Journal. Palmer noted that nearly all of the bullet fragments were found inside the room.
Under Kentucky law, it is lawful for anyone with a valid concealed carry permit to bring a firearm onto the campus of the state Capitol. However, in light of recent events, some are rethinking this policy, which has been on the books since 1998.
“I think we need to really look at whether or not we’re going to allow guns around here,” said Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville. “I tried to prohibit them several years ago, and it did not meet with success.”
Marzian said that she supports the Second Amendment but that there should be places were guns are prohibited.
“I’m certainly not wanting to take guns away from people, but maybe keep them in our cars if people have them, to not bring them around to where there are going to be children walking up around the halls,” she said.
Likewise, Rep. Derrick Graham, who was in his office at 2:30 p.m. when the gun went off, said he thinks turning government buildings into gun-free zones is a good idea.
“I support the idea of everyone being able to have their own guns, but I think there are places like here they should not be allowed,” said Graham, a Democrat who represents Franklin.
However, other lawmakers believe that calls to review the law or to ban concealed carry on Capitol grounds are an overreaction.
“As a responsible gun owner I don’t want to see my Second Amendment rights impugned,” said
Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson.
Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, agreed with Webb’s sentiment but also had some advice for Combs.
“Guess she needs to be more careful,” said Lee. “… I don’t have a problem with her having a gun, but you need to be careful using one.”
To her credit, in a statement Combs acknowledged that the safe and responsible use of firearms is of the highest priority.
I obtained my concealed-carry permit several years ago to better protect my safety, as I travel widely and sometimes at night. I strongly support our Second Amendment rights and our state’s concealed-carry law, and believe just as strongly that gun safety and education must be part of that equation.
I urge everyone to be extremely cautious with their firearm. I know from personal experience how easy it is to discharge a firearm accidentally.