Speaker: No comment on loaded gun staffer left in restroom
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI)– The Missouri Capitol Police will not file any charges against a 64-year old aide to House Speaker Tim Jones after he left his loaded hand gun in a basement men’s room in the State Capitol on Friday.
David Evans has a valid conceal and carry permit according to the police report. Lawmakers and legislative staff members with CCW permits are permitted to carry a gun in the state house. But citizens visiting the Capitol building may not bring weapons on the property.
Police say the 9mm gun, with one bullet in the chamber and six rounds in the magazine, was found on a toilet paper dispenser in a restroom near the building’s cafeteria.
Evans was not in his office Tuesday. Speaker Jones declined to comment on the incident or respond to calls from a citizen’s group to dismiss Evans and then publicly apologize for his staff member.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, a group that called for the dismissal and apology, urged parents to keep their children from visiting the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City until concealed weapons are banned from the building. Rebecca Morgan, spokesperson for Moms Demand Action, said “We’re outraged to find that a fully loaded, ready to shoot fire arm was left unattended in the men’s room at our state capitol.” She worries children might pick up such a weapon. The group called the situation, “an obvious endangerment to children.”
Parent and gun owner Tracey Teithoff of Jefferson City said he was disappointed to learn of the incident. He said it was scary to realize anyone could have picked up the gun and used it improperly. “I think that they do need to take steps to make sure that it (carrying a concealed weapon) is being taken seriously because it is a serious responsibility.”
Speaker Jones’ Chief of Staff Tom Smith issued a statement Tuesday saying Evans had apologized for the lapse. “He is extremely remorseful about this unfortunate incident and willing to take full accountability for his mistake. I have instructed Dave to take an additional gun safety course which he has agreed to complete in the next few weeks.” Smith went on to say, “I know that Dave is a responsible, law-abiding gun owner and that he will never allow a mistake such as this to happen again.”
The Capitol police screened visitors with metal detectors for several years after the 9-11 attack in 2001. But the metal detectors and guards at the entrances have been removed. Police said they could rely on other forms of surveillance to protect the building and lawmakers.
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