Politics & Government

Pikeville lawmaker accidentally discharges gun in Capitol Annex

Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, represents the 94th District (Pike, Harlan, Letcher counties) in the Kentucky House.
Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, represents the 94th District (Pike, Harlan, Letcher counties) in the Kentucky House.

FRANKFORT — State Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pike ville, "accidentally" discharged a pistol Tuesday in her legislative office in the Capitol Annex.

Combs said in a statement Wednesday that nobody was hurt and that she was following "standard safety procedures when the accident occurred."

"The incident was investigated by the Kentucky State Police's legislative detail, which confirmed that 'no evidence was located that demonstrated any portion of the round traveled outside of Rep. Combs' office,'" the statement said.

Combs said she obtained a concealed-carry permit "several years ago" for safety reasons, "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," Combs said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told reporters Wednesday that he thought Combs was "very concerned and probably somewhat embarrassed" by the incident.

"Thank God, nobody was hurt," Stumbo said.

Many states have banned visitors from carrying guns in their state capitols, but they are allowed in Kentucky when properly permitted or displayed openly. In 2011, a group of gun advocates called on Gov. Steve Beshear to stop requiring people who bring weapons into the Capitol to wear red stickers.

Several lawmakers have raised concerns in recent years about allowing guns in the Capitol, where emotions often run high during rallies and debates, but Stumbo said Wednesday there's no need to change existing rules in light of the Combs incident.

"I don't see anything that needs to be changed, and someone's going to have to convince me otherwise," Stumbo said.

While high-profile mass murders in the last few years have sparked a heated national discussion over gun control, Stumbo said he thinks that concealed-carry laws have cut down on violence, describing mass shootings as the "awful acts of people who were deranged."

"I think (concealed-carry laws) actually deterred some violence," he said.

In her statement, Combs urged "everyone to be extremely cautious with their firearm."

"I know from personal experience how easy it is to discharge a firearm accidentally," she said.