Ky. rep accidentally fires gun in office


Posted on January 8, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 10:25 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Kentucky Representative Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville) accidentally fired her handgun in her Capitol Annex office Tuesday, the eastern Kentucky lawmaker confirmed on Wednesday. No injuries were reported.

"I obviously was stunned," Combs said.  "That's a first."

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The three term representative said her Ruger semi-automatic handgun accidentally fired as she unloaded it while meeting with Representative Jeff Greer (D-Brandenburg).

"I was purposefully disarming it to put it up because I didn't like it and didn't want to use it anymore," Combs explained that she was planning on selling the gun. 

"Why at that particular moment? I kind of had it on my brain. I had it in my purse," Combs said.  "I carried it usually, and I thought I want to put that sucker away. And I did. And I was going through the process as I have been trained to do, had it pointed in the proper direction like I've been trained, was disarming it like Ive been trained to do, and I said I am a gun owner .... it happens."

"The buller struck the carpet and broke into pieces," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) Prestonsburg.  "And the primary piece and other pieces were found lodged in the bookcase, the wooden bookcase that sits next to her desk."

Combs emphasized that "no one was in harm's way. I made sure of that."

"Rep. Greer was on the other side of the room," she said.  "It was in the opposite direction."


Yesterday I accidentally discharged a gun in my LRC office. I urge all to be cautious and safe. Please go to my Facebook page for more.


— Leslie A. Combs (@combsleslie) January 8, 2014

Stumbo said he was briefed after an investigation by the Kentucky State Police's Legislative Security Branch.

"We recovered part of - most of - the bullet fragments," Sgt. Jason Palmer, the branch's commander told WHAS11.  "No evidence was located demonstrating portions of the round traveled outside her office.  And no injuries were reported at the time of the incident."

Though the shot was fired about 2:30pm, Palmer said Combs did not notify KSP until 4:25pm, nearly two hours later.

"I don't know what happened there," Palmer said.  "I'm not sure why it took so long to get the call."

Palmer said everyone cooperated with the investigation and because it was an accident there was no criminal intent, therefore no criminal charges are expected.

"Fortunately, thank God, no one was injured," Stumbo said.

Stumbo said a number of lawmakers are armed, and he too has a concealed carry permit.

"Obviously we work late hours here and no - that doesn't concern me," Stumbo added that he was not carrying a weapon on Wednesday. 

Combs said the incident had not prompted her to reconsider whether she would be armed at the Capitol.

"I am a gun owner," Combs said. "I support the right to bear arms.  As a female, particularly for protection rights, I feel the need to carry a firearm not only because I travel here a lot of times but a lot of times at night to Lexington, but in the eastern Kentucky region, it is normal to have that."

"I go into a lot of areas where I'd feel I need the protection," Combs told WHAS11.  "And I usually always have a firearm on me.  But obviously there's a need for, I will be the first proponent for gun safety at the same time I am also a proponent and support people being able to carry weapons properly and with a concealed carry permit."

Stumbo recalled that subsequent governors have not reissued an executive order banning guns from the Capitol after it expired when Gov. Paul Patton left office in 2003.

But it is a concern to some lawmakers.  Louisville representative Mary Lou Marzian tried to prohibit guns at the capitol several years ago and said the issue should be reconsidered.

"I think we need to look at whether or not we're going to allow guns around here," Marzian said.  "I think we really have to look at safety, the volatility of a weapon that could go off and really injure somebody."

Combs is sticking by her Second Amendment rights, and was already planning to replace her gun.

"It's an automatic," Combs said.  "I need to stick with revolvers."