FRANKFORT, Ky. — Rep. Leslie Combs accidentally fired her handgun while unloading it in her office in the Capitol Annex on Tuesday.
"I'm a gun owner. It happens," she said Wednesday, adding that she was following safety precautions as she unloaded her Ruger 380 semi-automatic handgun. No one was injured.
Combs said she has a concealed carry permit, allowing her to carry the gun, which she said she often carries in her purse.
Kentucky State Police Sgt. Jason Palmer, who heads the legislative security unit, said Combs accidentally fired the gun once about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"No evidence of criminal acts were observed," he said, adding that most of the bullet fragments were recovered and there was no sign that any fragment traveled outside the room.
He said the incident was reported to the state police at 4:25 p.m.
Combs, a Democrat who's served in the House since 2007, said Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, was the only other person in the office when the gun fired.
"I was purposely disarming it to put it up because I didn't like it and I didn't want to use it anymore," she said. "... I had had it in my purse I carry usually, and I thought I'm going to put that sucker way."
Combs said the gun was pointed in the proper direction — and away from Greer — as she unloaded the gun, as she has been trained.
"I was particularly careful," she said. "Rep. Greer was on the other side of the room...No one was in harm's way. I made sure of that."
Asked if the incident caused her to reconsider carrying a gun, Combs said, "I am a gun owner. I support the right to bear arms. As a female —particularly for protection rights — I feel the need to carry a firearm.
"I will be the first proponent for gun safety, at the same time I'm also a proponent in support of people to be able to carry weapons properly and with a concealed carry permit."
Combs was interviewed in a conference room and declined to show reporters her office where the gun was fired.
Greer, who said he was in Combs' office to talk about a road project, said the gun "was pointed away and down toward the ground" when it fired.
"It was extemely loud," Greer said. "...I asked Leslie if she was OK, and people from common area came in to ask if we were OK."
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said that former Gov. Paul Patton, governor from 1995-2003, had issued an order to keep guns out of the Capitol but that that order expired and has not been renewed.
"So if you have a concealed carry permit it's my understanding you can carry the weapon as you would in these buildings, Stumbo said. "... Rep. Combs had a permit, she was legal to carry the weapon. And that's all there is to the story."
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, was surprised to learn of the incident. "I think we need to really look at whether or not we're going to allow guns around here. I tried to prohibit them several years ago, and it did not meet with success."
Marzian said, "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."