by Matt Evans and Matt Kalish
A top staffer for Missouri’s House Speaker who left a handgun in a public restroom of the State Capitol has promised to take a gun-safety course.
The loaded firearm was discovered sitting on the toilet-paper dispenser in a Capitol bathroom on Sept. 20. The official Capitol Police report of the incident, including calls by the House speaker’s office to get the gun returned, were not released until Monday, Sept. 23.
The gun belonged to David Evans, a newly hired legislative assistant in Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones’ office. Evans has a valid conceal carry permit for the weapon and police gave it back to him after he was “able to identify the weapon by brand, caliber, color, size, the holster and the ammunition count and type that was in the weapon.”
Twice during the investigation by Capitol police, a secretary for the House speaker asked police for return of the weapon.
According to the police report, an officer found the Kahr CM9 9mm pistol loaded with, “one round in the chamber and six rounds in the magazine.” Police also discovered all of the rounds were hollow point ammunition.
On Sept. 24, Jones’ chief of staff released a statement that said Evans apologized for the incident.
“We have met with Dave to discuss this incident and he has offered his sincere apologies to me, to Speaker Jones, and to his fellow staff members,” Tom Smith said in the written statement.
In the statement, Smith was quoted as saying that Evans agreed to take a gun safety course in the next couple of weeks. Jones, R-Eureka, did not return calls for comment. The statement did not indicate whether Evans would be allowed to continue to bring weapons into the Capitol before he completed the course.
No charges were filed in the incident. Evans, 64, left the gun in the restroom on a Friday morning when the legislature was not in session. Had lawmakers been in session, there would have been heavy traffic in the building and the restroom.
“I think we might have been looking at a different scenario,” said House Minority Leader Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis. “Thank goodness no one was hurt in the incident.”
A 2011 state law authorizes legislative staff and statewide elected officials to carry concealed weapons in the Capitol if they have permits. But signs at the entrance doors of the Capitol inform the general public that firearms are prohibited.
“The public is not allowed to carry concealed weapons in Missouri government buildings. It’s another case of legislators thinking they’re above the law,” Hummel said.