Lawmaker's Accidental Gun Firing at Ky. Capitol Brings Attention to Gun Safety

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

"Always assume a firearm is loaded.  That particular bucket of bullets... the reason I brought it up is because people brought in empty guns under the premise of them being empty, and whenever we check every gun, most of those bullets actually came out of "empty guns," said Rockcastle Shooting Center CEO and co-founder Nick Noble.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO)-- Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville said Wednesday that she accidentally fired her gun in the capitol building. No one was hurt or in harm's way when the gun went off Tuesday, the opening day of the legislative session, and Combs said in a statement that the incident was investigated by the state police's legislative detail. She says state police found no evidence to indicate any portion of the round went outside her office.

Although no one was injured during Combs' accident at the Capitol Annex Building, we spoke with local shooting experts about how easy can be to make a fatal mistake, and how simple it can also be to prevent one.

One local gun store says gun ownership is a growing trend, and the incident brought state-wide attention to the issue of gun safety.

"The number of gun owners keeps growing, meaning there's first time buyers entering the market all the time," said Sherwood's Guns owner Sherwood Davis.

Representative Leslie Combs said she accidentally fired the semi-automatic weapon while attempting to unload it in her office. One area shooting and concealed carry instructor says the first rule of thumb is to always keep your finger away from the trigger until you're ready to shoot.

"This comes back to muscle memory, we have to train out bodies that anytime we pick up any firearm, that we have to keep our finger off of that trigger until the gun is up on target and we're ready to shoot that target. There's no other reason to have your finger on the trigger," said Rockcastle Shooting Center Instructor Jim Honaker.

The Rockcastle Shooting Center owner says this is especially important when unloading a gun, and demonstrates why, sing dummy ammunition.

"I've dropped my magazine. Now I've dropped this, but does that mean this firearm is safe and empty? Well... maybe not. It still had one in the chamber, so we always use the buddy system at Rockcastle Shooting Center where we show range officer whether it's clear, and once it's clear, we can holster the gun, hammer down, or put it in a safe direction on the table, so the key here is assume every firearm is loaded," said Rockcastle Shooting Center CEO and co-founder Nick Noble.

Davis says people can frequently make the mistake of thinking a gun is unloaded when that's not the case.

"Always assume a firearm is loaded. That particular bucket of bullets... the reason I brought it up is because people brought in empty guns under the premise of them being empty, and whenever we check every gun, most of those bullets actually came out of "empty guns," said Davis.

Honaker says other gun safety rules to follow include keeping it unloaded until it's ready to use, keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction while unloading, and always knowing what's beyond your target when you shoot. Honaker says he cannot stress the importance of following each of those rules, because there's no second chance with a firearm.

For more information on Rockcastle's efforts to educate gun owners, visit the related link.


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