Gun safety group seeks ouster of Missouri Capitol staffer who left firearm in bathroom

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 | 7:34 p.m. CDT; updated 10:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 24, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — A gun safety group is calling for a Missouri House staffer to be fired after he left a loaded handgun unattended in a Capitol bathroom.

"Any child could've found that gun, or someone could've found it and resold it," said Rebecca Morgan, spokeswoman for the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

According to a Capitol Police report, Dave Evans, a legislative assistant to House Speaker Tim Jones, left the loaded 9mm pistol on top of a toilet paper dispenser in a men's bathroom in the Capitol basement. Another House staffer found the gun and reported it to police Friday morning.

According to the police report, Evans has a concealed-carry permit. Police returned the gun to him, and no charges were filed.

A 2011 law allows  legislative staff with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms into the Capitol.

Tom Smith, Jones' chief of staff, said in a statement Tuesday that Evans will take a gun safety course in the next few weeks as a result of the incident.

"He is extremely remorseful about this unfortunate incident and willing to take full accountability for his mistake," Smith said.

Morgan said the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action has asked Jones to issue an apology and to fire Evans. 

The organization is also calling schools and asking them to cancel their planned field trips to the Capitol, which houses the Missouri State Museum. The museum received more than 470,000 visitors last year, according to its website. Of those, 30,000 were children on guided tours, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Morgan said that just as mothers call their children's friends' houses before play dates to make sure all firearms are secured, parents and schools should be aware of safety risks within the Capitol building.

"My son is supposed to go later in the school year, and I don't feel safe sending him to the Capitol," she said.

The Moms Demand Action group hopes its effort will help change the 2011 concealed-carry law.

"If (Evans) can have his fully loaded, ready-to-shoot, unattended gun in a restroom and there's no law against it, the law needs to change," Morgan said.

Morgan said the organization received no direct response from the Capitol. Moms Demand Action describes itself as a grassroots organization that formed nationwide after the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

"It's just a crying shame," Morgan said of the unattended gun. "It's our responsibility as parents and as legislators to make sure that it doesn't take losing a child's life to change this law."

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