Thursday, January 26, 2006

Va. Delegate Accidentally Discharges Gun (in his General Assembly office)

RICHMOND, Jan. 26 -- A Virginia lawmaker accidentally discharged a handgun in his General Assembly office Thursday morning, firing a bullet into a bulletproof vest that was hanging on the wall of his office. No one was hurt.

Del. John S. "Jack" Reid (R-Henrico) apologized to his colleagues on the floor of the House of Delegates Thursday afternoon, saying that "everyone has a right to feel safe here."

Reid said he has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon and regularly brings his gun to the legislative session. But he said he usually ejects the cartridge that holds the gun's bullets and carries that separately in his pocket.

As he was doing that Thursday morning at about 9:15, he said, the gun went off. At that time, the nine-story General Assembly building was filled with lawmakers conducting committee meetings and lobbyists, citizens and reporters.

Reid, a former school principal in Henrico County outside of Richmond, said he was given a bulletproof vest several years ago "as a joke" by the Henrico police. "That absorbed it. It did not breach the office in any way," he said.

He told lawmakers that he immediately reported the incident to the Capitol police as an accident. Before speaking about it on the House floor, Reid informed his Republican colleagues privately and then asked for a brief closed-door session with House Democrats to inform them as well.

"I want to apologize to the members of this body," he said.

Virginia law allows anyone with a legally-obtained concealed-weapons permit to carry their guns into any state building except courtrooms. There is no list that indicates how many lawmakers actually carry their weapons to their offices, committee meetings or to the debates on the floor.


I'd bet he was actually aiming at the vest and didn't check the chamber before he pulled the trigger.