An aide to Missouri House of Representatives Speaker Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, left a loaded handgun in a bathroom at the state capital Sept. 20
The gun was left on top of a toilet paper rack in one of the bathrooms in the basement of the building. After the gun was discovered and obtained by Missouri Capitol Police, a secretary for Speaker Jones called and informed the police that a staffer, David Evans, had left a firearm in the bathroom, according to a Capitol Police incident report.
Evans had a concealed carry permit and identified the gun by “brand, caliber, color, size, the holster and the ammunition count and type of that was in the weapon,” according to the report.
The gun was returned, and no further action was taken against Evans, according to the report.
A number of gun-control advocacy groups have called for Evans to be fired, including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“We are outraged,” said Shannon Watts, founder of MDA and MU graduate. “It’s not as though this man left his wallet or a hairbrush behind; he left a fully loaded weapon behind…. He endangered the lives of 30,000 school children who visit the capitol every school year.”
As an organization, MDA has started a petition calling for Evans to be fired and for the legislature to roll back its policy that allows weapons in the capitol. The petition has already generated thousands of signatures, Watts said.
“We are in the process of reaching out to every school in the state of Missouri, and asking them to stop all field trips to the capitol until he has been fired and until (the legislature) reverses the policy that allows guns inside the Capitol,” Watts said.
Jones’ Chief of Staff, Tom Smith, released a statement saying they have met with Evans, and that Evans is “extremely remorseful” and has offered an apology for his actions.
“I know that Dave is a responsible, law-abiding gun owner and that he will never allow a mistake such as this to happen again,” Smith said in the statement said.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68.8 percent of violent crimes are carried out with a gun, which puts Missouri in 12th place for most gun violence.
There has been a definite increase in gun violence in Boone County during the last 10 to 20 years, said Detective Tom O’Sullivan, of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’m not a psychologist or anything, but we have become an armed society,” O’Sullivan said. “There are a lot of firearms available, and people don’t settle arguments with fist fights like they used to.”
There is some gun violence in Columbia, and there was a surge in gun violence this summer, but gun violence is not a major threat to the residents of Columbia, said Columbia Police Department Lieutenant Scott Young.
“The odds of you being a victim of gun violence are frighteningly small compared to some of the other risks you take in life,” Young said.
He also said stricter gun laws at the state level would not stop gun violence.
“It’s shown that those places in the country with the strictest gun laws also have the highest gun violence,” Young said.
The laws that are on the books are effective; they just need to be enforced, O’Sullivan said.
“It’s my opinion that people who use firearms to commit crimes should be punished severely,” O’Sullivan said.
There have been 1,601 concealed carry permits issued during 2013, and a total of 6,433 issued between 2007 to 2013, according to the Boone County Sheriff Department’s records.
“We are not really seeing any problems with CCW permit holders,” O’Sullivan said.
There are some instances where people are negligent and irresponsible with the improper storage of a firearm, but that isn’t a major factor contributing to gun violence, O’Sullivan said.
“For my money, what happened down at the state capitol was clearly irresponsible,” O’Sullivan said. “When you are in possession of firearms, you have to know where they are at all times and make sure they are properly secured.”
Evans submitted his resignation Friday, Sept. 27, Smith said a statement Thursday. Smith accepted the resignation.
"While I was satisfied with the corrective actions Dave agreed to take to make amends for his mistake, he ultimately felt it was in the best interests of his colleagues and friends in the Capitol, as well as for himself and his family, to move on to another endeavor," Smith said in a news release. "The office will sorely miss his strong work ethic and high level of professionalism, but we wish him the best of luck as he moves on to what I am sure will be a successful next step in his professional career."