Our Opinion: Negligence rises to grounds for dismissal

Is leaving a loaded handgun in a publicly accessible restroom grounds for firing a Missouri House employee?

We believe so.

Although we are not calling for the dismissal of House staffer Dave Evans, we consider his negligence sufficient reason for terminating his employment.

Evans, a legislative assistant to House Speaker Tim Jones, left his loaded 9mm handgun in a men’s restroom in the Capitol basement.

Fortuitously, the weapon was found by another House staffer, who reported the incident to authorities. The handgun subsequently was returned to Evans, who has a concealed carry permit, and no charges have been filed.

In another example of government’s double standards, a 2011 law permits legislative staff members who have a concealed weapons permit to carry guns in the Capitol, where weapons otherwise are prohibited.

Evans’ action may not have been criminal, but it certainly was irresponsible and negligent.

Tom Smith, the speaker’s chief of staff, said Evans will be required to take a gun safety course in the coming weeks.

One group, the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, contends that is not enough.

They are calling for Evans’ dismissal.

Rebecca Morgan, spokeswoman for the Missouri chapter, said: “Any child could’ve found that gun, or someone could’ve found it and resold it.”

True enough.

Although that could have been a result, it wasn’t.

The chapter also is encouraging schools to cancel planned field trips to the Capitol, a popular destination for educators and students. That request is designed to pressure legislators to change the 2011 law.

The incident has generated debate not only about the individual case, but about broader Second Amendment issues.

One aspect that is not in dispute is that gun ownership brings responsibilities, and the consequences of negligence can be severe.

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