January 12, 2017
CONCORD, N.H. — A lawmaker rushing to take her seat at the Statehouse for a public hearing on the merits of full-day kindergarten dropped her loaded gun on the floor near some children, but it didn't fire and nobody was hurt.
Rep. Carolyn Halstead, a Republican, said the gun fell off her waistband Thursday as she was trying to settle in at the House Education Committee meeting. She said her backpack caught on the gun as she took it off. She said she quickly grabbed the gun and put it into her bag.
Witnesses said several children were seated nearby but the hearing carried on with little disturbance.
It's not the first time something like this has happened at the Statehouse: Another lawmaker, Republican then-Rep. Kyle Tasker, dropped his gun onto the floor during a 2012 hearing.
Still, Halstead is facing admonishment from the House speaker.
"I have impressed upon her that, while no harm came from this incident, her lack of control is unacceptable," Speaker Shawn Jasper, also a Republican, said in a statement.
Halstead, a second-term representative from Milford, said she always practices gun safety and was "mortified" by what happened. She said multiple safety features were set so the gun would not have gone off.
"I'm still unnerved," she said, later adding, "I don't want people to be afraid."
It's legal to carry a gun on the Statehouse grounds, and Halstead said she's licensed to carry her gun concealed.
Gun rights have been the topic of hot debate at the Statehouse in recent years. A Senate committee this week approved legislation that would remove the licensing requirement for carrying hidden guns. Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, is likely to sign it if it reaches his desk.
The Republican-led House also allows members to carry concealed guns inside the chamber on session days.