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Gun-Toting Delegate Misfires at Va. Capitol

Del. John S. Reid tries to explain to reporters in Richmond how his handgun accidentally discharged.
Del. John S. Reid tries to explain to reporters in Richmond how his handgun accidentally discharged. "I really don't know," said the 16-year General Assembly veteran. (By Bob Brown -- Richmond Times-dispatch Via Associated Press)

Reid, a school administrator in Chesterfield County, said he has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon and regularly brings his gun to the legislative session to protect himself. He is the sponsor of several controversial bills this year, including efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. But he said he usually ejects the cartridge and carries the bullets in his pocket.

"All of us occasionally get some phone calls that concern us, so during the session I have been carrying it," Reid said. He has had a permit to carry a concealed weapon for two years and has one other gun.

The Henrico County sheriff gave him the bulletproof vest several years ago "as a joke," he said.

Word of the incident spread quickly through the gossipy galaxy of Richmond lawmakers, lobbyists, advocates and reporters. According to one lobbyist, a list was going around with key words that should not be said in front of the General Laws Committee, which Reid chairs. Example: Take your best shot.

Others, including Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), couldn't help but rib Reid by marveling at what appeared to be the freak coincidence of the single round striking Reid's bulletproof vest.

"It was good if he was shooting at that coat rack and that it was wearing a bulletproof vest," Kaine said.

But Reid, who is known for a biting sense of humor, appeared humbled by the experience.

"It's at least causing me to evaluate myself," said Reid, 63. "I'm just thankful this turned out as it did."

Staff writers Ann E. Marimow and Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.


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