Gun Dealer cited in firearm discharge at Salem, Virginia gun show.

July 21st, 2009 at 9:44

Man charged in Salem gun show mishap

Thomas Raymond Allen was helping a friend when an antique rifle went off at the Salem Civic Center.

The man who was injured when an antique rifle discharged during a gun show at the Salem Civic Center on Saturday has been charged with a misdemeanor count of recklessly handling a firearm, Salem officials said.

Thomas Raymond Allen, 52, of Max Meadows was helping a friend who is a gun dealer replace the stock on the rifle when the military-style firearm went off, Lt. Mike Green said.

As a result of the discharge, concrete fragments were sprayed and caused superficial wounds to Allen’s face, city officials said. He was treated and released from Lewis-Gale Medical Center on the same day.

Allen faces up to 12 months in jail or a $2,500 fine or both if convicted.

Loaded firearms are not permitted at the gun show. An employee with the event promoter, C&E Gun Shows, checked guns at the entrance to make sure they were not loaded, said Carey Harveycutter, Salem’s director of civic facilities.

“The weapon in question did not come in through the front door of the civic center,” he said.

The rifle was brought in by one of the gun dealers, he said.

“The dealers are expected to come with all their guns checked,” Salem spokesman Mike Stevens said.

A Salem police officer and a lieutenant worked to secure the event, and a Virginia State Police sergeant and trooper were also at the civic center.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said event promoters are in charge of coordinating security procedures at private gun shows. State police are notified about gun shows so the Firearms Transaction Center is ready to handle the volume of criminal background checks.

Event promoters may request to have state police officers at gun shows.

Robert Steven Elliot, president of C&E Gun Shows, could not be reached for comment Monday. The next gun show hosted by the company at the Salem Civic Center is scheduled for September.

Between four and five years ago, there was another accident involving a firearm at the civic center, but no one was injured. A gun was being checked at the start of the show to ensure that it was empty and it accidentally went off, Stevens said.

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