ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek extreme far-right lawmaker who wanted to travel with his licensed handgun on a domestic flight drew unwanted attention after the firearm accidentally went off during check-in procedures Thursday. Police said nobody was hurt in the incident in a secluded area of Athens International Airport.
But the gaffe drew broad condemnation from mainstream parties and prompted a quick government decision to review all gun licenses granted to members of Parliament. About 50 of Greece's 300 lawmakers have such permits, in a country where legal gun ownership is uncommon and strictly regulated.
Authorities said Thursday's accident occurred in an office away from the busy airport's public areas, as Golden Dawn lawmaker Antonis Gregos was handing over the gun to airline officials. Police have ordered an investigation into how a round was apparently left in the chamber after the ammunition clip was removed.
Nationalist and anti-immigrant Golden Dawn, which rejects the neo-Nazi label attached to it by mainstream parties and international rights groups, holds 18 of Parliament's 300 seats. More than a dozen of its lawmakers are believed to hold gun permits, although police have declined to issue full details, citing security concerns.
A party lawmaker has been accused of trying to pull a handgun as he was being restrained by police guards after allegedly trying to punch the mayor of Athens this month.
A police official told the Associated Press that authorities will now re-examine all politicians' gun permits to see why they were initially issued, what security concerns were cited and whether they are valid.
"They will also check whether the necessary psychiatric documentation has been submitted," the official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to the media on the record. "And obviously the behavior of each lawmaker will play a part — that is whether they were involved in incidents where they threatened to use a gun or made intimidating moves."
The incident follows a heated debate over gun-packing politicians, which prompted Parliament to forbid its members to enter the building armed.
"You can't have lawmakers who are loony, fascists, populists or idiots walking through (Parliament) with guns," conservative member of Parliament Fotini Pipili argued before the ban was imposed.
The Socialist Pasok party, a minority partner in Greece's conservative-led governing coalition, said it was a matter of luck that nobody was injured in Thursday's incident.
"Golden Dawn's guns have their safety catches off and are ready to shoot anyone," a party statement said.
The main opposition Syriza Radical Left Coalition called for an end "to the unchecked behavior of fascist groups."
Golden Dawn didn't immediately issue a statement about the incident. The previously-marginal party won nearly 7 percent of the vote in national elections last year, riding a wave of anti-immigrant and anti-establishment sentiment amid a depressed economy and record-high unemployment.
Debt-heavy Greece has imposed resented income cuts and tax hikes over the past three years to secure international rescue loans shielding it from bankruptcy.