Congress members want to carry firearm in D.C.

capitol-night

With the U.S. Capitol complex under heightened security the day after the shooting in Virginia at a practice for Republicans preparing for the Congressional Baseball Game, members of Congress are debating whether it’s time to adopt new security measures.

Among the ideas is permitting members who are allowed to conceal carry a weapon in their home state to carry while they are in the nation’s capital.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, favors the reciprocity proposal, his chief of staff, Connie Hair told WND, as does Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga.

Guns are banned from the Capitol complex, and the District of Columbia has strict gun laws, but that could change in the aftermath of the shooting spree Wednesday by a Bernie Sanders supporter in which House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional aide, a lobbyist and two Capitol Hill Police officers were wounded.

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Loudermilk said Thursday that in addition to reciprocity for members, Congress also should consider security detail.

He said the members of the permanent security detail assigned to Scalise as a member of the House Republian leadership saved lives.

“If Scalise hadn’t been on our team, it would have been really bad,” he told reporters, according to the Washington Examiner.

“We aren’t any more special than anybody else, but we’re targets,” Loudermilk said. “This is exactly why there’s a lot of fear of doing town halls at this point.”

Loudermilk that if the attack Wednesday had happened in Georgia, the perpetrator “wouldn’t have gotten too far.”

“I had a staff member who was in his car, maybe 20 yards behind the shooter … who back in Georgia carries a nine millimeter in his car. I carry a weapon. He had a clear shot at him. But here, we’re not allowed to carry any weapons here. … Most of us are here in D.C., so how are you supposed to have it here?”

In March Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced legislation that would require states to recognize concealed carry permits from other states. A version of the “Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” previously was introduced in the House by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C.

On Thursday, top officials were getting increased security as were congressional hearings, and officials were considering canceling staff softball games.

“Everybody here is on edge,” a Senate aide told the Examiner. “The police are on more edge, everybody’s shook up.”

The shooting Wednesday morning was the second incident of gun violence targeting a Congress member in the last six years, after former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head at a constituent event in her district.

‘I will be carrying’

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., announced Thursday he plans to carry a gun with him from now on, The Hill reported

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

“You look at the vulnerability. I can assure you, from this day forward, I have a carry permit, I will be carrying when I’m out and about,” Collins told local ABC affiliate WKBW in Buffalo, N.Y.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the third-ranking House Democrat, said, according to The Hill, he wants lawmakers to have more access to security measures.

“For us to have a rule … that you can’t have security cameras in your offices unless you pay for them with your campaign — I just found that out this morning — or you can’t have security stuff in your homes?” Clyburn said. “I can’t tell you how many threats I’ve had against my home. In fact, I’ve had state police staying at home with my family.”

Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., said he told House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., he wants legislation for new security measures put on “hyper drive.”

“Many of us receive threats,” he said. “And it’s not that we get used to it. You’ve just got to hope and pray that people don’t follow up on those threats, but at any given moment they could, like we saw this morning.”

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the manager of the Republican baseball team, said, however, that members of Congress must “assume a certain risk.”

“It’s sad. We shouldn’t be targeted personally. I hope this was not a targeted attack, but we live in a democracy and there are a lot of bad, bad folks out there,” Barton said.

Leaving the fortress

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has been the target of numerous explicit threats of violence, also is urging a security upgrade for Congress members, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah

A Florida man is awaiting trial for threatening to lynch Chaffetz.

“I feel very safe and secure at the Capitol,” Chaffetz said Wednesday. “We work in a fortress with literally thousands of people to protect us, but once we leave the Capitol, it’s a whole different equation.”

Chaffetz wants U.S. marshals to be charged with assessing threats against members of Congress and securing them in more high-profile and widely attended events.

In March, Charles Zachary Howard, of Winter Park, Fla., was charged with a federal felony of threatening to injure when he left a voicemail vowing to “hunt your a– down, wrap a rope around your neck and hang you from a lamppost,” according to court records.

“I suggest you prepare for the battle, motherf—– and the apocalypse,” Howard said.

Another Utah congressman, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, was threatened by a military veteran from the East Coast who had been arrested in Utah recently and was irate that Stewart and his staff did not get him out of jail, according to Stewart’s office, the Tribune reported. Capitol Police investigated the incident but no charges apparently have been filed.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is third in line for the presidency as the Senate president pro tempore, has around-the-clock security detail, the Salt Lake paper noted.

Hatch took to the Senate floor Wednesday to thank by name each of the 23 agents who protect him and his wife, Elaine.

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