Earlier this month, a military veteran and climate change alarmist named Omar Gonzalez scaled the White House perimeter fence, sprinted across the lawn, and penetrated the building. We’re only belatedly finding out that he was not stopped just inside the White House doors, either, but ran over a Secret Service agent penetrated deeply into the building, and wasn’t finally captured until he was in the East Room.
He could have just as easily turned and taken the stairway up to the First Family’s living quarters.
Gonzalez was armed with a pocket knife when a Secret Service counterassault team member finally tackled him just before he reached the Green Room.
As terrifying as the security breach was, it could have been far worse.
The First Family had left the White House moments before, and so they weren’t in the building when Gonzalez breached security, and so they weren’t—by a matter of minutes—in any real danger.
It is also disconcerting that while Gonzalez was “only” armed with a knife—like Oklahoma City Islamist beheading suspect Alton Nolan—he had only recently been arrested in Virginia in July and stripped of multiple rifles, four pistols, and a revolver. While it is very likely that Secret Service snipers would have shot him down on the lawn if he breached the perimeter carrying a long gun or brandishing a handgun, they have a policy of not firing upon fence jumpers that don’t appear to be armed.
If only a few things have gone differently, Gonzalez could have very easily entered the White House with one or more loaded and concealed handguns and rushed the First Family’s quarters while the President, the First Lady, and their daughters were in the residence. It’s terrifying to think that a only dumb luck and a matter of timing kept the President’s personal security detail from being forced into a possible gun battle with Gonzalez within the White House.
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Providing security to the President and the First Family has always been a balancing act.
No President nor member of the First Family wants to be caged, and like all people, they often chafe against the loss of autonomy, privacy, and personal freedom that come with the Office. For this reason, the Secret Service will never be able to provide the level of security they would like to provide.
Perhaps it is past time to consider training and arming the President to carry a concealed weapon as a final layer of self-protection.
While that may seem like an odd suggestion in this day and age, firearms have not always been uncommon in the White House. Many of our past presidents have been soldiers, sport shooters and hunters familiar with firearms. President Eisenhower had a skeet shooting range installed at Camp David that most following office-holders have used, including President Obama. Considering modern terror threats, it only makes sense to provide the President and First Lady at least rudimentary self defense training, concealed carry permits, and concealed carry weapons.
As it so happens, the Washington, D.C. City Council just begrudgingly followed a federal judge’s order, and approved a plan for “may issue” concealed carry permits within the District Of Columbia. While the permitting scheme is extremely restrictive and requires residents of the District to show just cause for a permit, it is likely that the President and First Lady would be able to meet the application threshold for carry within the District.
They should be honored for the opportunity to earn the first and second concealed carry permits issued in the District.
They would, of course, need to apply for and pass courses to obtain permits for the other “may issue” states that do not have reciprocity with other states, and then earn their permits in a state with wide reciprocity, such as North Carolina. Yes, it is a bit silly, but it would be embarrassing for the President and First Lady to get arrested for carrying their guns across state lies, as Shaneen Allen and so many others have accidentally done because Congress has been too lazy to pass a national concealed carry reciprocity law yet.
We can all have our philosophical differences with individual officeholders, but I think it is fair to say that all good Americans want the President and First Family to have multiple layers of protection, up to and including the most personal level.
Yes, Hollywood films such as White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen are far-fetched flights of fantasy.
Then again, until just days ago, so were the thoughts of a single armed man penetrating the White House with a knife.
It’s past time time to get concealed carry for the First Family.