The average citizen’s been barred from carrying a firearm in the U.S. Capitol since the 1960’s, but when the House, Senate, and then-president Lyndon B. Johnson passed their gun control law, they carved out an exemption for members of Congress.
Now, more than 50 years later, a group of Democratic House members is trying to stop the practice by imposing a new carry ban that would apply to lawmakers as well as staff and visitors.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the liberals argued that gun-toting lawmakers, rather than boosting security around Capitol Hill, actually compromise the safety of everyone there, particularly because the Capitol Police are in the dark about who is armed and who is not.
Behind Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the Democrats are urging party leaders to adopt a rules change in the next Congress banning firearms for lawmakers and the public alike.
“Ultimately, the current regulations create needless risk for Members of Congress, their staff, members of the Capitol Police, and visitors to the Capitol grounds,” the lawmakers wrote to Pelosi and McCarthy.
The letter was endorsed by other leading congressional gun reformers, including Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), who represent Chicago, where gun violence has spiked in recent years, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who was shot and wounded as a staff member during the 1978 congressional trip to the Jonestown cult settlement in Guyana. Former Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Calif.) and four others were killed in that shooting.
It’s unknown how many current members of Congress currently carry inside the Capitol, but representatives-elect Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Georgia’s Andrew Clyde have both publicly indicated that they plan to do so when they’re sworn in to office in just a few weeks.
Just 21 Democrats have signed on to Huffman’s letter, but with Pelosi’s alleged approval don’t be surprised if the House gun ban is included in the chamber’s list of proposed rules when Congress reconvenes for its next session in early January.
Why the push now, given that lawmakers have been carrying in the U.S. Capitol for decades without issue? I suspect that for anti-gun Democrats like Huffman the news that Boebert, Clyde, and potentially several other freshman members would be armed for their own protection is just a bridge too far. It might be one thing if congresscritters are quietly carrying without drawing attention to themselves, but now that it’s becoming a public issue the Democrats want to crack down.
We’ll be talking more about the Democrats’ gun-ban plans on tomorrow’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co with Colorado congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert, and it promises to be a lively conversation for sure.
Just remember; if these Democrats aren’t okay with their colleagues carrying in the Capitol, there’s no way they truly accept that you and I and the American people have the right to bear our own arms for self-defense. This particular attack may be targeting a congressional rule, but the larger fight is over the Second Amendment itself.