As part of the increased security at the U.S. Capitol in the wake of last week’s riots, Capitol Police installed a pair of walk-through metal detectors outside the entrance to the House chamber on Tuesday, but the devices have been met with objections by several Republicans in the House.
Newly elected Rep. Lauren Boebert from Colorado, for example, who’s been vocal about her plans to carry inside the Capitol and on the streets of D.C. (she has received her D.C. carry license), refused to let Capitol Police look through her purse after she set off the metal detector Tuesday afternoon.
After about 10 minutes, she was eventually let in and argued against a House resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare President Donald Trump unable to complete his term, which ends next week.
Referring to allegations she put lawmakers at risk during the Capitol siege by tweeting information about Pelosi’s location, Boebert said in her message to Colorado Politics: “It is also quite ironic that some have taken my tweets out of context to falsely accuse me of endangering Speaker Pelosi, that she now telegraphs to the entire world that Members of Congress cannot defend themselves in the House Chamber.”
Boebert added: “As I have said in previous statements, I will comply with all applicable firearm laws and regulations. I want to again thank the brave men and women of the Capitol Police for their service and for keeping us safe.”
Capitol rules allow members of Congress to carry inside the complex, but they’re are not supposed to bring their firearms into the House or Senate chambers. At least, that’s what has been reported for weeks. The House sergeant-at-arms, however, said on Tuesday that House members were told that they must keep their firearms in their office, which is the first time I’ve heard that rule change announced.
“Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber,” Blodgett wrote.
Still, a group of GOP lawmakers ignored the new security measures. Matt Fuller, a HuffPost reporter, tweeted that he witnessed about a dozen Republicans walk around the magnetometer, including Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and Rep. Randy Weber (R-Tex.). A handful barreled through, even if they set off the alarm, he reported.
Things got a little testy Tuesday evening as more House members tried to enter the chamber without going through the magnetometers that had been set up.
Rep. Rodney Davis told Mullin not to shout at Capitol Police, and he said: “This is not their fault, they’re doing their job.”
But Davis, who is the top Republican on House Admin, told me: “I’m pissed” that the mags have gone up without any consultation.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 13, 2021
House Democrats, of course, are defending the new metal detectors, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeting on Tuesday evening ““Now they know how HS students in my district feel.”
I understand why the Republican House members are ticked off about this, but I hope they understand that most Americans aren’t going to be too sympathetic to their plight. Yes, this is security theater, and it comes at a time when some Democrats are claiming they feel unsafe around their GOP colleagues, which (to me anyway) makes this a form of political theater as well.
Still, I’m guessing the magnetometers outside of the House chamber just aren’t going to be a big issue for most people, who are far more concerned about the unsteady economy, the possibility of more civil unrest, and even the prospect of $2000 stimulus checks than they are about members of Congress having to walk through a metal detector.
On the House floor, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) blasted the metal detectors, calling them an “atrocity” and “appalling.”
“Take note, America,” Steube said. “This is what you have to look forward to in the Joe Biden administration.”
Calling the magnetometers an “atrocity” is some first-class hyperbole on the part of Rep. Stuebe, but I suppose this could be seen as just a very small taste of what’s to come for the rest of us; executive orders, administrative actions, and legislative attempts to target tens of millions of legal gun owners that are sure to be introduced in the next few months.