California Congressman Jared Huffman is reviving his attempt to ban members of Congress from carrying inside the U.S. Capitol, weeks after House Democrats failed to include his proposed ban in their House rules for the current session. Since then we’ve seen the storming of the U.S. Capitol, the installation of magnetometers outside the House chamber, and several Republican House members accused of attempting to carry inside the chamber itself.
On Thursday Huffman unveiled the No Congressional Gun Loophole Act, which would remove the exemption for members of Congress from the ban on firearms at the U.S. Capitol that’s been in place since the late 1960s.
“When I brought this up with colleagues in the past, most were surprised to know that members could do whatever they wanted with guns,” Huffman said in an interview. “But I think there has been a false sense of security that nothing bad would happen. The events of recent days have totally changed that.”
Lawmakers are exempt from the ban on carrying guns on the Capitol grounds because of Capitol Police regulations that began in 1967. They may keep guns in their offices and can transport them within the complex if the weapons are “unloaded and securely wrapped.” But they cannot bring guns into the House and Senate chambers.
So far nearly three dozen Democrats have signed on in support of Huffman’s legislation, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled her support as well. Republicans, on the other hand, have already objected to Huffman’s previous attempt to prevent them from carrying, and so far the bill has failed to attract a single GOP co-sponsor. Even some Democrats have spoken out in opposition to the proposed ban.
Some red-state Democrats have signaled opposition to barring members from carrying guns. Representative Vicente Gonzalez, Democrat of Texas, does not carry guns in the Capitol but has said he supported colleagues who do.
There is a clear history of members of Congress being targeted with violence,” he wrote on Twitter last month. “And if we want to carry for an added layer of protection, we should be able to do so.”
As I’ve said previously, I don’t see the issue of Congressional Carry as a true Second Amendment issue. I’ve yet to hear any member of Congress argue that the public should be allowed to carry inside the Capitol. Instead, those members of Congress objecting to Huffman’s proposal are fighting for their privilege to do so.
I don’t object to that fight, and in fact, I believe that members of Congress should be able to carry in the Capitol building. I also believe, however, that their staffers should be able to carry along with every other legal gun owner who works in or visits the Capitol grounds.
Realistically, though, that idea isn’t going come to fruition anytime soon, and I doubt Huffman’s proposed carry ban for congresscritters is going to get to Joe Biden’s desk either. There very well may be enough Democratic votes to defeat the measure in the House if Republicans are unified in opposition, but even if it were to pass the House I don’t see ten Republican senators signing on to the gun ban effort.
If Democrats are really intent on getting rid of Congressional Carry, they could always try to include the ban in a budget bill or tack it on as an amendment to must-pass legislation, but honestly, I’m more concerned about the Democrats’ attempts to impose gun control on the American people than I am about their efforts to effect a gun ban for congresscritters on Capitol Hill.