As law enforcement and media agencies release more information about the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, lawmakers are getting a better sense of how close some of the rioters came to finding their quarry – and some congresspeople have decided to take their personal safety into their own hands.
Multiple representatives have expressed gratitude that they were armed when rioters stormed the building or have made plans to arm up in preparation for future attacks.
“The next member who argues Congressmen shouldn’t be allowed to carry firearms at work needs to be laughed out of the Capitol. Several of us were glad to be armed while barricaded for hours in our offices with our staff,” Rep. Thomas Massie said on Twitter.
The next member who argues Congressmen shouldn’t be allowed to carry firearms at work needs to be laughed out of the Capitol. Several of us were glad to be armed while barricaded for hours in our offices with our staff. https://t.co/faxRlAt6xw— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) January 8, 2021
Freshman South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace told WCJL that she plans to carry a firearm on Capitol Hill moving forward.
“I felt personally like a sitting duck,” Mace said, referring to the riot. “We didn’t have a way to protect ourselves; we didn’t have security on us; we didn’t have firearms protecting us.”
“I will not be put in that situation again,” she concluded.
Even before the attack at the Capitol, Mace was in the process of obtaining her concealed carry license, according to a December 31 Facebook post.
In addition to Mace and Massie, freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn has said he was carrying a firearm at the Capitol, and freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert vowed during her campaign to carry her Glock while on the Hill.
A 1967 law exempted members of Congress from adhering to the same rules that prevent members of the public from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds. Before the attack at the Capitol, two California congresspeople had introduced a bill that would rescind that law and prohibit elected representatives from carrying firearms. Prompted by Rep. Boebert’s public comments about her Glock, other representatives had also expressed discomfort with their colleagues carrying firearms.
Their comments have not aged well:
- “Today, the Capitol is one of the most fortified and secure places on Earth, including heavily armed, specially trained Capitol Police all over the place,” said Rep. Jared Huffman in a Facebook post. “Even the most paranoid member of Congress could not justify why they need guns at work. Yet some members insist on it.”
- “Statistics show that accidents happen when there are firearms around. The existing exemption for Representatives increases the risk of gun violence for Members, staff, and the public. It’s long past time we close the Member loophole and protect all who enter the Capitol complex,” Rep. Jackie Speier said in a press release.
- Rep. Tom Suozzi told Axios the idea of bringing guns into the Capitol is “absurd.”
- “We’re in a very secure area of this Capitol,” Rep. Ruben Gallego told Axios. “I think it’s more for making a political statement than a personal security, and I think this is not the place for that.”
GunsAmerica reached out to each representative listed above asking whether recent events have caused them to rethink their position. None have responded.
Under current House leadership, gun-carrying members may find themselves in trouble if they try to take firearms onto the House floor. Carrying firearms on the House and Senate floor was already prohibited, but metal detectors were installed last week to ensure compliance from members.
Rep. Boebert reportedly clashed with Capitol Police last Tuesday when she set off one of the detectors and refused to let officers look through her purse.