If U.S. Representatives won’t protect their own right to carry a firearm, do you think they’ll protect yours?
The importance of the right to preserve one’s own life was on full display Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. During a protest by thousands of Americans who came from all over the country, several hundred rioters went into the Capitol building.
They broke windows, fought with police, and while one seems to have stolen the House lectern, another got high in the Capitol Rotunda. A Capitol police officer later died from undisclosed causes after the fracas, while an unarmed woman was killed by a Capitol security officer who shot her through a door.
Three other protestors were killed in the fray.
Many members of Congress and their staff were stuck in the Capitol until early the next morning. Fortunately, none were injured or killed.
But what if they had faced a more organized incursion with lethal intent?
If the job of the Capitol police was to maintain order, they failed miserably, despite the hundreds of millions spent on Capitol security and a strict gun-free zone for the general public.
Historically, most members of Congress don’t have the gumption to speak up for Second Amendment rights.
But what about their own safety? Don’t they want to protect themselves?
That is actually a trick question. They mostly rely on several layers of law enforcement.
In the Capitol, there is a Capitol Complex police force, DC police, and members in leadership even have a 24/7 security detail.
But this level of protection is unachievable for most Americans. Carrying a firearm is an afterthought to many members of Congress. If they are protected by armed guards, taking on the responsibility for personal protection moves much further down the “to-do” list.
Enter Republican Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado and the Freshman class of the 117th Congress. Many of these incoming Members place a high value on the right to bear arms and want to be responsible for their own protection – like most Americans.
Congresswoman Boebert has set a very high bar for the incoming class of legislators. Even before being sworn in as a Member of Congress on January 3, 2020, Boebert led 82 Members of the former and incoming class of Congressmen to sign a letter supporting their right to carry a firearm in the Capitol building.
In the letter, Congresswoman Boebert reminded Speaker Pelosi that, “Members of Congress are allowed to carry firearms within the U.S. Capitol Complex.” The laws and regulations that permit this, “have helped protect Members for more than 50 years.”
On the other side, 21 Democratic members of Congress recently sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking that she push for a change in the regulation that permits members to carry firearms in the Capitol complex. Despite there being no known danger from other Representatives, these lawmakers are deeply uncomfortable with their colleagues’ ability to defend themselves.
The letter sent by Congresswoman Boebert and her colleagues is well researched and full of important facts. Two pieces of the letter deserve special attention.
The letter mentions “the last mile” as critical to their personal protection. Essentially, the Capitol is the last mile of their commute to work. If they cannot carry there, then they cannot carry anywhere.
Washington, D.C. does have a concealed carry permitting system, though cumbersome and expensive. But if members cannot carry at work, then they effectively cannot carry anywhere.
As the letter points out, “Washington, D.C. has a violent crime problem and D.C.’s violent crime rate is 158% higher than the national average. In 2020 alone, there have been more than 180 homicides, more than 1,500 assaults with a deadly weapon, and more than 1,800 robberies.”
A second interesting point in the letter quotes directly from the law governing carrying firearms in the Capitol building. It states that “[Members] of Congress, or any employee of a Member of Congress” are exempted from the regulations that might otherwise restrict the general public from carrying firearms.
This means that both Members and their staff may carry firearms.
Why should the public care if members and their staff can carry firearms in the Capitol?
First, we should always be fighting for everyone’s right to protect themselves. Washington is a dangerous city. The Second Amendment and the universal principle of personal protection apply to all Americans. We should fortify the right wherever we can.
There is also something appealing about putting members on the record for how they feel about their own personal safety. It might be interesting to know which elected representatives take the issue seriously and which made it a low priority.
Third, we have all wondered why more isn’t done to undo the decades of dangerous gun control. Many candidates run on preserving the Second Amendment, yet very little is done once they get elected. This is a contradiction that needs to be exposed.
Finally, we circle back to where we started. If they don’t care about their own safety, they won’t care about yours.
This is going to be an interesting Congress. Maybe we can count on them picking a few more good fights on behalf of Americans without a security detail.
Philip Reboli is a former Senate staffer and the Director of Government Affairs at the Conservative Partnership Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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