Members shouldn't carry weapons, says sergeant at arms

It's not a good idea for lawmakers to carry guns for personal protection in the wake of Saturday's shooting in Arizona, the Senate's sergeant at arms said Tuesday.

Terrance Gainer, the Senate's top law enforcement official and the former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, urged lawmakers to leave their security to professionals following the shooting on Saturday of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

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"I don't think that's a good idea," Gainer said on "Good Morning America" on ABC. "I think we should leave the law enforcement and security to those professionals."

Two lawmakers — Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) — have said they plan on carrying guns when they're in their districts as protection against potential attacks. 

"I've been a policeman for 42 years and I don't think introducing more guns to the situation is helpful," Gainer said.

Giffords and others were shot at a constituent meet-and-greet event on Saturday in Tucson, allegedly by 22-year-old Jared Loughner, who made his first court appearance on Monday on federal charges.

The attempted assassination has sparked a debate on Capitol Hill about lawmakers' security, and how best to protect members when they're back in their districts and states, where they don't routinely receive protection.

On the legislative front, some lawmakers want stricter gun control, while others have said new laws and regulations are needed to curb incendiary speech.

Members of Congress and their staffs will receive briefings from Capitol Police and the sergeants at arms on Wednesday about greater security measures and how to prepare for constituent events like the one at which Giffords was attacked.

Gainer said that, in the case of the Giffords incident, he probably wouldn't have done much more except advise local police to stop by at the meeting and take a look.