King: Ban weapons near federal officials attending public events

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants to ban people from carrying weapons within 1,000 feet of federal officials at public events.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said he would propose a bill in the coming weeks that would ban the carrying of guns within that range for the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal judges. 

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King made the announcement accompanied by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for tighter gun restrictions.

The announcement comes after the mass shooting in Arizona that killed six and injured more than a dozen, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Republicans and Democrats have been debating whether to tighten gun restrictions.

In his speech, King said the legislation was not only for the safety of government officials but also to protect the public. He said elected officials are not necessarily more important than the public but by protecting them in this way, the public would feel safer in meeting federal officials at public events.

"The fact is they do represent the people who elect them, and it's essential if we're going to continue to have contact that the public who are at these meetings are ensured of their own safety," King said.

King said the legislation does not contradict views on guns.

"From a conservative perspective, we have to have a stable society, we have to keep crime down," King said. "You cannot do that if the police cannot be assured that illegal guns are not on the street.

"To have a stable society and a safe society, we have to remove illegal guns," King continued.

Mayor Bloomberg said that had there been tighter restrictions on guns, the alleged shooter in the Arizona attack, Jared Lee Laughner, would not have had legal access to a weapon.

“The law says that drug abusers can't buy guns, but even though Jared Loughner was rejected by the military for drug use and arrested on drug charges, he was able to pass a background check and buy a gun," Bloomberg said. "It should be clear to everyone that the system is broken, and it is time for our leaders in Washington to step up and fix it.”

Bloomberg said he did not think the restrictions in King's legislation would hinder the First or Second Amendments.

"That does not take away the First Amendment, it protects it," Bloomberg said. "That does not take away the Second Amendment, I think it protects it"

King said he expected President Obama's full support on passing the legislation.

"I'm not trying to make this a partisan issue in any way," King said. "I'm confident the president will do the right thing and provide the leadership that's needed."