GOP rep proposes allowing lawmakers to carry guns after baseball shooting

GOP rep proposes allowing lawmakers to carry guns after baseball shooting
© Greg Nash

A Republican lawmaker introduced legislation on Tuesday to allow trained members of Congress to carry guns for self-defense in the wake of last week’s shooting at a GOP baseball practice.

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) wants to ensure all lawmakers can qualify for concealed-carry permits that could be used in any state, regardless of local laws.

"The tragic events of last week make it clearer than ever that we need to take steps to enable members of Congress to protect themselves," Babin said in a statement. "With the increase in security threats to members of Congress and our staffs, this is an important and necessary step that we must take."

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A gunman opened fire last Wednesday at the Republican congressional baseball team’s early-morning practice in Alexandria, Va., and shot four people, including House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseKey House chairman floats changes to immigration bill Scalise: FBI needs to stop ‘running around on witch hunts’ House rejects farm bill as conservatives revolt MORE (R-La.).
 
Lawmakers have acknowledged that had it not been for the presence of Scalise’s Capitol Police security detail, who were able to fire back at the gunman, the scene could have turned into a massacre.

Under Babin’s bill, lawmakers could obtain concealed-carry permits either in their home states or through a training program that would be established by the Capitol Police.

Lawmakers could pay for the training and certification through their annual taxpayer-funded representational allowances. 

Members of Congress could carry firearms in most places under the bill, even areas where guns are typically prohibited. That would include federal parks and buildings, the National Mall, lawmakers’ offices, schools and military bases. 

Lawmakers currently face restrictions on carrying guns when they are in Washington. The District of Columbia has strict gun laws, and firearms are prohibited in the Capitol. 

However, lawmakers can transport guns in the Capitol complex if they are unloaded and securely wrapped.

Several Republicans have expressed a desire to expand access to guns in response to last week’s shooting.

Within hours after the incident, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said he planned to regularly carry a gun.

“You look at the vulnerability. I can assure you, from this day forward, I have a carry permit, I will be carrying when I’m out and about,” Collins told local ABC affiliate WKBW in Buffalo, N.Y.

Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHillicon Valley: House Dems release Russia-linked Facebook ads | Bill would block feds from mandating encryption 'back doors' | AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger | FCC hands down record robocall fine | White House launches AI panel Congress can level the playing field for small farmers Lawmakers move to block government from ordering digital ‘back doors’ MORE (R-Ky.) also introduced legislation that would allow people with concealed-carry permits in their home states to possess guns in Washington, D.C.

Massie emphasized during his introduction of the bill that the legislation shouldn't be limited to only members of Congress in response to the baseball shooting.

“To ensure public safety, we need to repeal laws that keep good guys from carrying guns, since not everyone has a personal police detail,” Massie said.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the district's non-voting representative, accused Massie of targeting Washington to advance loosening gun restrictions.

"In the wake of an attack, Representative Massie is shamefully using the District as political fodder to advance the [National Rifle Association]-backed goal of moving toward national concealed carry reciprocity," Norton said in a statement.