GOP lawmaker proposes allowing guns on Capitol grounds

Getty Images

One of the most prominent conservatives in the House is proposing that lawmakers and staffers be allowed to carry guns in the Capitol complex.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) filed the amendment to the annual spending bill for legislative branch operations, which is expected to get a vote on the House floor later this week.

It’s unclear whether King’s amendment will get a vote. Unlike with most other annual appropriations bills, the legislative branch measure has been considered under a limited amendment process in recent years, wherein House GOP leaders decide which proposals get floor time.

{mosads}Capitol Hill staffers and tourists occasionally find trouble when attempting to bring firearms — intentionally or not — into the Capitol complex. In March, Capitol Police shot a man who allegedly took out a gun and pointed it at officers as he tried to enter the Capitol Visitor Center.

In 2014, an aide to Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) was arrested after trying to enter the Cannon House Office Building with a pistol without a license. The staffer claimed he didn’t intend to bring the gun to the Capitol.

At least one lawmaker keeps a gun in his office — but for decor purposes. Displayed on a wall in Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) office is an AR-15 rifle emblazoned with the American flag. However, it is kept secured and unloaded. 

Only in the past century have guns been prohibited in the Capitol. Congress did not pass legislation making possession of guns in the Capitol a felony until 1967, amid anti-Vietnam War protests. 

Before departing for the Memorial Day holiday recess two weeks ago, an Energy Department spending bill collapsed on the House floor due in large part to the adoption of a Democratic amendment that enforced a 2014 executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.

Between conservatives who objected to that amendment’s inclusion and Democrats who opposed spending levels in the underlying bill, the legislation didn’t have enough votes to pass.

Other amendments submitted to the legislative branch appropriations bill include proposals from Democrats to withhold funds for the select committees investigating the Benghazi attack and abortion practices. Neither are expected to be greenlighted for votes by GOP leaders.

In addition, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) reprised his amendment prohibiting LGBT discrimination that caused GOP division in the Energy Department appropriations bill, as well as a Department of Veterans Affairs spending measure last month. He was able to force votes on his amendment twice last month because of the open process used to consider those spending bills that allows unlimited amendments.

But since GOP leaders have control over the amendment process for the legislative branch measure, Maloney’s amendment is unlikely to get another vote this time.

King also filed another amendment that would prohibit the Capitol complex from allowing people to use bathrooms that don’t correspond with their biological sex assigned at birth, a measure that mirrors North Carolina’s controversial transgender bathroom law. His amendment may not get a vote either if GOP leaders want to avoid another House floor debate over LGBT rights.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video