A Republican lawmaker is allowed to have an AR-15 in his office as long as it isn't loaded, the U.S. Capitol Police said Tuesday after a photo of the rifle caught the attention of law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) last week tweeted a picture of himself and Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.), the leader of the House's Benghazi investigation, holding an AR-15 in a House office building.
The photo raised eyebrows, because Washington is home to some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, including a ban on the AR-15.
But members of Congress are exempted from rules that otherwise prohibit people from having assault weapons, including AR-15s, Capitol Police said.
The District’s gun laws “specifically provide that members of Congress may maintain firearms within the confines of their office and they and any employee or agent of any member of Congress may transport within the Capitol Grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider told The Hill.
Earlier Tuesday, the D.C. attorney general’s office referred the AR-15 photo and other materials to the Metropolitan Police Department "for further investigation."
Buck said from the start that he had approval from Capitol Police to bring the inoperable rifle to his office, where it is on display in a locked case.
“I have a very patriotic AR-15 hanging in my office. It hangs directly above my Second Amendment flag,” Buck said.
“While safety protocols call for all guns to be treated as if they are loaded, this one isn't. Further, a close inspection of the only public photo of the rifle will show that the bolt carrier assembly is not in the rifle; it is in fact in Colorado.”
“It is a beautiful, patriotic paper weight,” he added.
While Buck appears likely to avoid an investigation into the firearm, other public figures haven't been so lucky.
Following the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, then-NBC host David Gregory had a dust-up with local authorities after he brought a 30-round high-capacity gun magazine on "Meet the Press,” which is filmed in Washington.
Local police investigated, but eventually decided not to bring charges against Gregory.
A spokesman for the D.C. attorney general reiterated that AR-15s are prohibited in the city, despite the exception for lawmakers.
"It is illegal to possess an AR-15 in the District,” the spokesman said.