Jan. 6 defendant becomes first to face firearms charge under riot law
A defendant in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is the first to face a firearms charge under a riot law making it unlawful to carry a firearm while rioting.
Guy Wesley Reffitt of Texas was arrested in January after his wife told the FBI that he threatened to shoot their family if they turned him in.
Reffitt pleaded not guilty in March to obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; as well as obstruction of justice by hindering communication through physical force or threat of physical force.
In a superseding indictment on Wednesday, he was issued the additional charge of having a firearm with him at the Capitol.
The charge states that while at the Capitol, Reffitt “without lawful authority to do so, and during and in relation to the offense, did use and carry a deadly and dangerous weapon and firearm, that is, a semi-automatic handgun.”
Reffitt was seen in a video posted to YouTube wearing a blue jacket over a black tactical-style vest and a black helmet with a camera attached.
Prosecutors wrote in a court filing in March that he said he brought his firearm and had it on him when he stormed the Capitol. He said he had “every constitutional right to carry a weapon and take over the Congress.”
Hundreds of people have been arrested in connection with the riot that led to five deaths.
According to a log of Capitol riot arrests from the Justice Department, three other defendants have been charged with firearms offenses. But these charges have to do with unlawful possession of firearms and other weapons.
For example, Lonnie Coffman of Alabama was charged with 17 counts of gun charges. He allegedly brought guns, bombs and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to the Capitol with a list of “good guys” and “bad guys.”
However, as The Washington Post noted, many defendants discussed bringing firearms with them to D.C., but it is unclear how many actually carried firearms.