Hoyer Seeks Review of Firearms Rules on US Capitol Grounds
WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer asked the Capitol Police Board on Tuesday to update Congressional leadership on the current status of firearms rules within the U.S. Capitol Complex, and to consider an outright ban on guns in committee rooms, hearing rooms and other public areas.
Hoyer’s action comes less than a week after a Hill staffer, Jeffrey Allsbrooks, was able to walk into the Longworth House Office Building with a loaded Glock 19 9mm handgun in a bag he passed through security.
Allsbrooks, a logistics manager with the House Chief Administrative Office, was arrested eight minutes later, and was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of unregistered ammunition and possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device.
He told the officers he simply forgot the gun was in the bag.
In addition, a number of members of Congress, most notably freshman Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, have repeatedly asserted their right to carry a gun in the Capitol this past year.
Last January, in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol by insurrectionists loyal to former President Donald Trump, metal detectors were installed to screen members coming and going from the House floor.
“Effective immediately, all persons, including members, are required to undergo security screening when entering the House Chamber,” an announcement of the new policy said a week before President Joe Biden’s inauguration. “Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber.”
On Jan. 13, Boebert was involved in an incident at a security station at a door to the House of Representatives chambers.
The metal detector alarms sounded as she tried to pass through them. She refused to allow her bag to be inspected by Capitol Police, who then blocked her from entering the House chambers.
Although she was allowed into the chambers for a vote later, she apparently was not carrying a gun. Boebert implied in a tweet that she was carrying a gun during the earlier incident with police.
“I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C., and within the Capitol complex,” Boebert wrote at the time. “Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week — it’s just another political stunt by Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi.”
In a letter to the Capitol Police Board, Hoyer said, “I have heard from a number of members and staff who are greatly concerned about the lack of clarity about rules that permit members of Congress to carry personal firearms in their offices.”
“Too often we have seen instances in which members have claimed that it is permissible to carry firearms (and, indeed, have admitted that they were in possession of firearms) elsewhere on Capitol Hill, including committee and hearing rooms, which under current regulations is prohibited,” he continued.
“No matter who possesses these weapons and how well trained they are in their safe personal use, their very presence in these spaces makes them less safe to all, especially to the U.S. Capitol Police officers who are already under enormous pressure to protect the premises,” Hoyer said.
“The presence of deadly firearms only raises the dangers of a violent incident, an accidental discharge, or some other preventable tragedy. That is why it is essential that rules and regulations regarding where personal firearms may or may not be carried must be communicated clearly to members,” he concluded.
The board, which consists of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Doorkeeper Karen Gibson; House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker; Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton; and Ex-Officio Board Member Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, is currently conducting a review of current regulations and seeking ways to update those that are no longer sufficient.
“I hope that, as the board continues to identify other ways to maintain the highest levels of safety on Capitol Hill, you will consider ensuring that committee rooms, hearing rooms, and other areas of public gathering will always be firearm-free,” Hoyer said.
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