Dem leader Hoyer calls for update on policy regarding guns on Capitol grounds

House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is calling for an update on and review of policies regarding the carrying of firearms on Capitol grounds.

“The presence of deadly firearms only raises the dangers of a violent incident, an accidental discharge, or some other preventable tragedy,” Hoyer claimed in a letter to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Karen Gibson, House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker, Capitol Architect Brett Blanton and Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, The Hill reported.

“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,” the letter added.

“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,” he wrote, noting further that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “already took action to ban firearms in the Hall of the House.”

In addition, the Democratic leader also referenced incidents including the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as well as “heinous threats made by certain Members against colleagues while on the grounds of the Capitol” as among the reasons he is requesting a review of safety policies he proposed in the letter.

Lawmakers are not subjected to most security screenings at the Capitol Building. However, they are required to pass through a magnetometer before entering the actual House chamber, which Pelosi ordered installed following the Jan. 6 incident to prevent members from bringing in firearms.

That said, congressmen and congresswomen are allowed to keep firearms in their offices or transport them elsewhere on Capitol grounds.

In January, Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican from Hoyer’s state of Maryland, nearly brought a concealed handgun into the House chamber but it was discovered during a security screening.

Previously, Hoyer has called for stricter gun regulations contained in the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which the House passed in March.

“Nine out of 10 Americans support the reforms in this bill. That includes a majority of Republicans and a majority of responsible gun owners,” Hoyer claimed at the time. “This is one of the greatest examples of legislation that truly reflects the will of the American people.”

While she wasn’t mentioned specifically, Hoyer’s letter could be directed, in part, at Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) who made it a point earlier this year after winning her seat in November she wanted to carry a concealed firearm on Capitol grounds.

In January before being sworn in, Boebert scored an early victory by persuading the incoming Democratic leadership to preserve a decades-old rule that exempted lawmakers from Washington, D.C.’s ban on concealed carry of firearms.

“If Members can’t carry on Capitol grounds, they can’t protect themselves in D.C. while making their way to and from their offices to perform their official duties. The ‘last-mile’ transition of self-protection is critical. The current regulations provide transitional coverage once the Member is physically on campus,” she said in a letter to House Democratic leaders that was signed by 83 current and incoming Republican lawmakers.

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Jon Dougherty

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