Dec 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Four "concerning" minutes: Capitol Police gun arrest raises security concerns

President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden are seen in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

First lady Jill Biden, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are seen Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda. Photo: Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images

A four-minute delay in the Capitol Police arresting a staffer who brought a gun into a House office building Thursday morning has raised new security concerns that could become part of a committee hearing.

Why it matters: The incident occurred as the building was being locked down for a visit by President Biden. The breach highlights continued vulnerabilities nearly a year after the Jan. 6 insurrection. "We've got a lot of work to do to continue to protect the Capitol," Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told Axios.

  • Ryan, who oversees the Capitol Police as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, said he'd been talking to his staff about a committee hearing on the current state of the Capitol Police before the incident occurred.
  • "This will definitely be included in that," he said.

Between the lines: Congress has faced a series of tumultuous and violent events since Jan. 6, including a car attack in April that left the driver and a Capitol Police officer dead and a bomb threat in August that led to an hours-long standoff.

  • Thursday's incident occurred just hours before the president and Vice President Kamala Harris arrived for a memorial ceremony honoring the late Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.).

Driving the news: A staffer from the House Chief Administrative Office was arrested and charged with carrying a pistol without a license after entering the Longworth House Office Building with the gun, the Capitol Police said.

  • According to a police statement, officers "spotted the image of a handgun in a bag on the x-ray screen" and "the man was tracked down four minutes later and arrested."
  • "The department is looking into what happened before, during and after those four minutes," the statement added.

What they're saying: Ryan told Axios the delay is "concerning."

  • "We're short-staffed, everyone's still burned out, we need to be ramping up and have more technology, more everything," Ryan said.
  • Roughly 130 Capitol Police staff have retired or resigned since Jan. 6, the Capitol Police said Wednesday.
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