May 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House sergeant-at-arms: Lawmakers shouldn't be allowed to carry guns in the Capitol

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House sergeant-at-arms William Walker sent a letter Wednesday to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) saying he doesn't think lawmakers should carry firearms inside the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: Walker's letter comes the day after a gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school, killing 19 children and two teachers. It's also been over a year since armed rioters stormed the Capitol and put lawmakers at risk.

Driving the news: "It is my view that the Capitol Complex should be a place where no one carries a firearm unless they are actively engaged in law enforcement or the protection work done by, among others, myself, the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) the U.S. Secret Service, and the protective details of visiting foreign officials," Walker wrote in the letter.

  • "Regrettably, my position on this matter is not shared by all stakeholders."
  • Walker did not immediately return Axios' request for comment.

The other side: Hoyer told CNN that it is clear that "dangerous, loaded firearms should have no place in the Capitol complex other than in the hands of trained and authorized law enforcement personnel."

  • "I was glad to receive his letter and read his determined statement that the Capitol Complex and Grounds ought to be seen as a gun-free zone and clarifying that Members may not carry personal firearms outside their offices unless unloaded and fully secured for transport," Hoyer added.

Flashback: Hoyer wrote to Walker at the end of April asking for a gun policy after Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) tried to bring a firearm through an airport in his home state, per The Hill.

  • Hoyer said there needs to be a “clear and unambiguous policy” about guns at the U.S. Capitol complex.

Context: Firearms are banned at the Capitol Complex for most people, per the Capitol Police.

  • Lawmakers are allowed to carry firearms into office buildings if they are licensed in the D.C., according to CNN. Certain areas, like the House floor, are restricted, though.

The big picture: Lawmakers have differed across party lines on how to enact policies in response to the Texas shooting.

  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) slammed his Congressional colleagues for doing "nothing" to address gun violence.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN that gun control won't help stop gun violence. He faced backlash for his comments.
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