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Exclusive: Sergeant-at-Arms thinks lawmakers shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns inside the Capitol

“I believe that the Capitol complex should be a place where no one carries a gun unless they are actively engaged in law enforcement or protective work being done, among other things, by myself, United States Capitol Police (USCP), United States Secret Service, and protection details for visiting foreign officials,” Walker wrote.

Walker’s comments come a day after a gunman murdered 21 people at a Texas elementary school. Walker’s letter was prompted by an April letter from Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who asked Walker for clarification on whether the US Capitol could be made a “weapons-free zone” except for staff. security.

Firearms are prohibited in the Capitol complex for most individuals, and lawmakers are only permitted to be armed in their offices.

Walker acknowledged in his letter that his position that lawmakers should be banned from carrying guns in general is not a widely held belief.

“Unfortunately, my position on this issue is not shared by all stakeholders,” Walker wrote.

Hoyer praised Walker for his letter, saying in a statement to CNN that Walker made it clear that “dangerous and loaded firearms should only have a place in the Capitol complex in the hands of law enforcement personnel. of the law trained and authorized”.

“I was pleased to receive his letter and to read his determined statement that the Capitol complex and grounds should be considered a weapons-free zone and that members may not carry personal firearms while on duty. ‘outside their offices unless they are unloaded and fully secured for transport,’ Hoyer added.

The issue goes back to a 1967 law. While the law prohibits most individuals from carrying firearms anywhere in the Capitol complex, the Capitol Police Board ruled that “nothing in the provisions” does not prohibit a member of Congress from “holding firearms within the confines of his office” or being transported within the grounds of the Capitol as long as the firearm is “unloaded and securely wrapped” .

The decision on how to proceed rests with the Capitol Police Board, the governing body made up of three voting members, including the House Sergeant-at-Arms, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and the Capitol Architect.

Hoyer’s letter to Walker in April was his third attempt to try to pressure the Capitol Police Board to further restrict gun use around the Capitol.

Hoyer’s continued pressure on the Capitol Police Board and now the House Sergeant-at-Arms comes as gun-carrying exceptions for members have created enormous tension on Capitol Hill, especially in light of the January 6 uprising and with the installation of security checks on the floor of the house.

Rep. GOP Lauren Boebert of Colorado defended his right to carry a gun after he was banned from entering the floor with one last year. In March 2020, GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado released a bold video of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden removing the AR-15 from his office wall. After the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, GOP Representative Madison Cawthorn told a local publication that he was armed during the riot.

“At present, certain aspects of the existing regulations regarding the possession of firearms in the Capitol complex or on its grounds are unclear or ambiguous in the understanding of some deputies, who believe they have the right to carry personal firearms in these spaces, including committee rooms where they are engaged in committee business,” Hoyer wrote to Walker in April.

In response to Hoyer, Walker wrote, “I would like to reiterate my support for making the Capitol Grounds safe for all by further limiting the number of people who carry guns here. I stand ready to work with you as you consider how to make the Capitol Complex a safer space for everyone.”

Walker also informed Hoyer that his office is working on a “multitude of initiatives” to further improve security at the Capitol complex. He shared that the Sergeant-at-Arms Emergency Management Division partnered with the USCP for a variety of emergency drills, including how to respond to an active shooter.

Walker added that strengthening windows and doors is also a priority, along with the possibility of improving security at entry points. He said the Sergeant’s Divisions of Weapons Identification Services and Police Services are looking at how to expand their technologies to also help keep the Capitol complex secure.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify that lawmakers can only be armed in their offices.

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