Issues

Congress Pushes Bill to Let Lawmakers Carry Concealed Weapons Anywhere in U.S.

Bill to boost security for members after Alexandria shooting

A U.S. Capitol Police officer stands guard in front of the U.S. Capitol Building
A U.S. Capitol Police officer stands guard in front of the U.S. Capitol Building / Getty Images

Congress is considering new legislation that would permit lawmakers to carry a concealed firearm wherever they perform official duties across the United States, according to a copy of the new bill that marks an unprecedented effort to help lawmakers confront a growing threat to their safety.

Rep. Brian Babin (R., Texas) introduced the legislation on Tuesday, about a week after a radicalized shooter opposed to President Donald Trump and Republicans shot Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.), a congressional staffer, a lobbyist, and two Capitol police officers in Virginia.

The legislation would enable certified members of Congress to carry a concealed weapon "in nearly every conceivable scenario," according to information released by Babin's office.

The legislation would supersede any other state or federal concealed carry laws, meaning that lawmakers would still enjoy the privilege even if secondary laws state otherwise. This is particularly significant, as the District of Columbia has notoriously strict gun laws that have complicated similar efforts in the past.

Members of Congress would be able to carry a concealed firearm in "federal parks and buildings, the national mall, to and from their offices, at schools and military bases" with just "a few limited restrictions," according to Babin's office.

"The tragic events of last week make it clearer than ever that we need to take steps to enable Members of Congress to protect themselves," Babin said in a statement. "We also know that an even greater tragedy was averted only because of the brave actions by two armed Capitol Police special agents who happened, mercifully, to be on site."

Babin maintains the bill "would ensure rank and file Members of Congress have the opportunity to defend themselves by providing them the ability to concealed carry in nearly every scenario with only a few restrictions."

It is a direct response to the increased threat posed to federal lawmakers.

"With the increase in security threats to Members of Congress and our staffs, this is an important and necessary step that we must take," Babin said.

Lawmakers would be granted the ability to qualify for a concealed carry permit, through home-state training or through the Capitol Police, according to the bill.

The U.S. Capitol Police also would be granted the discretion to determine proper training, licensing, and the parameters of use.

Members of Congress would be permitted to pay for the training out of their own allowance funds, according to the bill.