Republican Congressman Thomas Massie (R., Ky.) introduced a bill on Thursday that would require Washington, D.C., to honor valid gun-carry permits from other states.
Rep. Massie said the D.C. Personal Protection Reciprocity Act was a direct reaction to last week's attack on Republican congressmen at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., which left four injured.
"After the horrific shooting at the Republican Congressional Baseball practice, there will likely be calls for special privileges to protect politicians," Rep. Massie said in a statement. "Our reaction should instead be to protect the right of all citizens guaranteed in the Constitution: the right to self-defense. I do not want to extend a special privilege to politicians, because the right to keep and bear arms is not a privilege, it is a God-given right protected by our Constitution."
Massie said if it were not for Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey, who were only on duty at the baseball practice due to the presence of Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.), the attack would likely have had a far worse outcome.
"If not for the heroic efforts of the United States Capitol Police at the ball field yesterday, things could have been much worse," Rep. Massie said. "What's always evident in these situations is this: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. To ensure public safety, we need to repeal laws that keep good guys from carrying guns, since not everyone has a personal police detail. The right to keep and bear arms is the common person's first line of defense in these situations, and it should never be denied."
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R., Ga.), who was at the baseball field when the attack took place but survived unscathed, told a group of reporters on Wednesday that while the Capitol Police acted in a heroic way to stop the shooter, things need to change. He said if the attack had happened back in his home state of Georgia, he or his staff may have been armed and able to help stop the attack themselves.
"There are several things to look at," Rep. Loudermilk said. "If this had happened in Georgia, he wouldn't have gotten too far. I had a staff member who was in his car, maybe 20 yards behind the shooter. Back in Georgia [he] carries a nine millimeter in his car. I carry a weapon. He had a clear shot at him. But here, we're not allowed to carry any weapons here.
"We aren't any more special than anybody else, but we're targets. This is exactly why there's a lot of fear of doing town halls at this point."
Both congressmen pointed out that while Virginia, where the shooting took place, does honor the gun-carry permits of other states, it is difficult for those traveling between Virginia and D.C. to legally carry a firearm, since D.C. does not currently honor any other state's gun-carry permits. D.C. also has some of the nation's strictest laws on the possession of handguns. Legally transporting a handgun between Virginia and D.C. is a complicated process, especially if you are not a D.C. resident.
"Although Virginia extends reciprocity to concealed-carry permit holders in many states, the members of Congress and accompanying staff traveled directly from D.C. and were traveling back to D.C after the practice was over," Rep. Massie's office said. "It was D.C.'s harsh gun-control laws that prevented these law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to bear arms."
The D.C. City Council still refuses to honor gun-carry permits from any state. The Constitution, however, gives Congress the power to override the City Council and pass its own laws governing gun carry within the city. Although legislation is often offered in Congress to override the city's restrictive gun laws, Congress has rarely stepped in to impose its will on the city in the past.
The bill currently has 21 cosponsors, all Republicans, and is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.