In wake of attack, lawmakers advocate greater right to carry weapons
- The District of Columbia has some of the strictest laws in the country for personal gun use
- In the wake of Rep. Steve Scalise's shooting, some lawmakers want to carry firearms in Washington
Washington (CNN)Following Wednesday's attack on the Republican congressional baseball team, many credited the quick actions of two US Capitol Police officers in preventing a further tragedy. Some GOP lawmakers are calling not only for increased security personnel, but for the right to carry guns themselves.
"The ability to protect ourselves individually, rather than having to rely on someone else is something that I cherish," Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan told CNN. "I would like the opportunity to be able to protect myself as a congressman."
Bergman was on the field in Alexandria, Virginia, for a morning baseball practice when alleged gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire. House Republican whip Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist and a member of the Capitol police force were shot, and at least two others were injured. As of Thursday afternoon, Scalise remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican from New York, said that prior to Wednesday's shooting, he used to carry his handgun on rare occasions. He says he now plans to carry it on him at all times.
"I've had a carry permit for 30 years, and I would say off and on in different instances where I have, you know, felt it was appropriate, I would carry the weapon on myself," Collins said on CNN's New Day. "Certainly in the short term I'm going to go a step beyond just having it in the glove box in my car and I will be carrying."
Washington has some of the nation's most stringent gun laws. Per city regulations, residents must register their guns with the police department. To obtain a concealed carry permit, they must pass extensive background tests and trainings and provide a "good reason" for their need to carry a concealed firearm.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, who was also on the field during the shooting, told reporters that Congress should look into "some kind of reciprocity" for members of Congress with concealed carry permits to use them in Washington.
"If this had happened in Georgia, he wouldn't have gotten too far," he said.
Some GOP lawmakers are seizing upon the idea of "a good guy with a gun" to stop acts of violence to advocate for the ability to arm themselves.
On Facebook Wednesday evening. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky wrote: "What's always evident in these situations is: the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
"We need to repeal laws that keep good guys from carrying guns, since not everyone has a personal police detail," Massie added. "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."
On Thursday, Massie introduced a bill to allow anyone with concealed carry permits in their home states -- not just members of Congress -- to use them in the District of Columbia. It would also allow those who live in states that don't allow concealed carry to apply for a "non-resident permit" while in the nation's capital.
"The irony is that those of us in Congress who don't have police details, we are safer in our home districts where many of us do carry concealed weapons," Massie said on Fox Business.