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GOP Rep. Drafting Bill to Let Lawmakers Carry Guns in Capitol

D.C. Gun Ban Ruling
Supreme Court police officer A.J. Mackie stands on the steps of the court in Washington, Thursday June 26, 2008. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert told reporters today that his staff is working on a measure to allow members of Congress to carry concealed weapons in the District of Columbia - including in the Capitol itself.

D.C. laws bar regular people from carrying concealed weapons for self-defense. There are exceptions - they can carry weapons if they are headed to a gun range, for example - but in general weapons must be kept in the home.

Gohmert told reporters it would be a "good thing" if members could carry concealed weapons, noting that he has "friends that walk home from the Capitol. "

"There is some protection in having protection," Gohmert said. He indicated that lawmakers should be able to carry weapons in the Capitol building itself, including on the House floor during debate.

Gohmert did not say if he himself would carry a weapon if the measure passed. But he said he felt scared at times during last year's health care debate, particularly when a stranger screamed at him on the street.

The Texas Republican, who is a strong supporter of gun rights, said he had applied for a conceal carry permit in Texas but stopped short of submitting it. The reason, he said, was that as a judge he saw that arrest warrants of those who had such permits carried warnings that the arrestee was licensed to carry a weapon.

Gohmert also said he did not believe there should be more gun control laws - "certainly not to protect Congress." Members have put forth proposals in the wake of the Tucson shooting Saturday to provide more protection to lawmakers, including a proposal from Republican Rep. Peter King of New York barring people from bringing a weapon within 1,000 feet of a government official.

In the 1830s through 1850s, members of Congress regularly wore weapons on the floor of the House and Senate - and sometimes used them to threaten colleagues.

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