Lauren Boebert, a Republican who was elected in 2020 to represent the Third Congressional District of Colorado, has declared her intention to carry her Glock in the Capitol building. This practice will be nothing new, thanks to a rule enacted in 1967, though the D.C. chief of police would like a word with Boebert regarding the laws that govern the capital city.
Washington, D.C. has some of the worst gun laws in the nation, even after having been smacked down by the Supreme Court over the city’s de facto ban on legal handgun ownership, and there is a regular trickle of cases in which visitors from the rest of the country get arrested for possessing firearms without having secured permission first, so the caution from the chief of police is of general application, and a lot of people confuse capitol and capital in any case. I would like to think that someone who gets elected to be the voice of a congressional district in the House of Representatives would already be informed on these matters, but given the typical performance of members of Congress these days — of both parties — I cannot be hopeful.
And yet… Boebert’s declaration came prior to the invasion of the Capitol building on the 6th of January. The elements of the Capitol police who were not complicit with the terrorists evacuated members of the House and Senate and their staffs, but that is more due to the disorganized nature of the mob than to any tactical competence of security people. The invaders were a swarm of the id, much like what I would expect in a zombie movie, and from current information, it does not appear that they had any plan beyond dumping a shit on the seat of democratic government.
Contrary to what Jeff Cooper used to say about what the principal should do even with bodyguards, people who have security officers protecting them have made the agreement that they will let those officers — agents who have trained together and developed plans for addressing threats — handle the situation. I can understand why members of the Capitol police or Secret Service details would prefer the politicians under their protection to be unarmed so as not to introduce another random element in the situation.
And yet… Under most circumstances, members of Congress do not have round-the-clock security unless they have received a specific threat deemed credible and sufficient. Charles Sumner was beaten to near death on the Senate floor in the lead-up to the attempt by southern states to leave the union, and we are playing with similar fire today. If someone wanted to target Boebert or her colleagues and is capable of remaining quiet about it, that danger would be real and would reveal itself too late for security people to address — just as is the case with any other person in this country. Boebert has expressed her support for gun rights, but carrying in the Capitol building when most of us would not be allowed to do so can look a lot like the “rules for thee but not for me” stance that is all too common among those who presume to lead us.
As a general rule, I support treating members of Congress — and other politicians as well — in the same way that we treat the public with regard to rights and benefits. We should all have the same healthcare that representatives and senators enjoy, and they should be able to defend themselves in the same way that we are. I do wish that Boebert had not tweeted in response to the assault on the Capitol building that “today is 1776,” given the context that the attackers were acting on behalf of a fascist president, and as a symbol, she might do better to choose an American gun — the M1911, for example — over an Austrian design. And I would recommend a training program with the Capitol police on the particular concerns in the building that they protect. I would like to think that this is one place where security can be provided with reasonable certainty, but the events of the 6th are a dose of realism.
I do not know what Boebert’s honest positions are with regard to individual rights, but performance art has its place. Now if only she and her party would also repudiate the authoritarianism that has infected the right in recent decades, that would be even more helpful.