July 21

Why they arrested Ryan Shucard last week, I shall never know. All he did was bring your basic 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun into the U.S. Capitol (actually, the Cannon House Office Building), upon which, in clear violation of what the Founders intended – right, Justice Antonin Scalia? – he was seized and later had to appear in D.C. Superior Court where, thank God, he was eventually released pending a forthcoming hearing. If Shucard has any guts – and I’m not saying he doesn’t – he would cease insisting that the whole thing was an accident and instead assert a right to enter the Capitol of the United States of America as, surely, Thomas Jefferson and the other Fathers intended: armed.

Instead of saying he did not know the gun and a magazine containing nine hollow-point bullets were in his possession – he apparently put the bag on the X-ray belt – he should point to Alabama, where the right to openly carry a gun in a polling place was sustained by the state’s attorney general, Luther Strange. For some reason, the clerk at the Chambers County polling station had ordered a prospective voter, Jimmy Allen, to leave his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series C.O.R.E. pistol outside. It was strapped to his side.

Allen was nonplussed, as you or I would be. He has a right to openly carry a weapon, and we can infer that the argument that other voters would find that intimidating made no sense. Why, all they had to do was arm themselves and then everyone would be even – a small-town version of the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine that kept us all in one piece during the Cold War of recent memory. The AG agreed, and now everyone can vote armed to the teeth – as they have always been able to do in Alabama as long as the weapon was concealed.

Washington, D.C. is not Alabama (you can Google that), and its laws are different. But why? Just as it was recently argued that members of Congress should have to buy the same sort of health insurance that mere mortals have, I can see no reason that they, too, should not be subject to the occasional drive-by shooting and such. I think the members who are in the thrall of the National Rifle Association and will not even restrict ownership of assault weapons would appreciate how wonderful it would be to have a chamber of armed men and women. And if they are armed, why not their staff, too, who do most of the work, anyway? This seems to me to be self-evident.

This is my view. Your comments, as always, are welcome.

Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post.