Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), a member of the GOP baseball squad who was on the scene during Wednesday morning’s shooting, said Congress should explore allowing lawmakers to carry weapons to defend themselves.
“If this had happened in Georgia, he wouldn’t have gotten too far,” Loudermilk told reporters Wednesday at the Capitol. “I had a staff member who was in his car maybe 20 yards behind the shooter, who was pinned in his car, who back in Georgia carries a 9-millimeter in his car. . . . He had a clear shot at him. But here, we’re not allowed to carry any weapons here.”
While firearms are strictly regulated on the Capitol grounds and in the rest of the District of Columbia, gun laws in Virginia — where the shooting took place — are significantly less strict. Firearms can be openly carried without a permit, and the state issues permits to carry concealed weapons. Alexandria allows the ownership and carrying of weapons, but discharging a firearm in the city is illegal.
“Most of us are here in D.C., so how do you have the gun here and just transport it to Virginia?” Loudermilk said when Virginia’s laws were pointed out. “I think we need to look at some kind of reciprocity for members here.”
Loudermilk said perhaps a larger group of lawmakers ought to receive security protection, rather than just the top leaders who have a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.
“We’re not any more special than anybody else, but we are targets,” he said. “This is exactly why there is a lot of fear of even doing town halls at this point. Some of the things this guy is posting on Facebook — we get the same things, and even worse.”