“Even though I now work in one of the most liberal cities in America, I refused to give up my rights, especially my Second Amendment rights,” Boebert, who defeated Scott R. Tipton in the Republican primary, says in the ad. “I will carry my firearm in D.C. and in Congress.”
The ad begins with Boebert strapping a Glock to her hip before appearing to embark on a walk through Capitol Hill, near federal buildings and through alleys. Although the neighborhood is one of the city’s safest, she cites rising violent crime among the reasons she wants to be armed.
“I walk to my office each morning by myself,” Boebert says. “So as a five-foot-tall, 100-pound woman I choose to protect myself legally, because I am my best security.”
Boebert also accuses D.C. residents of not understanding “how we live in real America” — echoing the rhetoric of anti-statehood Republicans who have suggested that people who live in the nation’s capital are somehow separate from the rest of the United States.
A spokesman for Boebert said she was not carrying the gun throughout the video shoot, despite the opening scene. D.C. gun laws do not recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states, and nonresidents must register firearms with D.C. police.
A 1967 regulation exempts members of Congress from a federal law banning firearms on the Capitol grounds.
“Congresswoman Boebert is a fierce advocate for the Second Amendment, as such will comply with all applicable firearm laws and regulations,” spokesman Ben Goldey said.
Asked about the ad on Monday, acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III said Boebert would have to follow applicable laws if she wanted to carry a firearm on city streets, and would be subjected to the same penalties as anyone else if she does not.
“There are no exceptions in the District of Columbia,” Contee said. “We plan to reach out to the congresswoman’s office to make sure that she is aware of what the laws of the District of Columbia are, what the restrictions are.”
Democrats supportive of the efforts to ban guns on the Capitol grounds slammed Boebert’s ad on Monday. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said that “as a lifelong Washingtonian I would object that this is somehow one of the most dangerous places in America.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting member of Congress, said Boebert’s comments suggesting that D.C. was not “real America” were “an insult to the residents of the District of Columbia who were part of the United States before most states, including her state.”
Rep. Jared Huffman of California, who has led efforts among Democrats to ban guns on the grounds, called the ad “catnip to the gun-hugging donor class.”
“That kind of grandstanding is clearly what this is about,” Huffman said. “It’s not about safety.”
Boebert campaigned as an ardent gun rights supporter and ally of President Trump, and employees at her restaurant openly carry firearms. She has pledged to join in the Republican effort to object to presidential electors on Wednesday — an effort that has divided the party. Boebert also flirted with support for QAnon, the baseless far-right conspiracy theory, before later distancing herself.
Shortly after the November election, she reportedly inquired with the U.S. Capitol Police about the rules for carrying guns on the grounds.
Weeks later, Democrats led by Huffman asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to amend gun regulations in a House Rules package to prohibit members of Congress from carrying firearms. Huffman spearheaded a similar effort in 2018, without success.
Boebert, in turn, led more than 80 Republicans in asking Pelosi and McCarthy to leave the 1967 regulations in place. While Democrats have said that they don’t take issue with fellow lawmakers carrying guns elsewhere in the District, Republicans noted that banning guns on the grounds would make it difficult to carry a gun on their way to work.
“If Members can’t carry on Capitol grounds, they can’t protect themselves in D.C. while making their way to and from their offices to perform their official duties,” the lawmakers wrote. “The ‘last-mile’ transition of self-protection is critical.”
Gun regulations were not addressed in the House Rules package under consideration Monday. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said the speaker supports banning guns on the Capitol grounds but thought the regulations should be amended through the Capitol Police Board.
The board includes the chief of the Capitol Police, the architect of the Capitol and sergeants-at-Arms in the House and Senate. A spokesman for House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said he was unavailable to answer questions; the other officials could not immediately be reached.
The 1967 law prohibiting the public from carrying guns on Capitol grounds was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) after race riots — back when “the Capitol was lightly guarded and White members of Congress were terrified about the Black Panthers charging into their offices,” as Huffman put it.
Regulations created by the police board days later exempted members of Congress from the law but still prohibited them from carrying firearms in either legislative chamber.
Huffman described the regulations as “woefully inadequate” because they contain no provisions on how to safely store guns in members’ offices. Lawmakers don’t have to seek Capitol Police permission, so it’s unknown how many members carry firearms on the grounds.
“Even the minimum guide rails are enforced on the loosest of honor systems,” he said.