The House Natural Resources Committee was holding its first organizational meeting, which included passage of the panel’s rules. Republicans offered an amendment to remove a provision prohibiting lawmakers from bringing firearms to meetings.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who has been on a one-man crusade for several years to tighten gun regulations on Capitol Hill, derided Boebert during the hearing.
“If somebody wants to have a shrine to their gun fetish as a Zoom backdrop in their private life, they can do that,” Huffman said. “But this is our hearing room, and at some point we will get past the covid epidemic and we’ll all start showing up in person.
“It’s necessary that we lay down these ground rules that whatever your fetishes or feelings are about guns, you’re not going to bring them into our committee room,” he added.
Boebert responded that the Democrats were infringing on her constitutional rights.
“It doesn’t matter how you feel, how you classify it. This is an enumerated right . . . to bear arms,” she said.
A 1967 law banned firearms anywhere in the Capitol building and grounds but gave U.S. Capitol Police the power to make exceptions. Later that year, Capitol Police decided that lawmakers could keep them in their personal offices and transport unloaded firearms “within the Capitol Grounds.”
There has been debate over whether that means they can bring guns into committee rooms. To clear up the ambiguity, Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee added an explicit rule forbidding it in at least that committee. Republicans argued that no other committee has done this and accused Democrats of using the panel politically.
“This rule is deeper than just this committee, and the Democratic majority seeks to restrict our Second Amendment rights on public lands across this nation and erode those rights,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), the ranking Republican on the committee.
After the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol, Capitol Police put up metal detectors outside the House and Senate chambers. Boebert led a revolt against them after setting off the detector and refusing to allow police to check her bag.
Huffman believes that the way the law is written, a lawmaker could openly carry an AK-47 around the Capitol complex and it would be allowed. He said he was shocked to see Boebert prominently displaying her guns at the committee hearing.
“It was jaw-dropping for all of us, and I’m sure that was the point,” Huffman said in an interview. “I think what she doesn’t seem to understand is that all of this strident waving around of guns doesn’t make the people around you feel safe about the idea of you being heavily armed in their presence.”
On Twitter, Boebert faced criticism for unsafely storing her guns.
“Who says this is storage?” she responded. “These are ready for use.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Rep. Jared Huffman represented Colorado. He represents California.