The recent shooting at an Alexandria, Va., baseball field where Republicans were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game was a shocking attack on our elected representatives, and called into question the safety of our nation’s leaders in a time of heated political rhetoric and dysfunction. Had it not been for the heroism of the two Capitol Police officers at the scene and officers who arrived soon after, there could have been more injuries, and even casualties among the members of Congress present that morning.
Highly trained to respond in a crisis situation, Officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner ran toward the shooter, and neutralized the threat. Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTime to pass National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Republicans ask Dems: Where’s your healthcare plan? Pressure on McConnell to deliver ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Ky.) told CNN shortly after the dramatic incident that, “Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police … it would have been a massacre without them.”
Two good people with guns were the only thing able to stop a bad guy with a gun.
What hasn’t received the attention it deserves though is that coming from the District of Columbia, which has no reciprocity for concealed carry permits and extremely restrictive gun laws, members of Congress were caught unarmed in a life threatening situation. As Rep. Mo BrooksMo BrooksTime to pass National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Brooks’s prior attacks on Trump could hurt in Alabama Senate race House to vote on Kate’s Law next week as wall debate heats up MORE (R-Ala.) noted, “We had nothing but bats to defend ourselves.”
It is time for there to be national reciprocity for concealed carry permits, instead of the patchwork of laws governing reciprocity that vary by state. Virginia, where the shooting happened, has reciprocity for some states’ concealed carry permits, but if members would have brought their guns back and forth from D.C., they would have been breaking the law. It should never be a crime to be responsibly prepared to defend yourself in any possible situation.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTime to pass National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Cruz plan could be key to unlocking healthcare votes ‘Kate’s Law’ battle shifts to the Senate, testing Dems MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) have introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would allow legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders nationwide to responsibly arm themselves no matter where they are. Responsible gun owners take self defense seriously, and these individuals have already proven that they are willing to comply with the law, by fulfilling all of the requirements associated with getting a concealed carry permit. Criminals, by definition, have no regard for laws or permits or gun free zones, and by allowing safe, responsible citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, our communities could be much safer.
Similarly, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has proposed a bill that would guarantee reciprocity for concealed carry permits specifically in the District of Columbia. H.R. 2209 currently has 40 co-sponsors, and was introduced the day of the shooting. This legislation is especially important for members of Congress, because while they are protected by Capitol Police while on the Capitol campus, they are still citizens who move about the city as part of their daily lives. Security details are reserved only for the highest ranking lawmakers (Such as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise) and the vast majority of congressman and senators do not have law enforcement with them at all times – neither in their districts nor in Washington. Recognizing out-of-state permits could make being a congressman or senator a much safer job, and allowing officials to arm themselves could prevent another catastrophe such as the one we witnessed just a few weeks ago.
No matter which side of the political spectrum lawmakers may fall, they have dedicated themselves to public service because they believe in America. Anyone who is willing to come to Washington, D.C., be away from their families, and expose themselves to the scrutiny of a 24/7 news cycle, does not deserve to be a violently targeted for representing the wishes of their constituents. Common sense reforms to concealed carry laws will give already law-abiding citizens, not just members of Congress, the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights and protect themselves from those who would seek to do them harm.
Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, and may be contacted at Press@USCCA.com.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.