After the shocking events of yesterday morning at the GOP baseball practice field, lawmakers are understandably nervous. Are changes in order in terms of security for the members of Congress who have to spend a fair amount of their time mixing with the public or just going about their private affairs? The fact that the only member with any assigned security detail at the practice was a member of the leadership prompted Senator Rand Paul to note that the ball field might well have been a killing field had the officers protecting the GOP Whip not been there.
The Hill looks at the question of these growing security concerns and what to do about them.
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) announced that he plans to carry a gun with him from now on. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) said Congress should consider expanding ways for lawmakers to defend themselves. And Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, said he wants to give lawmakers more flexibility to secure their homes and offices.
“You look at the vulnerability. I can assure you, from this day forward, I have a carry permit, I will be carrying when I’m out and about,” Collins told local ABC affiliate WKBW in Buffalo, N.Y.
Collins will not be able to carry a gun at all times, however. Guns are banned from the Capitol complex, and the District of Columbia has strict gun laws.
Loudermilk suggested that more lawmakers, beyond members of leadership, could start receiving additional security protection.
I suppose one approach is to begin assigning “additional security protection” for the members as Loudermilk suggests, but what does that look like and who pays for it? The members spend (hopefully) as much time back in their districts as they do in Washington every year. So when inside the beltway will there be Capitol Police details handling this? Let’s see… currently just the leadership in both parties have such a detail, which means four from each party plus the Speaker, for a total of nine. That means that we’re going to need 526 teams, probably operating in two shifts. With two person teams such as the Whip has, let’s call that four cops each per day for a total of… 2, 104 more Capitol Police officers every day they’re in town. And when they’re back home? The Senators might get that funded at the state level, but nobody pays district based taxes so I suppose the feds will need to subsidize that.
Seeing a problem with this yet?
So how about self defense? Chris Collins already has a permit and plans to be carrying whenever possible. That’s kind of remarkable since he’s from New York, not too far from where I live, and getting a concealed carry permit here (even with a spotless record) is only slightly more likely than hitting a unicorn with your car on your way to work. But exceptions are made for certain people and the congressman obviously qualifies.(Full disclosure… I did a couple of campaign stops with Collins in 2010. He’s a great guy.) My own congresswoman was receiving death threats shortly after the Alexandria shooting so she might want to make sure she’s packing in the future also.
Today’s exit question isn’t for the readers, but rather for Congressman Chris Collins, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney and all the rest of the members from both parties. How about the rest of us? How many of you will take the steps to ensure that you get approved for a concealed carry permit if you live in a state where it’s nigh onto impossible for anyone else to get one and not take steps to change that? I’ll be right here waiting when you come up with an answer.