The correct question should be, “Why shouldn’t Congress pack heat?” After all, as Rep. Louis Gohmert says to Steve Doocy on Fox today, elected officials are American citizens with the same 2nd Amendment rights as anyone else. The question in DC now, though, is why can’t all other law-abiding citizens carry a weapon, once properly licensed — a policy that the nation’s capital has resisted strongly. Must-issue carry laws in other states, including my own state of Minnesota, have not resulted in any uptick in crime. It’s at least arguable that the prevalence of those armed in self-defense can act as a way to discourage crime from happening in the first place.
However, it’s the wrong question in another sense as well. Representatives don’t face the kind of danger against which self-arming would defend on Capitol Hill or its environs. The larger threat comes from their public events back in home districts — and even that is a fairly small risk, when viewed on a historical basis. There have been very few attack attempts on members of Congress, and the latest one resulted from a deranged, cowardly lunatic that shot Congresswoman Giffords from behind. The policies of carrying weapons by members of Congress should really be first addressed by their home states, and whatever decision is made should apply to the rest of the law-abiding citizenry as well.