Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Arm the Senate

Thanks to our good friend Mud_Rake for tipping me off to this wonderful article in the Washington Post.

Isn't it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation's Capitol?

I've been studying the deep thoughts of senators who regularly express their undying loyalty to the National Rifle Association, and I have decided that they should practice what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do nothing to stop violence.

If they believe that, why don't they live by it?

It's a good question, one which I've asked myself pertaining to prisons. When visiting a prisoner, even cops must disarm prior to entering. How does that work with all this talk of guns in the hands of responsible people make us safer?

Why would freedom-loving lawmakers want to hide behind guards and metal detectors? Shouldn't NRA members be outraged that Second Amendment rights mean nothing in the very seat of our democracy?

What's your opinion? Would you feel unsafe in a highly secure building which disallows weapons? Do you think the same folks who favor guns in national parks and on college campuses would agree to allow concealed carry in the Capitol Building?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Maybe the pro gun supporters can rally behind that same line of logic and demand that members of congress follow the same rules and legislation they pass on Americans. In addition to members of congress allowing citizens who have the constitutional right to carry a firearm into the Senate, than the same body of legislators should be required to either give the same health care benefits they have to the American public or use the same for profit system Americans are forced to use.
    This is the kind of cross party issue that will help support the creation of a third political party and end the 93 percent re-election rate of the non representing representative members of Congress.

  2. Trying to compare entering the capitol building with everyday life is slightly ludicrous. The capitol building, courthouses, even airports have metal detectors which (in theory) prevent 100% of the people entering from carrying a firearm (legal or illegal).

    When I leave my house and walk down the street, there isn't a metal detector to prevent everyone from carrying a firearm. When I go to a grocery store or restaurant that has posted a "No Carry" sign, there is nothing preventing someone from carrying a firearm or other weapon.

    Frankly, if you have a permit to carry, I don't see why carrying in the courthouse or on an airplane would be an issue. You show your permit before you go through the detector, and the detector goes off, they pull you aside, and wand you. Security knows you have a sidearm (because you told them). The people we do allow to carry in these places (police officers, federal agents, etc) are not immune from committing crimes.

    That being said, having a metal detector does not prevent all weapons (or even all firearms) from entering an area. Airports have many access points that aren't covered by metal detectors, I imagine that courthouses do as well. The fact that we occasionally see stories of people sneaking weapons in shows that a metal detector is not invinceable.

    Personally, I don't feel unsafe in "secure" buildings. But then again, I don't feel unsafe walking down the street. I feel unsafe when I am in areas where crime is rampant. That doesn't mean I am immune from crime in "secure" buildings or walking down the street. I choose to not let fear (of people or tools) govern my life.

    Besides, metal detectors are not going to pick up any number of weapons and other objects that can be used as weapons. This includes aerosol or evaporative poisons and some explosives which can cause much more damage than any firearm could.

    Prisons are a different issue entirely. Here, you have someone going into a population that has shown they are unwilling to live by the rules of society. Prison guards that are in direct contact with the prisoners (yard rounds, cell inspections, etc.) do not carry firearms. They do usually carry weapons (batons or other close range weapons) that they have been trained to use. They are backed up by guards in protected areas that do have firearms.

    I have no problem with Senators not pushing for CCW inside the Capitol Building. The Capitol Building is controlled by more than a sign. On the other hand, I wouldn't have any problem if they did propose legislation allowing CCW in the Capitol Building and other federal buildings for that matter (some of which are only protected by a sign).

  3. I'm all for politicians carrying guns to work. The worst that could happen is they all shoot each other.

    All joking aside, just because a building is secure, that doesn't make it safer. The Holocaust Museum shooting, the Pentagon on 9/11, the Murrah Building Bombing. All cases of unsafe, yet secure buildings. Not too long ago, they released a report detailing how unsafe many federal buildings are.


    What good is it to disallow guns, when people are sneaking in explosives?

    Even gun bans in prisons don't work.

    Just like all the "Gun Free Zones", the Capitol and our prisons are only gun-free until a criminal decides to bring in a gun.

  4. "Isn't it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation's Capitol?"

    Why does it have to be all or nothing?

    Why not keep the metal detectors, keep the gaurds and allow concealed carry for those permitted to do so?

  5. Mike, the thing is, Dionne thinks he's found this giant "GOTCHA!" here and he's going to be met with a shrug. I wrote about this at the Chicago Gun Rights Examiner column, and one of my commenters reminded me that the New Hampshire state capitol already allows concealed carry inside. They have for years and they haven't had a problem with it.

    In my home state of Illinois, on the other hand, we had a capitol security guard shot and killed a few years ago despite the fact that carrying loaded weapons is flatly illegal in Illinois (concealed or open makes no difference.) That guy couldn't legally carry his weapon in the capitol, on the premises, in that city, or anywhere within 200 miles of the capitol . . . but he did. The only people who stopped him during his entire rampage were the armed employees in the gun shop he robbed.

  6. Guns in courts and the legislature are a special case, and the risk of an armed nut probably makes the typical ban justified. The one thing I'd do differently would be to require a government agency that banned guns to provide secure storage.

    Metal detectors don't work perfectly--look at the Plaxico Buress case. There's also the issue that Chris Rock pointed out--you may be safe inside, but everyone knows that when you come out, you don't have a gun.

  7. The capital building is under high security. since they control all entrances, making sure that rules against firearm possession are equally enforced against both the law abiding and the criminals, I have no problem with that.

    But most of the world is not secured, and laws against firearm ownership disarm ONLY the law abiding. Which is why I'm in favor of CCW anywhere unsecured, be it in National Parks, other states, or even schools. If it's a place where criminals and murderers can bring in guns, so should the people who would defend against them. Whether wearing a badge or not.

  8. Reputo, You were the first to say it. "Trying to compare entering the capitol building with everyday life is slightly ludicrous."

    I agree.

  9. Thanks for all the great comments. You know what I was wondering? If they did what kaveman said and kept the metal detectors but allowed licensed people in with their guns, wouldn't that make it easier for a shooter to get in with fake or stolen documents? The way it is now, no one except the uniforms, I suppose, gets in with a gun. Allowing anything other than that would increase the risk, making it easier for a killer to smuggle in his weapon.

    Now, notice I'm not even talking about the percentage of permit holders who go bad, you know that percentage we keep arguing about. It's somewhere between .0006% and 10%.

  10. DC does not allow carry of weapons concealed or open.

    However VA does allow CCW weapons in their Capitol and does uses metal scanners.

    I know that after 9/11 some state houses installed metal scanners only to remove them since their citizens were allowed to carry weapons in the Capitol.

    Regrettably some crazies have emtered the US Capitol and shot and killed guards. So they have expereience that they are a target and thus unstall security.

  11. MikeB,

    Where would you rather be?

    In the gallery watching Congress knowing many or most of the people on the floor and in the gallery are armed.


    In the downtown of Chicago area at night with you following the laws, meaning YOU are disarmed.

    Binary solution set...must be one or the other of those.

    This shows it isn't the firearms but the people that makes the difference.

  12. mikeb

    "wouldn't that make it easier for a shooter to get in with fake or stolen documents?"

    The answer to your question is yes. What you should then ask yourself is what is the likelihood of this happening? The answer to that is very small. Do random shootings happen, yes. Are they common? No.

    The next question you should as is, would the policy help mitigate the effects of this event? The answer is potentially yes. By having more law abiding people willing to use their firearms properly, the area covered in the building by someone with the means to stop a massacre is increased. Armed security guards are not everywhere and they have some seconds to minutes of response time. (There is a reason that mass shooting invariably happen in Gun Free Zones.)

    Finally, the last question you would have to ask is would a law abiding citizen acting against an armed criminal cause more risk to the other people involved? The answer to that is no. Data of "shootouts" show that law enforcement hit innocent bystanders 11% of the time, while CCW holders hit innocent bystanders 2% of the time (I admit I haven't seen this study yet, only references to it so if someone could give a link to it that would be appreciated). Because a CCW holder doesn't get immunity from prosecution for his stray bullets, he is much more careful about identifying his target. So to follow-up the answer to the last question, some could make the argument that you would be safer by having the CCW engage the bad guy rather than law enforcement: a) because he is more likely to be in a situation to act immediately, and b) because he is more likely to hit the correct target.

  13. If the shooters were smart and determined they can get guns in or a bomb. No security is ever 100% Just makes it difficult and a greater chance that someone will make a mistake and get caught. So yes, a stolen permit may work but I bet they can be smuggled in with towels, food or forged government papers.

    CCW Permit holders are held to a higher standard on criminal checks and have a better percentage than even cops of being law abiding.

    All people are dangerous just criminals are by definition not law abiding. So any gun laws do not effect criminals.

    But most criminals are rational and seek monetary gain. An attack on the Capital does not have any monetary gain. Terrorists may do so, that is why suicide bombers are so effective, they only care about the damage they do, not concerned about escape.

    If Congress wants to allow CCW holders to carry gun in the Capital that is fine with me. If they want to disallow that is alos fine with me.

    If I worked there I may want to be allowed to carry a weapon, just in case, But since I do not work there I no personal interst to be affected.

    Dionne is just doing a PSH about guns which is his typical mode. He is so scared of guns that he thinks anyone who has one will turn into a monster.