The first meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee of the year became heated Wednesday when a Democratic member proposed an amendment that would prohibit lawmakers from carrying firearms in its hearing room.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said the “sadly necessary” amendment is necessary because it is a “major issue of safety for members of our committee.”
He noted that the Republican-controlled Rules Committee repealed a Democratic-enacted provision prohibiting firearms in hearing rooms and committees for the previous two years. One of the first acts of the new Republican majority was to remove the magnetometers that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had installed outside the House chamber following the Jan. 6 riot.
“To be clear, members and their staff are already prohibited by law from bringing firearms into the Capitol’s hearing rooms and conference rooms. Members are currently required by statute and Capitol Police Board regulation to keep firearms only in their offices “Huffman explained.
“This prohibits the carrying of firearms into hearing rooms and the walking around the Capitol with a loaded weapon. However, we are aware that some members believe these rules do not apply to them “He went on to say.
Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a fellow committee member who vowed in a viral 2020 video to carry a gun in the Capitol, called Huffman’s “anti-member safety amendment” a “political stunt” before unveiling an enlarged photo of him wearing a tinfoil hat.
“With threats against members of Congress at an all-time high,” Boebert said before recounting several incidents of violence in the Capitol and against lawmakers over the years.
Threats against lawmakers fell for the first time in at least five years last year, while remaining near historic highs, according to data from the United States Capitol Police.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who recently announced his candidature for the Senate, pointed out on Wednesday that Boebert’s list of incidents against lawmakers omitted the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Yes, it was awful when Ashli Babbitt was murdered,” Boebert retorted, referring to a rioter who was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to enter a door leading to a location where members of Congress were being evacuated.
Gallego responded, “And you don’t care about the 100 police officers” injured in the attack.
Boebert went on to say that she followed House rules on the day of the Capitol attack and didn’t have her gun with her when protesters tried to force their way in.
“It was the first time I had been unprotected in many, many years. I was disarmed, not unarmed, because I was not permitted to possess a firearm “said Boebert, who was elected to Congress for the first time in 2020.
Huffman and other Democrats wrote a letter earlier Wednesday asking congressional leadership if any additional safety measures are being put in place for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week, given Republicans’ relaxed gun-control laws.
Huffman and fellow committee member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, asked which other lawmakers on the Natural Resources panel planned to bring firearms into the meeting on Wednesday.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., asked the two Democrats if they had “reason to believe there’s a homicidal maniac among us.”
“Who do you not trust to bring a gun into a committee meeting?” McClintock inquired.
“I believe from what I’ve witnessed, the competence of some members may be something I’m willing to question,” Ocasio-Cortez responded.
On a party-line vote, the Democratic amendment was defeated.