U.S. Capitol police are investigating after Rep. Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland, attempted to bring a concealed gun onto the House floor. Harris was caught by the new metal detector installed at the entrance to the House because of fears that Republican lawmakers are armed and wish their Democratic colleagues ill. Members of Congress are allowed to carry guns in some parts of the Capitol, but absolutely not onto the House floor.
After a Capitol police officer discovered Harris’ gun, Harris walked away and tried to hand it off to fellow Republican Rep. John Katko. That’s what responsible gun owners do, right? When they can’t bring their gun somewhere they just hand it to the first person they see from their own political party? Katko reportedly responded that he didn’t have a license. So at least one of the people in this interaction behaved responsibly. Harris later returned and didn’t set off the metal detector.
“The moment you bring a gun onto the House floor in violation of rules, you put everyone around you in danger. It is irresponsible, it is reckless, but beyond that it is the violation of rules," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Thursday.
"You are openly disobeying the rules that we have established as a community, which means that you cannot be trusted to be held accountable to what we've decided as a community. And so I don't really care what they say their intentions are, I care what the impact of their actions are, and the impact is to put all 435 members of Congress in danger.”
Rep. Don Young was also stopped at the metal detectors and handed his wife what reporters said appeared to be a knife, but which his wife said was “a piece of metal.” Technically, I guess, a knife is a piece of metal. Of a specific shape that causes it to be more accurately described as a knife.
The metal detectors were installed just last week, and a host of Republicans have set them off and refused accountability, while Rep. Madison Cawthorn was evasive about whether he’d been carrying a gun in the House chamber, in violation of the rules, on January 6 as the Capitol was attacked.
The question now appears to be: So, have Republican members of Congress routinely been armed on the House floor all along? Are the metal detectors uncovering a longstanding defiance of the rules of Congress on the part of Republicans? The rules for members of Congress carrying guns in other parts of the Capitol also call for ammunition to be carried separately, but is there any reason to believe that people like Harris and Cawthorn are observing that rule? Once again, Republicans are showing that they don’t think the rules apply to them.