Op-Ed: Members of Congress and the public should be allowed to protect themselves at all times

Feb 11, 2021

By Tim Schmidt, U.S. Concealed Carry Association President & Founder

After a mob of rioters breached the doors of the U.S. Capitol, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace likely spoke for many members of Congress in describing the feeling of defenselessness. In an interview with a local media outlet, the Republican congresswoman said, “I felt personally like a sitting duck … We didn’t have a way to protect ourselves; we didn’t have security on us; we didn’t have firearms protecting us.” Mace added that she is currently going through the process to obtain her concealed weapons permit.

Mace is not alone. Just days before this attack on the Capitol, another newly elected congresswoman, Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, was warned by the D.C. police against trying to protect herself while working in Washington by carrying a concealed weapon. In other words, if you’re walking to your home or car on a darkened street outside of your home state or facing threats from political extremists on either side, the message is, “Good luck. You’re on your own.”

What all of this brings to light is a lesson that should have been learned after the 2017 shooting of House Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise. It’s a reminder that our massive patchwork of state and local concealed carry laws puts not only elected officials but all people at risk.

It is time for there to be national reciprocity for concealed carry permits, similar to what we already do for state driver’s licenses. Consider, for example, that if it had not been for the presence and heroism of two Capitol Police officers at that Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field on June 14, 2017, there could have been more injuries and even deaths among the members of Congress present that morning.

Virginia, where the shooting happened, has reciprocity for some states’ concealed carry permits, but if members had brought their guns back and forth from D.C., they would have broken the law. As a result, none were able to protect themselves, and it was only because Scalise is a member of House leadership that Capitol Police officers were present to save lives.

Bottom line: It should never be a crime to be responsibly prepared to defend yourself in any possible situation. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, recently introduced H.R. 38, theConcealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders nationwide to arm themselves responsibly no matter where they are.

Read the full piece in the Washington Examiner here.