Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie and 23 other GOP lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill responding to the congressional baseball practice shooting that would allow individuals with concealed carry permits from other states to carry guns in the District of Columbia.
While the baseball practice shooting took place in Virginia, a state that already has a gun reciprocity law, the sponsors of the bill argue that it is the District’s law that prevented lawmakers and staff from being armed during practice since they were traveling to and from Washington.
“I think we need to look at some kind of reciprocity for members here,” Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk told reporters Wednesday a few hours after he and other House Republicans were shot at during their morning baseball practice.
“If this had happened in Georgia, he wouldn’t have gotten too far,” Loudermilk said of the shooter. “I had a staff member who was in his car maybe 20 yards behind the shooter who was pinned to his car who back in Georgia carries a 9 millimeter in his car. I carry a weapon. He had a clear shot at him. But here, we’re not allowed to carry any weapons.”
Loudermilk is one of the 23 initial co-sponsors of Massie’s bill, which would extend reciprocity in D.C. to any individual with a valid conceal carry permit from their home state, not just members of Congress.
“Our reaction should instead be to protect the right of all citizens guaranteed in the Constitution: the right to self-defense,” Massie said in a statement. “I do not want to extend a special privilege to politicians, because the right to keep and bear arms is not a privilege, it is a God-given right protected by our Constitution.”
Massie commended the Capitol Police for their “heroic efforts” during Wednesday’s shooting but said that a relaxation of gun laws is needed since not everyone has a personal police detail.
“What’s always evident in these situations is this: the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” the Kentucky Republican said.
District of Columbia Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a nonvoting member, was quick to criticize Massie’s bill.
“It took less than a day for Representative Massie to exploit the shocking targeting of Members of Congress and staff to abuse congressional authority over D.C. to undermine our local jurisdiction’s gun safety laws,” Norton said in a statement.
“In the wake of an attack, Representative Massie is shamefully using the District as political fodder to advance the NRA-backed goal of moving toward national concealed carry reciprocity, she said. “If Representative Massie was true to his principles, he would introduce a bill to allow guns in the Capitol Complex and other federal buildings, where his jurisdiction is without question.”
D.C. requires applicants for concealed carry permit to demonstrate a good reason for needing to carry a gun.
Congressional Republicans have frequently targeted D.C.’s gun laws, since they can wield power over the District because of its unique federal status. In 2014, Massie also promoted a rider to the D.C. spending bill that would have prohibited D.C. officials from enforcing the District’s gun laws.
Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.