With guns as backdrop, Boebert opposes committee firearm ban

Colorado Republican asked for a personal security detail if she’s prohibited from carrying firearms into the Natural Resources Committee’s hearing room

Rep. Lauren Boebert appeared at a House Natural Resources Committee meeting with a backdrop of firearms. (Screen capture from virtual meeting)
Rep. Lauren Boebert appeared at a House Natural Resources Committee meeting with a backdrop of firearms. (Screen capture from virtual meeting)
Posted February 18, 2021 at 2:12pm

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., asked Thursday to be provided a personal security detail if she’s prohibited from carrying firearms into the House Natural Resources Committee’s hearing room.

Boebert had an assortment of guns arrayed on a bookshelf behind her as she spoke during the panel’s virtual meeting to organize for the 117th Congress.

She said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., should pay for her security detail personally rather than having taxpayers foot the bill.

“The chairman is trying to take responsibility for my personal safety while stripping away my Second Amendment rights,” Boebert said.

The panel was debating its rules for this session, which included a proposed new prohibition on carrying guns in the hearing room. The rules were eventually approved by voice vote. The gun ban sparked an intense discussion that reflects the broader debate about guns in the Capitol complex. Boebert is among a small group of members who have touted their intention to carry firearms on Capitol grounds.

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The House has installed metal detectors around the floor and instituted fines for members who refuse to go through them.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said he’s familiar with the regulation that exempts members from a federal law banning firearms on the Capitol grounds. Those weapons are still prohibited on the House floor, a restriction he said Congress is struggling to enforce.

“Here’s the reality — if somebody wants to have a shrine to their gun fetish as a Zoom backdrop in their private life, they can do that, but this is our hearing room,” Huffman said, referring to the guns behind Boebert. “At some point we will get past the COVID epidemic and we’ll all start showing up in person and our safety and our ability to conduct business civilly without feeling threatened is a relevant consideration, unfortunately.”

Boebert questioned how or even if the new rule would be enforced, who would pay for the metal detectors and if safe storage for firearms would be provided. She also rhetorically asked if the committee planned to infringe on any other constitutional rights.

She said members should be allowed to carry guns given the threats reflected in the fencing and other security measures implemented since the violent insurrection attempt on Jan. 6.

“On Jan. 6 none of us were looking to our neighbors saying, ‘Gosh I hope there are enough metal detectors outside,’” Boebert said. “No, the speaker of the House was whisked away to safety while we were all left vulnerable and defenseless.”

GOP amendments

The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, offered an amendment striking the prohibition from the proposed rules. It was defeated, 19-25.

Committee Democrats defeated several other Republican amendments to the committee rules, including one that would have required the committee to hold a markup before reporting legislation under the budget reconciliation process. The committee’s Democrats opted not to hold a markup on their portion of the COVID-19 relief package that is moving through reconciliation.

Boebert is a new member of the committee, as is Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., who tweeted a screenshot of Boebert’s backdrop.

“I always thought my dirty dishes piled up and accumulating bacteria were the most dangerous thing in a Zoom background…,” Porter wrote.

Boebert tweeted her own screenshot from the feed visible to members that showed Huffman with tin foil on his head.

In an interview, Huffman confirmed that in an “intemperate moment” he grabbed some tin foil from his cupboard and put it on his head as a commentary on the “lecture” he was receiving from Boebert at the time. He has sponsored legislation aimed at eliminating the exemption that allows members to carry guns on Capitol grounds.

“It’s pretty obvious that we need to have this conversation and maybe we didn’t in the past because we didn’t have members who were so over the top about taking their guns with them everywhere and flouting the rules,” Huffman said.

As Thursday’s hearing drew to a close, committee members were in the midst of wishing Huffman a happy birthday when Boebert asked to be recognized.

“I do want to wish Rep. Huffman a very happy birthday,” Boebert said. “He had a lovely tin foil birthday hat as I guess our Second Amendment rights are a conspiracy.”