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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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After Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Capitol, Norton Asks Why Massie Didn’t Overturn Federal Law Barring Guns on Capitol Grounds

Jul 18, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C – After a congressional staffer was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police for bringing a handgun into a Capitol office building today, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) wondered why Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), who sponsored a House-passed amendment this week to bar the District of Columbia government, including the Metropolitan Police Department, from enforcing its local gun laws, did not offer an amendment to bar the Capitol Police from enforcing the federal law that prohibits the carrying of guns on Capitol Grounds.  Under 40 USC § 5104, it is a federal offense to “carry on or have readily accessible” a gun on Capitol grounds, with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. 

In May, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2015 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, which contains the funding for the U.S. Capitol Police.  Rep. Massie did not file an amendment to block the Capitol Police from spending their funds to enforce that federal law.  In contrast, this week, during Floor consideration of the Fiscal Year 2015 D.C. Appropriations bill, Rep Massie offered an amendment to block the District from spending its local funds to enforce its local gun laws.

“When the media challenged Rep. Massie about imposing his federal amendment on a local jurisdiction, such as the District of Columbia, he said that he wants to ‘restore gun rights anywhere I can.’  Well, here is a federal law of which he has direct jurisdiction over,” Norton said.  “If Rep. Massie is true to his word that he wants to ‘restore gun rights anywhere he can,’ we should expect an amendment close to home that would permit the general public, like the staffer with the gun, to bring their weapons into the Capitol.”

Even if Rep. Massie’s amendment were enacted into law and D.C. couldn’t enforce its no-carry law, there is a separate federal offense for carrying on Capitol grounds.