Norton Corrects House Sergeant at Arms’ Email on Why Weapons Are Prohibited in Capitol

Jun 24, 2015
Press Release

Challenges Rubio and Jordan to Introduce Bills to Overturn Ban on Guns in Federal Buildings in Their States or on Capitol Grounds

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said today that House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving left a misimpression in an email yesterday to House Members and staff of the source of the prohibition of weapons on U.S. Capitol Grounds.  In his email listing what weapons are prohibited on Capitol Grounds, Irving said that District of Columbia law prohibits the listed weapons, including guns, in the Capitol.  In fact, federal law (40 USC §5104) prohibits the weapons listed in the email on U.S. Capitol Grounds.  Moreover, while many of the weapons Irving listed are indeed illegal in the District of Columbia, which the U.S. Capitol Police can enforce on Capitol Grounds under a separate federal law (2 USC §1967), Irving created a further misimpression by indicating that all guns are illegal in D.C.  Norton said Irving should recognize that federal law with respect to Capitol Grounds goes much further in its firearm restrictions than D.C. law, and should inform Members and staff of this correction.  Norton said this is especially pressing after a Capitol Hill intern attempted to bring a firearm into a House Office Building earlier this month.  The District prohibits possession of only certain dangerous guns, such as assault weapons, while federal law prohibits the possession of any and all firearms in the U.S. Capitol and in all other federal buildings (18 USC § 930 and 39 CFR 232.1.)

In light of this correction, Norton doubled down on her challenge to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), authors of bills to eliminate most of D.C.’s gun safety laws, to be consistent by introducing a bill to overturn the federal laws that prohibit guns in federal buildings, including the Capitol.

“The correct information on the federal source of the law that bars guns in federal buildings, including the Capitol, should be of special interest to Members like Senator Rubio and Representative Jordan, who are trying to find ways to expand access to guns,” Norton said.  “If Senator Rubio and Representative Jordan truly want to expand gun rights, they might begin with the needs of their constituents by introducing bills to amend the federal law prohibiting guns in the federal buildings in their home states, their area of legitimate concern.  There is nothing to keep them from introducing such bills to allow guns in their states’ post offices, Social Security Administration offices, or Internal Revenue Service offices.”

Below is the full text of Irvin’s email:

This is an important message from Paul D. Irving, Sergeant at Arms, to all Members and Staff.

This is a reminder that certain items that are legal in a Member’s district are prohibited in the District of Columbia.

It is important to note that there are items which are illegal in the District of Columbia which cannot be brought into the Capitol or the House Office Buildings by staff, guests or visitors. Please be aware that the U.S. Capitol Police are required to enforce District of Columbia statutes involving the possession of weapons which are illegal in the District of Columbia (which may be considered legal in other parts of the United States), and will result in arrest, such as possession of:

• An imitation pistol, or a dagger, dirk, razor, stiletto, or knife with a blade longer than 3 inches;
• Any kind of “knuckle” (object made to fit around the knuckles to reinforce the fist) made of materials which may include brass, steel, plastics, and acrylic;
• Firearms regardless of whether a person has a permit to carry the firearm in their State.

A link to the complete list of these items may be found here:

It is imperative that you make all guests coming to your Washington, D.C. office aware of the policies, regulations and/or statutes which may govern any item that may be prohibited. My office will be happy to assist in any way that we can.

Please contact the Office of the Sergeant at Arms at 202-225-2456 for further information or if you have any additional questions.

Thank you.