Norton Criticizes House Sergeant at Arms for Refusal to Correct Error

Jun 26, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After requesting House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving correct a mistake in his email sent Wednesday to House Members and staff on the source of the prohibition of weapons on U.S. Capitol Grounds, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) received a response from Irving’s office that he will not be issuing a correction.  Although Irving’s office said that the purpose of their email was not about the source of the weapons ban, Norton said his email went into great detail about the source, specifically citing District of Columbia law as the source of the prohibition of the listed weapons, including guns, on Capitol Grounds.  While most of the listed weapons are prohibited in the District by D.C. law, which the Capitol Police can enforce, all of the weapons are prohibited on Capitol Grounds by federal law (40 USC §5104).  Norton said that Irving’s email compounded the error by indicating that D.C. law prohibits all guns.  Yet, the District only prohibits possession of certain dangerous guns, such as assault weapons, while federal law prohibits the possession of any and all guns on Capitol Grounds and in all other federal buildings (18 USC § 930 and 39 CFR 232.1).

“The House Sergeant at Arms is a congressional agency and is responsible to and for Members,” Norton said.  “Because our mission is law-making, it is expected that a congressional agency would be at pains to be accurate and unambiguous when informing Members and staff about rules and regulations that apply to Capitol Grounds.  All that was necessary was a one sentence correction that the source of the prohibition of guns on Capitol Grounds is federal law.  If the Sergeant at Arms wanted to explain further, he could indicate that most prosecutions for bringing the listed weapons onto Capitol Grounds occur under D.C. law.  It is unprofessional for a police agency to be reluctant to correct an error.”