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DC – SELF-PROTECTION – Tensions running high after gun incident near House floor

Lawmaker tensions are running high this week after a Republican lawmaker nearly brought a gun onto the House floor, further stoking concerns about Capitol security and whether members of Congress need protection from one another. The renewed anxiety just two weeks after the deadly Jan. 6 attack was sparked by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) when he set off a newly installed metal detector off the House floor with a concealed gun, despite a longtime ban on firearms in the chamber. The incident followed numerous reports of other Republicans, accustomed to bypassing metal detectors in the Capitol, chafing at the new security measures. Some Democrats are now openly expressing that they don’t feel safe around certain colleagues. The spiking anger and distrust in the wake of this month’s Capitol attack by Trump supporters has some lawmakers fearing that heated debates could turn violent. “Look, the temperature is high right now politically,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) told The Hill. “It is insane to rely on an honor system that could allow something really tragic to happen. And I would say it’s just a matter of time before it does.” Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) said she never would have envisioned violence breaking out during floor debate when she first started serving in the House in 2015. Now, she says, it’s another story. “You can’t be afraid that the person that you’re having a little argument with on the floor with C-SPAN watching is going to pull a gun and, like, shoot you,” Rice said.

“If you had said that to me six years ago I’d say, ‘Whoever is afraid of that is crazy. That would never happen.’ Now? Sorry. All bets are off. It’s a totally different climate. Totally different climate. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — who revealed she had a “close encounter” on Jan. 6 — cited security concerns for not attending President Biden’s inauguration, saying during an interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” that “we still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.” The metal detectors were installed last week after first-term GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.) and Madison Cawthorn (N.C.) publicly discussed carrying their weapons around Capitol Hill. Both were also among several House Republicans who engaged in inflammatory rhetoric promoting former President Trump’s false claims of election fraud ahead of the Capitol attack that left five people dead.  [full article]

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