Washington, DC – A newly-elected Republican congresswoman who owns a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado has asked permission from the U.S. Capitol Police to carry her firearm on the ground of the Capitol.
U.S. Representative-Elect Lauren Boebert defeated a five-term incumbent in the Republican primary in June, NBC News reported.
Boebert, 33, established reputation for herself as a Glock-wearing gun activist and was elected to represent conservative western Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.
Two congressional officials told NBC News that when Boebert was on Capitol grounds for a freshman orientation recently, she asked U.S. Capitol Police for permission to carry her weapon on the grounds.
Decades-old congressional regulations allow the practice with some limitations, but the public is barred from carrying guns on the grounds, in the Capitol, or in congressional office buildings.
“This was a private discussion and inquiry about what the rules are, and as a result the Congresswoman-Elect won’t be going on the record,” Boebert aide Laura Carno told NBC News in an email.
Boebert owns a restaurant called Shooters Grill in the aptly named town of Rifle and has promised her supporters she will fight to ease federal and state gun restrictions.
U.S. Capitol Police Spokeswoman Eva Malecki did not respond to NBC News’ request for confirmation of Boebert’s request, nor would the police reveal how many members of Congress were packing at work.
The police department also didn’t answer that question when it was asked by Democrats on the House Committee on Administration in 2018.
Officials responded to the committee in writing at the time that they’ve “been made aware” of some members asking about carrying weapons; however, “there is no standing requirement” for congressmen and senators to notify U.S. Capitol police when they’re carrying on the grounds, NBC News reported.
The rules require members to safely store their weapons but “that responsibility resides with the Member,” according to U.S. Capitol Police officials.
The 1967 regulation specifically says no federal or DC law “shall prohibit any Member of Congress from maintaining firearms within the confines of his office” or “from transporting within Capitol grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped,” NBC News reported.
Although lawmakers may not bring their weapons into the House or Senate chambers, aides may carry their guns around for them on the grounds of the Capitol.
U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-California) made a bid to change that regulation and halt the practice in 2018, but ran into strong opposition, NBC News reported.
Huffman said in a recent interview that he would not try again for the ban this year because of ongoing resistance from congressional colleagues.
The regulation was initially adopted after the race riots in DC in the summer of 1967, NBC News reported.
Huffman said the regulation was outdated and risky.
“Members could have a loaded AK47 sitting on their desk and no one would ever do anything about it,” he complained.
The congressman pointed out that because members are exempt from passing through metal detectors, nobody knows how many people were carrying at any one time and nobody checked to make sure they don’t bring those weapons onto the House floor, NBC News reported.
Several lawmakers have pushed back against any suggestion of changing the regulation, citing the 2017 attack on U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) when a gunman opened fire on an early morning congressional softball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
“As soon as you leave the Capitol property, you are a target,” U.S. Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) told NBC News.
Boebert is not the only freshman in Congress likely to be carrying on the grounds of the Capitol.
“Not only do I support members of Congress carrying a firearm, I believe every American has that right,” U.S. Representative-Elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) said in a statement. “I will work every day to end ALL gun-free zones.”