Two Congressmen Say They’ll Be Packing Heat During District Visits

Well, this will send the debate in interesting directions for sure:

Several lawmakers are already changing their security arrangements in wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and at least two lawmakers say they’ll now be packing firearms in public when they’re in their home districts.

Both Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) told POLITICO they will be carrying their guns in their home districts for protection. Both lawmakers hold a conceal and carry permit, but will not carry their weapons in the District of Columbia.

Shuler, who received a serious death threat in 2009, says he is planning to carry his weapon more often and boost security at his district events. He’s even encouraging his staffers to get their own conceal to carry permits.

“You never think something like this will happen, but then it does,” Shuler said “After the elections, I let my guard down. Now I know I need to have [my gun] on me. We’re going to need to do a much better job of with security at these events.”

The Capitol Police are also reassessing lawmaker security both in Washington and around the country.

Chaffetz said he’s also going to pursue whether U.S. Marshalls – who usually guard federal judges – could be expanded to guard members of Congress as well during district events.

“Perhaps they could better assess threats in the home district,” said Chaffetz, who praised the work of U.S. Capitol Police. “It certainly ought to be on the table.”

This might be advisable, but it’s pretty clear that the Marshall’s Service is currently nowhere near big enough to provide security to every Member of Congress in their home districts, and I’m not sure that we’d want them to.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Michael says:

    This might be advisable

    The implication being either that random lunatics have historically been numerous enough that it should have been advisable before now too, or that the current political climate is making lunatic attacks on congressmen more likely that is has been in the past.

  2. Of course, Giffords could have had multiple guns on her person and that wouldn’t have prevented her from being shot in this case. Claims like this always make me think that people have seen too many action flicks,

    Plus, since I think this is the first time a member of Congress has been shot on US soil since Bobby Kennedy, perhaps we need to take a deep breath before we start assuming that we are facings a wave of violence against elected representatives

    Rep. Leo Ryan was shot in 1978(?) but that was in Guyana.

  3. anjin-san says:

    Yea, there is a concept of “having the drop” with guns. A scared, poorly trained person carrying a gun is a danger all its own.

  4. Janis Gore says:

    Yep. Only thing better than one gunman firing into crowds is two gunmen firing into crowds.