John Colson: Keep guns out of Congress, please
Hit & Run
As 2020 drew to a close (thank whatever god you pray to for that), we were yet again treated to evidence that Colorado’s Third Congressional District is now represented by a right-wing nut.
The newly elected Congresswoman Lauren Boebert — a 34-year-old businesswoman who lives in Rifle, packs a 9 mm Glock on her hip and runs a restaurant where the staff, too, openly carry guns — reportedly asked officials of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) whether she could carry her pistol on Capitol Hill.
Not surprisingly, I’ve had a hard time learning exactly what the response was, though the carrying of loaded firearms is generally prohibited for the public on federal grounds, according to information on the USCP.gov website.
Boebert’s office reportedly has rebuffed efforts by reporters hoping to see the request, in whatever form it was transmitted, as well as the reply from the Capitol Police.
Boebert’s aides, according to an NBC News report, also declined to make her available for an interview on the subject, and said she was merely inquiring about the rules of the job.
The Capitol Police themselves are staying mum on the topic, calling it a private issue between Boebert’s office and the police.
Interest in packing heat at the Capitol, of course, is nothing new — it’s come up repeatedly over the decades, mostly in the form of Republicans demanding that they have the right to arm themselves while they are relaxing in their deeply padded seats.
For instance, in 2015, another of Colorado’s more logically challenged elected Republicans, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, proudly posed for a photo of himself carrying the AR-15 assault rifle he kept (and probably still keeps) in his Washington, D.C., office — standing next to the truly deranged-looking Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, in an article on Yahoo.com.
I want to make it clear, here and now, that I am not a deeply confirmed anti-gun kind of guy in most things. I grew up with guns in our family’s house as a kid, and I am a gun owner, though I reject the fanatical and dangerous kind of guns-solve-everything rhetoric that has been spewing out of the NRA and its more rabid supporters for decades.
And the thought of our members of Congress going into session while packing heat makes me more than a little nervous.
Among other reasons, I have a personal and historical one, and you can look it up on the web.
Back in 1900, one of my ancestors, a Col. David G. Colson of Kentucky, was involved in a shooting at the Kentucky state capitol, in Frankfort, that left three men dead and a number of others wounded.
The reason for the shootout, according to a news story at the time, was a feud that apparently dated back to the time when my ancestor and others involved in the fracas were serving in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American war in 1898. The nature of that feud was not mentioned in the article I read.
Suffice it to say, though, that the combination of pistols with political passions can lead to trouble.
I recall when, in 2009, a politician named Joe Wilson, R-S.C., got so worked up during a speech by President Barack Obama to a joint session of Congress, that he shouted out, “You lie!” at the president.
What if Wilson had been carrying a loaded gun? Is it beyond the pale that he would have pulled out his piece and fired off a shot to punctuate his outrage? I, for one, am not so sure of that.
I also recall that in early 2010, after Obama won his first term in office, angry Tea Party Republicans were reported to have spit upon Democratic lawmakers making their way into the halls of Congress, and were alleged to have screamed the “N” word at certain black politicians.
Does anyone doubt that, in the heat of the moment, some maniac might have pulled a gun and shot someone just to prove a point? I certainly don’t doubt it, particularly in light of the recent crop of shootings all over the country.
Boebert and other Republicans in Congress, such as Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, have publicly called for members of Congress to, as Brooks said, “circumvent D.C. gun laws and arm themselves,” according to a 2017 article in The Washington Post. Brooks’ inflammatory remarks came shortly after a gunman opened fire at Republican baseball practice in Virginia, and Brooks made it clear that if he’d had a gun he would have opened up on the shooter “with a surprise short-range attack.”
A quick search of the web will turn up numerous articles detailing how a number of those serving in Congress want to be able to strap on a gun when they are at work.
If you just sit for a while and think about it, I hope that you, too, will come to the clear understanding that we should not, under any circumstances, permit our elected representatives to carry loaded guns as a matter of course on Capitol Hill.
In reading stories about Boebert’s latest stand, I note that there are many comments from readers who consider her unhinged and dangerous, and who are quick to point out that despite her win in CD-3, she lost in the three counties nearest to her home — Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle — and that should tell you something.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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