Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., on Friday introduced legislation that would allow congressional employees to carry legally possessed weapons in self-defense to and from Capitol Hill and safely store them while at work.
The Safe Storage Lockers for House Office Buildings Act would require Capitol Police to install and operate lockers at the entrances of House office buildings where workers could store their weapons.
In Washington, D.C., individuals are allowed by law to carry and use certain weapons for self-defense, including self-defense sprays, stun guns and concealed firearms. However, both D.C. and federal law prohibit individuals from carrying these weapons inside a federal building.
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As a practical matter, therefore, people who work in federal buildings generally can’t carry concealed weapons with them on the way to and from work.
Steube’s bill would solve this dilemma. The real impetus for the legislation, however, is rising crime in D.C., which he blames on Democratic governance.
“Violent crime has skyrocketed across the country, enabled by disastrous soft-on-crime Democrat policies,” Steube said in a statement. “Sadly, our nation’s capital is regressing to total lawlessness and violent chaos. Today, I’m introducing legislation to ensure congressional employees have the right to defend themselves in crime-ridden D.C.”
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“My bill is simple,” Steube said. “Any employee who is lawfully permitted to carry a firearm, stun gun, or self-defense spray will be able to bring those weapons on their commute to a House Office Building and safely store the weapon until they are ready to depart the building.”
Steube introduced his bill two days after the Senate voted overwhelmingly, in bipartisan fashion, to block the Washington, D.C., city council’s dramatic overhaul of its criminal code. Republicans and many Democrats complained that the proposal would ease criminal penalties in a city that is already suffering from rising crime rates. The House had previously voted to nullify the D.C. law.
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Once the resolution is signed by President Biden, as is expected, it will mark the first time Congress has acted to roll back D.C.’s own self-imposed regulations in more than three decades, exercising a power that Congress has under the Constitution.
The proposed D.C. law would have lowered the maximum penalties for crimes such as carjackings, robberies and burglaries, while raising them for murders. Nearly all misdemeanor cases would also have included the right to a jury trial, and minimum sentences for most crimes would have been abolished.
Last year, D.C. hit 200 murders in consecutive years for the first time since 2003, and the nation’s capital is currently on pace for a third straight year of 200 or more killings.
The press release from Steube’s office noted that many employees who work in the House office buildings in D.C. commute to and from their offices by walking.