Republican Florida Representative Greg Steube has introduced a bill to allow for congressional staff to carry legally carried firearms as they travel to and from the US Capitol for self-defence reasons.
The bill, called the Safe Storage Lockers for House Office Buildings Act, would instruct the Capitol Police to install and take care of lockers at the entrances of the congressional office buildings where staff could keep their firearms.
In Washington DC, individuals are allowed to carry and use a number of weapons for self-defence, such as sprays, stun guns, and concealed guns, Fox News Digital noted.
But laws on both the federal and local level prohibit guns in federal buildings, meaning that people who work in them can’t bring weapons to work.
Mr Steube blamed Democrats for what he claimed were rising levels of crime in DC.
“Violent crime has skyrocketed across the country, enabled by disastrous soft-on-crime Democrat policies,” he 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 DC”
“My bill is simple,” he added. “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.”
Washington DC wasn’t in the top 15 of the most dangerous cities in the US, Forbes noted in January.
In 2022, DC saw more than 200 murders for the second year in a row, according to data from the Metropolitan Police Department. But homicides decreased by 10 per cent last year compared to 2021 and violent crime as a whole went down seven per cent, Axios noted.
Mr Steube put forward the bill two days after the Senate voted to block the changes to the criminal code by the capital’s city council.
President Joe Biden is expected to sign the resolution. If he does, it will be the first time in more than 30 years that Congress has rolled back a DC law.
Mr Steube appeared on Fox News, saying that “we’ve gotta have some avenue for law-abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves when they’re walking to and from work ... in our federal office buildings”.
When asked if he had bipartisan support for the bill, Mr Steube said, “I doubt the Democrats want to admit that DC is a crime-ridden city run by Democrats. I had a staffer who works for me who was mugged right outside her house. She typically would carry pepper spray, but you can't carry pepper spray into the Capitol”.
He added that staff “are not permitted to bring weapons in even if they have a concealed carry permit in DC”.
“Allow them to have locker space so they can ... protect themselves in one of the most crime-ridden cities in the entire United States,” he said.