House Sergeant at Arms says lawmakers should not be allowed to carry firearms inside Capitol

"It is my view that the Capitol Complex should be a place where no one carries a firearm unless they are actively engaged in law enforcement," wrote William Walker.

Updated: May 26, 2022 - 12:47pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Links

House Sergeant at Arms William Walker says lawmakers should not be permitted to carry firearms in the U.S. Capitol complex.

Walker's opinion is in response to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's request last month that he review the policy and was delivered in a letter to the Maryland Democrat in a letter obtained first by CNN. 

"It is my view that the Capitol Complex should be a place where no one carries a firearm unless they are actively engaged in law enforcement or the protection work done by, among others, myself, the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) the U.S. Secret Service, and the protective details of visiting foreign officials, wrote Walker, one of the foremost security officials overseeing Capitol Hill. 

"I would like to iterate my support to make the Capitol Grounds safe for all by further limiting the number of people who carry firearms here," he wrote. "I stand ready to work with you as you consider how to make the Capitol Complex a safer space for all."

The letter is dated one day after a mass school shooting at a Uvalde, Texas grade school in which 19 children and two adults were killed. 

Hoyer wanted to know whether Capitol Hill could be made a "gun-free zone" with the exception of security personnel.

Lawmakers are allowed to be armed only in their offices, and firearms are otherwise banned for most individuals in the Capitol. 

"Regrettably, my position on this matter is not shared by all stakeholders," Walker wrote.

Hoyer told CNN after reading Walker's response: "I was glad to receive his letter and read his determined statement that the Capitol complex and grounds ought to be seen as a gun-free zone and clarifying that Members may not carry personal firearms outside their offices unless unloaded and fully secured for transport."

While a 1967 law prohibits most people from carrying firearms in the Capitol Complex, the Capitol Police Board has previously determined that the law does not prohibit a member of Congress from "maintaining firearms within the confines of his office."

The board — comprised of the House Sergeant of Arms, the Senate Sergeant of Arms, and the Architect of the Capitol — will ultimately make a decision about how to proceed.

Hoyer's most recent letter marks his third attempt to push the board toward further restricting the use of firearms around the complex.