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Republican Congressman Considers Suit Over ‘Unconstitutional’ House Gun Ban

Stephen Gutowski - Washington Free Beacon  | Published on 2/10/2021

Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas) said he is weighing whether to take legal action against the "unconstitutional" metal detectors and fines instituted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to stop members from carrying guns on the House floor.

"It's an outrage. I believe it deprives us of our Second Amendment right to defend ourselves," Roy said. "On January 6, I was sitting on the floor of the House of Representatives. The only thing between me and an angry mob was a handful of Capitol Hill police officers who had their hands full."

He said the deadly violence of that day demonstrates the need for members to be able to protect themselves even on the House floor. He disputed the notion that the metal detectors were a safety measure. The new system, he argued, will make it harder to defend the building because it directs police resources to target representatives rather than protect them. "This isn't making us safer," Roy said. "This is a political show."

The detectors and fines have created a new point of contention between Republicans and Democrats. Some Republicans, including Roy, initially refused to be searched and walked past the detectors while some Democrats, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), have said they feel unsafe around Republicans. The conflict could spill over into courts. Roy insisted the restrictions are unconstitutional.

"This is an unconstitutional deprivation of my right to defend myself. Period. Full stop," Roy said. "I do not care what Speaker Pelosi says about it. I do not care what anybody says about it. That is what the Second Amendment means. That is why it is there."

Roy said Article One, Section Six of the Constitution prevents members of Congress from being arrested on their way to and from voting unless they have committed "treason, felony" or "breach of the peace." He added that the proposed fines—which begin at $5,000—could run afoul of the 27th Amendment, which requires changes to members' pay not go into effect until the next Congress.

"Whether or not we can be fined has not really been adjudicated heavily since 1992, when that amendment was adopted," Roy said. 

Pelosi's office did not respond to a request for comment. In a press release on Tuesday, she said she did not understand why some members opposed the "simple, commonsense steps."

"Just days after the assault, many House Republicans began disrespecting our heroes by refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our Congressional community safe—including by dodging metal detectors, physically pushing past police, and even attempting to bring firearms into the chamber," Pelosi said in the release. "It is sad that we have been forced to move forward with a rule change imposing fines on those who refuse to abide by these protections, but the People’s House must and will be safe, so that we can honor our responsibility to do the People’s work. "

Roy said members have traditionally been allowed to carry guns on Capitol grounds with the exception of the House floor. But, he said, that restriction was commonly ignored in the past without incident.

"The fact of the matter is that, historically speaking, a number of members that carried just kind of didn't really acknowledge or follow that rule but they didn't make a show out of it," Roy said. "No one said anything about it, no one asked."