Following the shooting at a GOP congressional baseball team practice on June 14 in Alexandria, Va., , U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, has co-sponsored legislation that attempts to loosen restrictions on congressmen and women who are licensed or permitted to carry firearms.
The gunman wounded four people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, before exchanging fire with the congressman’s security detail and police. The gunman, James Hodgkinson, was shot and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Late last week, Scalise was listed in fair condition, according to the Washington Post.
“If there had not been a good guy with a gun on that baseball field or in proximity, I would probably over the last couple weeks have attended 20-25 funerals,” Thompson said.
Of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thompson said only five are assigned a security detail : speaker, majority leader, minority leader, majority whip and minority whip.
Members of congress cannot carry a firearm while in Washington, D.C., and Thompson said the lack of reciprocity laws made him take a step back and rethink the issue following the shooting. In an attempt to offer a protection option for members of Congress who are not in leadership positions, Thompson has co-sponsored two bills that he believes address the need.
An unnamed bill was introduced last week that allows members of Congress to carry a concealed handgun anywhere in the United States, except during national events with security protocols, within secret service jurisdiction and on commercial airlines, Thompson said.
Thompson has also co-sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would allow permitted gun carriers in one state to posses a gun in other states where a person can become a permitted gun carrier.
“Being this close to the incident leads to greater awareness and thinking about procedurally how we do things,” Thompson said. “That’s been the end result of this.”
During times when the political climate in Washington and around the country has become more hateful and contentious, Thompson said he has always tried to make himself accessible to his constituents and he doesn’t intend to change.
“When you get somebody who is targeting based on politics and appears to have gotten caught up in the escalating hateful rhetoric that we’ve heard, it gives you pause,” Thompson said. “ But one thing I will not let this shooting and the hyperactive rhetoric do is prevent me from being accessible for the people I work for.”