Members of Congress can keep firearms in their offices, Capitol Police say

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Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., with the Colorado congressman’s AR-15 on Capitol Hill. (Photo: @RepKenBuck/Twitter)

A Republican congressman who brought an AR-15 rifle to his Capitol Hill office did so legally even though it’s illegal for most people to carry a firearm under Washington, D.C.’s strict gun laws, police say.

Last week, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck tweeted a photo of himself and Rep. Trey Gowdy posing with the American-flag-painted assault rifle.

Buck told the Washington Post that he received clearance from authorities to transport the firearm from his home state to his office on Capitol Hill.

“I went to Capitol Hill police,” Buck said. “They went to the D.C. police, [and] they got permission for me to transport it into the District. I went to TSA, and followed all of the regulations in getting it onto the plane and getting it here.”

On Tuesday, the D.C. attorney general’s office referred the matter to the city’s Metropolitan Police Department to investigate, according to Reuters. A spokesman for that department referred questions to the U.S. Capitol Police.

While the public is prohibited from carrying firearms on Capitol Grounds, Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider told Yahoo News that members of Congress may keep firearms in their office, and may transport them, too — as long as they’re unloaded.

“Members of Congress may maintain firearms within the confines of their office,” Schneider said, “and they and any employee or agent of any member of Congress may transport within the Capitol Grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped.”

But according to the same provision, no one “shall carry any firearm inside the chamber or on the floor of either House, in any lobby or cloakroom adjacent thereto, in the galleries of either House or in the Marble Room of the Senate or Rayburn Room of the House unless assigned or approved by the two Sergeants of Arms for maintenance of adequate security.”

According to Buck, his gun — which hangs above a Second Amendment flag in his office — was unloaded, has a trigger lock and had its bolt carrier assembly removed before he brought it to Washington.

“Putting a trigger lock on an inoperable gun is like putting a chastity belt on a eunuch,” Buck told the paper. “The only dangerous thing about that gun is if someone took it off the wall and hit somebody else over the head with it.”

Buck isn’t the first person to test the District of Columbia’s restrictive gun laws in the name of the Second Amendment.

In 2013, Adam Kokesh, a libertarian activist, videotaped himself loading a shotgun in Washington’s Freedom Plaza.

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Adam Kokesh appears to load a shotgun in Washington, July 4, 2013. (YouTube)

Kokesh, a former Marine, had hoped to lead an “Open Carry March” on Washington with 1,000 people carrying loaded rifles on the Fourth of July, but ultimately scrapped those plans.

He was later arrested at his home in northern Virginia on drug and gun charges.

Emily Miller, a Second Amendment activist and D.C.-based author, has chronicled her attempt to get a gun carry permit in the nation’s capital. In February, she received preliminary approval — becoming just the 15th person to be approved by the Washington, D.C., police for a carry permit.

“Why me?” Miller wrote. “The approval letter made the reason clear. I was approved based on two different threats against me, which I had documented with police reports.”

In 2012, days after the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Conn., NBC News host David Gregory held up a high-capacity magazine during an interview with National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre on “Meet the Press.”

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David Gregory displays a high-capacity magazine on “Meet the Press” on Dec. 23, 2012. (AP/NBC News)

Gregory was not charged despite warnings from D.C. police that it would he would be in violation of laws banning possession of high-capacity ammunition.

While the display met the definition of the criminal statute, D.C. Attorney General Irvin D. Nathan wrote in a 2013 letter to the NBC’s lawyers that Gregory’s prosecution “would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.”

Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, introduced a bill that would wipe out D.C.’s strict local gun laws.

“In order to achieve the American Dream, people need to be able to live in safe communities and be able to protect themselves, their families and their properties from danger,” Rubio said. “For years, the District of Columbia has infringed on its residents’ Second Amendment rights and rendered them vulnerable to criminals who could care less what the gun laws are.”

If the legislation is approved, The Washington Post noted, it could force “a Second Amendment showdown” with President Obama two years after the administration failed to enact stricter gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre in 2012.

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