Two lawmakers say it's shoot or be shot, and they're carrying guns for protection in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting that killed a federal judge and has left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition. In addition to the congresswoman shooting, three other people were killed and 14 more were wounded. Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Heath Shuler, D-N.C., a former Washington Redskins quarterback, announced that they were arming themselves at public events according to Politico. Chaffetz and Shuler have "conceal and carry" gun permits, making their possession legal.
Heath Shuler also announced that he was encouraging his staff members to apply for carry permits, the Washington Post reported. "You never think something like this will happen, but then it does," Shuler said after the Arizona shooting.
"After the elections, I let my guard down ... Now I know I need to have (my gun) on me," said Shuler.
Jared Loughner has been charged with the attack and court documents allege that the congresswoman shooting was a targeted assassination. The alleged assassination attempt has caused a frenzy among lawmakers regarding their safety and security, especially in light of headed political rhetoric. Shuler said that he does not intend to carry a gun in Washington, D.C. however.
D.C. has some of the nation's most strict gun laws. Those laws have been challenged and modified by courts over the years, and they do not prohibit all guns in all situations. However, laws requiring firearm registration remain in place as does D.C.'s assault weapons ban.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, plans to inquire as to whether U.S. Marshals can protect members of Congress as they are used for federal judges. Expect to see increasing calls for new ways to provide lawmakers with additional security.
- Gabrielle Giffords' shooting leads some lawmakers to say they'll carry weapons to protect themselves (NY Daily News)
- Gun Rights: Handgun, Assault Rifle Law Defeated (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)
- Supreme Court Upholds Gun Rights (FindLaw)