Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ignorance is showing again. Her latest gaffe is proclaiming “guns are not allowed in the District of Columbia…” in a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo, brother, of course, to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also no stranger to gun control causes.
That might come as a shock to those gun owners living in the District of Columbia. It might also come as a shock to the only federal firearms licensee – DC Security Associates. For that matter, someone might want to explain that to the police department itself, which became the sole licensee for a brief period of time.
If You’re a Lawmaker, Know the Laws
Still, that confusion doesn’t make Rep. Ocasio-Cortez correct, not by a long shot. The District of Columbia’s attempt to deny guns inside the District failed miserably. That resulted in the landmark Heller decision, which affirmed the Second Amendment is an individual right and local authorities cannot ban entire classes of commonly-owned firearms.
Before the case, Washington, D.C. had banned the possession of handguns. In subsequent litigation, the federal courts have ordered that the District must issue licenses to carry firearms to qualified, law-abiding citizens.
That put an end to DC’s ban on handguns. In fact, more than 4,000 people have obtained concealed carry permits from the D.C. police department, which requires hours of classroom instruction and range certification. Over half of those in the last fiscal year were for residents who live outside the District, according to a Washington Post report.
That might end the discussion on whether it’s lawful to exercise fundamental rights in the federal enclave where the nation’s elected representatives meet. It didn’t put an end to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s ignorance of the law, however.
The congresswoman was making her wildly incorrect remark when she was explaining why she didn’t attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration. She said she didn’t feel safe since fellow members of Congress were asserting their right to keep and bear arms. This is where she might have been confused.
Firearm possession within the Capitol Hill complex is forbidden for everyone except Members of Congress and law enforcement. While Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is throwing up metal detectors and having U.S. Representatives get wanded down every time they go into the House chamber to cast their votes, this notion that Members of Congress can’t have guns in the Capitol is bunk.
The last time this came up was in 2015, when Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.) took all appropriate steps to hang an American-flag themed Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) in his Capitol Hill office. It was unloaded, the bolt removed and disabled with a trigger lock. Gun control politicians clutched their pearls and shrieked that such an abomination couldn’t be tolerated. Except that it can.
“Members of Congress may maintain firearms within the confines of their office,” explained Kimberly Schneider, a spokesperson for Capitol Hill police, “and they and any employee or agent of any member of Congress may transport within the Capitol Grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped.”
The same rule also explains that 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.”
Just so we’re keeping it easy to understand…guns are legal in Washington, D.C. and Members of Congress can have guns in their office. Rules adopted by the House of Representatives forbids them on the floor of the House chamber, in the respective lobbies and cloakroom or designated rooms.
Blinded by Bias
This isn’t the first-time Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s ignorance of federal firearm laws has been on full display. She infamously accused fellow Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) of wanting to lend firearms to “people unsupervised who can’t pass a background check.” In the same tweet, she accused any friends of Rep. Crenshaw to “have likely abused their spouse or have a violent criminal record, & you may not know it.”
If Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez took time to understand the Constitution she’s sworn to defend, or the laws she purports to understand and advance, she would know that it’s a felony to knowingly transfer a firearm to a prohibited individual. This includes domestic abusers.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s comments in which she bungled gun laws and Constitutional rights started with her saying that she didn’t feel safe and claimed many other Members of Congress agreed with her. She didn’t offer any other names or even attempt at putting a number on it. She did willingly ignore that a concern for safety is exactly why more than 8.4 million people purchased a firearm for the first time last year, among the 21 million background checks for a gun sale.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has sponsored 29 bills and amendments. None of her bills have passed the House of Representatives, controlled by her fellow Democrats. Only two of her amendments have passed, one by voice vote and one by recorded vote. A courtesy she might want to consider on behalf of the people she’s elected to represent would be to understand the laws before she attempts to destroy them.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.