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House members to be screened for weapons when entering chamber

Katherine Tully-McManus, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — Magnetometers have been installed outside the House floor for the first time ever, the latest fallout from last week’s violent attack on the Capitol in which insurrectionists breached both the House and Senate chambers.

“Effective immediately, all persons, including members, are required to undergo security screening when entering the House chamber,” says a memo from the House Sergeant-at-Arms office.

Metal detectors were erected outside the chamber Tuesday afternoon on the second floor of the Capitol, where House members are usually able to move freely, in large groups and without scrutiny.

Lawmakers are warned that “failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the chamber.”

While magnetometers scan staff, visitors, media and all other entrants at every single external door of the Capitol and office buildings, lawmakers bypass those perimeter checkpoints, stepping around the machines and usually giving a wave to the Capitol Police officers at their station. Now they will need to go through them to access the floor of the House.

The additional security also comes after three freshman GOP lawmakers, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, have made clear their intention to carry their own firearms wherever they please.

 

A 1967 regulation exempts members of Congress from a federal law banning firearms on the Capitol grounds. The weapons are still prohibited on the floor.

“Members are reminded that pursuant to the firearms regulations that Members received on opening day, firearms are restricted to a members’ office,” reads the SAA memo.

Cawthorn didn’t adhere to that guidance on Jan. 6, telling the Smoky Mountain News that when the violent mob breached the Capitol, he had his firearm with him.

He pointed out that his evacuation was more isolated and less protected by Capitol Police due to being in a wheelchair and needing an accessible route to safety.

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