Rep. Tom Marino’s (R-PA) press secretary was arrested on Friday for bringing a gun into the U.S. Capitol building. Ryan Shucard, press secretary for the congressman, allegedly brought a 9mm handgun and magazine into one of the House office buildings, reports Roll Call, but was promptly stopped by Capitol Police and detained. He is being charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony.
Shucard was placed on unpaid leave that “will last until we know more about the situation,” Marino’s chief of staff, Bill Tighe, told Roll Call. Another official tells the Washington Post that Shucard brought the gun by accident, not with intention. Still, it is not legal anywhere in the District of Columbia — Congress or otherwise — to carry a pistol without a license.
The arrest comes just two days after another member of Congress, however, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) is pushing to change gun laws in the District by denying any appropriations to city government to enforce its own gun laws. Because DC is only a semi-autonomous district and not a state, its laws are in the hands of members of Congress from other districts, like Massie, who sometimes seek to use it as a political playground.
Massie’s appropriations amendment doesn’t actually change DC law, it simply forbids the District from spending its own money on enforcing any gun law, according to the most recent version of the text:
None of the funds made available by this Act, including amounts made available under titles IV or VIII, may be used by any authority of the government of the District of Columbia to enforce any provision of the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Law 17–372), the Inoperable Pistol Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Law 17–388) the Firearms Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Law 19–170), or the Administrative Disposition for Weapons Offenses Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Law 19–295).
Massie’s fellow Kentuckian, Senator Rand Paul, has made similar proposals in the past, tacking onto a bill for DC autonomy two amendments: one saying DC residents need to be able to carry concealed weapons, and another that more firearms dealers should be allowed in the District.
Of course, Massie’s law wouldn’t affect Congressional grounds, because Congress, while in DC, sets its own separate rules. It’s still likely that it would not be allowed for Shucard to bring in a pistol as he did on Friday. Rather, it means that residents in the rest of the District would have to worry about people like Shucard carrying around weapons with no recourse.
Less than a week after Shucard was arrested for carrying a gun into the Capitol complex, another person was taken into police custody on Wednesday, also carrying an unlicensed 9 mm. The incident seems to be unconnected. The man, a veterinarian and board of trustees member for North Carolina State University, had a series of meetings with members of Congress scheduled for the day. He will be charged with a felony.