A newly-elected Colorado congresswoman, who owns a gun-themed restaurant, has enquired with US Capitol police about being able to carry her firearm on the grounds of the federal building, her office has said.
Republican Lauren Boebert, 33, who will represent Colorado's 3rd congressional district, enquired about carrying her weapon while attending orientation programs in Washington, two congressional officials told the Associated Press.
Both officials, a Democrat and a Republican, requested anonymity.
Boebert aide Laura Carno told the agency last week: “This was a private discussion and inquiry about what the rules are, and as a result the Congresswoman-Elect won’t be going on the record.”
Ms Boebert, who gained attention during the election as an unabashed, pro-gun activist with a Glock pistol strapped to her hip, defeated five-term Rep Scott Tipton for the Republican nomination in June.
The newly-elected representative also faced scrutiny over her remarks in support of the QAnon conspiracy theory, but has since tried to distance herself from the group.
Donald Trump endorsed Ms Boebert as “a fighter” who will “never bow down to the establishment in Congress”.
The practice of gun-carrying is allowed in the building for lawmakers under decades-old congressional regulations with certain limitations. The public is barred from carrying weapons in the Capitol, its grounds, and office buildings.
A 1967 regulation specifies that neither federal nor District of Columbia laws restricting firearms “shall prohibit any Member of Congress from maintaining firearms within the confines of his office” or “from transporting within Capitol grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped”.
Lawmakers may not bring weapons into the House chamber and other nearby areas, the AP reported.
Gun control remains a passionate and contentious issue for both Democrats and Republicans, with images of anti-lock down protesters brandishing firearms in Michigan’s State Capitol bringing the issue once again to the forefront of public debate.
When Democrats on the House Committee on Administration asked in 2018 how many lawmakers carry firearms in the Capitol, officials said in a written response that they’ve “been made aware” of inquiries about carrying weapons.
“There is no standing requirement” that lawmakers notify them when they carry a firearm in the Capitol, the officials wrote, adding that the responsibility of safe storage of weapons, as per the regulations, “resides with the Member.”
Rep Jared Huffman, who made an effort in 2018 to halt the practice, said the regulations for lawmakers, adopted after a summer of racial unrest in American cities, is outdated and risky.
He accused members and their staff of carrying firearms around the Capitol “all the time,” but specified no names.
“Members could have a loaded AK47 sitting on their desk and no one would ever do anything about it,” Rep Huffman said.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki did not respond to the AP’s questions about the department’s communications with Ms Boebert and the number of lawmakers who carry firearms.
Reporting by the Associated Press
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