An unknown number of House members do carry concealed weapons into their Washington offices -- and it's totally legal, according to congressional officials.
Under a 1967 Police Board regulation, congressional lawmakers are allowed to bring guns into their offices.
And because they walk around security screenings, nobody knows who carries and how many are armed.
The issue of letting lawmakers carry guns came up Wednesday after the shooting of House Whip Steve Scalise and others as they practiced for a charity baseball game.
Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk said members should be allowed to carry guns, which he said is unlawful. "We aren't any more special than anybody else, but we're targets," Loudermilk said. "This is exactly why there's a lot of fear of doing town halls at this point," added Loudermilk, a member of the Republican baseball team.
But the rules, governed in the House by the Sergeant at Arms, allows members to carry guns. They are not allowed to bring them into the House Chamber or some other areas, though they are not screened going into those areas. Staff can't carry weapons on the Capitol complex, however.
The issue was raised at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing last year by former Democratic Rep. Sam Farr, during which Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said that some members armed, but "We don't know that number."
Former Rep. Sam Farr: "With all this security, how many members of Congress carry weapons?"
Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving: "We don't know that number."
Farr: "I thought it was against the law to bring a weapon into the Capitol."
Irving: "There's statutory authority within the Capitol. For example they can bring firearms to their office. I can provide you with all that information. And because of that, as you know, we don't screen members, we just have no…"
Farr: "You have no idea?"
Farr: "So you take all our staff, and you've got to go through double, triple inspection, but members can walk in here with a weapon and you don't even know if they have it, they get away with it."
Irving: "That's the statute."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org