Rep. Thomas Massie introduced a bill Thursday allowing people with a concealed carry permit from their home state to use that permit while in the District of Columbia following Wednesday's shooting at Republicans' baseball practice.
"What I'm trying to do is anticipate how to avoid a tragic situation in the future, and what the American people don't realize is that most congressmen do not have a security detail, and we are as exposed as the general public is exposed as they come to visit our nation's capital," Massie, R-Ky., said in an interview on Fox Business.
"I don't want to extend a special privilege just to congressmen. I recognize that everyone has the right to defend themselves, and that's in the Constitution."
A gunman, identified as James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers practicing for the annual congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Va.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and three others were hit, and the shooter exchanged gunfire with members of Scalise's security detail, who accompany the No. 3 Republican everywhere he goes.
Republicans and Democrats alike credited those Capitol Hill police officers for saving the lives of those in attendance.
"From the description of the incident yesterday that I've received from my colleagues, it's clear that the Capitol Hill police who were there are heroic," Massie said. "But had Steve Scalise not been there, there would have been far more, would have been fatalities and lot of congressmen would have been hurt."
In the wake of the shooting, Republicans began calling for concealed carry reciprocity for members of Congress.
"I think we need to look at some kind of reciprocity for members here," Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said Wednesday.
Forty-one states currently have at least partial reciprocity laws, including Virginia, where the shooting took place.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said Wednesday he would be carrying his handgun at public events.
"If you look at the vulnerability, I can assure you from this day forward, I have a carrier permit," he said. "I will be carrying when I'm out and about."
Massie's bill would extend reciprocity not only to members of Congress, but to the general public.
So far, Loudermilk and at least five other lawmakers have signed on as a co-sponsor of Massie's bill, an aide for the Kentucky Republican said.
Already, Massie's bill earned the ire of Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who said in a statement Massie is going against calls for unity by "going after" D.C.'s gun laws.
"It took less than a day for Rep. Massie to exploit the shocking targeting of members of Congress and staff to abuse congressional authority over D.C. to undermine our local jurisdiction's gun safety laws," Norton said. "In the wake of an attack, Rep. Massie is shamefully using the District as political fodder to advance the NRA-backed goal of moving toward national concealed carry reciprocity."
"If Rep. Massie was true to his principles, he would introduce a bill to allow guns in the Capitol Complex and other federal buildings, where his jurisdiction is without question."
Massie, in response, said despite Norton's objections, Congress can exercise its authority over the District.
"The delegate from D.C. may seek to prevent her constituents from exercising their right to self-defense, but she lacks constitutional authority to deny that right to all those who visit the nation's capital," he said in a statement. "The Constitution is clear on Congress's jurisdiction over D.C."
Massie's legislation is almost identical to a bill introduced by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., last year.
Called the D.C. Personal Protection Reciprocity Act, Schweikert's bill had 38 co-sponsors—Massie wasn't one of them—and was backed by the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.
That legislation required D.C. to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states. The bill also required the District to issue concealed carry licenses to people who are already licensed in another state.
For those living in states that don't issue concealed carry permits, Massie said people would be able to apply for a non-resident permit in D.C.
"It makes it slightly easier for you to get one of those non-resident permits in Washington, D.C.," he said.