Guns in the Capitol?

Bring your guns. Leave your umbrellas.

By Genie Leslie January 30, 2014

When we posted about Tuesday’s gun initiatives hearing in Olympia, many of you noticed a very strange thing: It's apparently a-okay to carry guns into the Capitol building. Creeped out by the picture of the man carrying a hunting rifle (and wearing blue latex gloves), I decided to get to the bottom of this unnerving phenomenon.

Gun rights advocate at yesterday's hearing in Olympia. Photo by Josh Feit.

I spoke with the Chief Clerk at the House of Representatives Barbara Baker and, as it turns out, there really aren’t any rules about carrying guns into the Capitol building. In the state of Washington, a person can carry a concealed firearm in a public setting as long as they have a license for doing so and have it with them.

“We live in a state where the field of gun control is controlled by our statute, and in the statute regarding guns there are a few places where guns are specifically prohibited: courtrooms, bars, schools. The Legislature is not included in that statute. It’s a public place.”

Bullets, however, are not protected by the second amendment, so when people come into the Capitol and go through security, they are generally asked to remove the magazines, or to position the gun in such a way that it would take several movements to fire it. The idea, clearly, is that security’s gonna take you down before you can fire. I hope security is keeping its eye on armed visitors.

But don't worry. There are plenty of other "dangerous" items banned from the Capitol and the legislative gallery: umbrellas, food, and strollers, for example.




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