Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that members of the House who are avoiding metal detectors while entering the US House are “endangering” their fellow members.
Her comments come as the AP and other outlets reported that Rep. Andy Harris set off the metal detectors on Thursday. Harris reportedly was in possession of a firearm at the time.
The AP reported that Harris attempted to hand the firearm off to a colleague, but the colleague refused due to not being permitted. Harris then returned 10 minutes later and did not set off the detectors.
“Because his and his family’s lives have been threatened by someone who has been released awaiting trial, for security reasons, the congressman never confirms whether he nor anyone else he’s with are carrying a firearm for self-defense,'' Harris’ office said in a statement to the AP. "As a matter of public record, he has a Maryland Handgun Permit. And the congressman always complies with the House metal detectors and wanding.”
Following the attack at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, metal detectors were installed outside of the House chambers, and there are no exceptions on who is allowed to bypass the metal detectors.
This upset some Republican members of the House, some of whom attempted to bypass the metal detectors.
In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently proposed that there be consequences for members who do not go through the screening. Pelosi said that a first offense of not going through a metal detector will result in a $5,000 fine, while a second offense will cost a member $10,000. The money will be deducted directly from members’ salary.
The fines have to be approved by House members, which will likely be considered in February.
Ocasio-Cortez told CNN that there are a number of members who feel unsafe around other representatives.
"You are openly disobeying the rules that we have established as a community, which means that you cannot be trusted to be held accountable to what we've decided as a community,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN.“And so I don't really care what they say their intentions are, I care what the impact of their actions are, and the impact is to put all 435 members of Congress in danger."
But several Republican members have rebutted that the metal detectors are improper.
”For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through,” said Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona. “These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!”
Members of the House are permitted to carry a firearm in the Capitol as long as they have a permit, but are barred from carrying a gun on the House floor.