Yesterday I argued that Congress should respond to the shooting in Arizona by encouraging staff members to exercise their Second Amendment rights, going through a professional training program on self-defense and obtaining their concealed carry permits. But if you want to see the opposite suggestion, it comes from anti-gun New York Republican Congressman Peter King, who intends to introduce legislation which would ban people from carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of a member of Congress. Politico reports:
Under federal law, it’s illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. King wants to apply that same standard to federal offices, including the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal judges.
This is a ludicrous idea for a number of reasons, and it's in keeping with Rep. King's generally ham-handed approach to political issues.
This type of ban strikes me as being of questionable constitutionality, and even more questionable practicality.
Conservative politicians routinely participate in hunting and gun range activities -- I've gone shooting with a number of Governors and Senators -- and the idea that people in their vicinity and beyond (1,000 feet is quite a ways) could be arrested simply for legally possessing a firearm is incredibly silly and a recipe for all sorts of violations of this law.
Schools, airports, and government buildings where restrictions apply on gun possession are all set in a single place -- they aren't roving locations where the Second Amendment does not apply. In contrast, King's law would create bubbles of illegality around politicians themselves! What would happen when a Texas Congressman attends a county fair? You'd have to arrest the attendees from the Ferris Wheel all the way to the Cotton Candy stand.
Does Rep. King think that this law would have done anything to prevent the shooting of Rep. Giffords? Does he honestly think that Jared Loughner would've surrendered his firearm, or admitted to carrying it, if confronted within 1,000 feet of the congresswoman? Would he set up TSA-like checkpoints just in order to attend a town hall or other public event for any representative of the people, which is what it would take to enforce this law? Of course not. In fact, the only person we know for sure who admitted to carrying on the scene is Joe Zamudio, a civilian buying cigarettes in a Walgreen's in the same shopping center -- perhaps within 1,000 feet? -- who ran to the sound of the gunfire and helped subdue the assailant.
Congratulations, Rep. King -- you just made it easier for the bad guys.
King's law is classic political idiocy of the worst sort: legislation timed to exploit outrage while doing nothing to solve a problem. If passed into law, it would disarm the law-abiding citizen, turn your average hunter into a criminal if they wandered into the wrong parking lot, and provide no barrier whatsoever to would-be assassins.