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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

More theater in the name of security

In the wake of the Capitol being overrun last week, “the most visible safety measure yet put in place” by House Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett is to put metal detectors in place at the entrances to the House floor.

For all other entrance screenings, such as at office buildings, Members of Congress have been not been required to pass through those screenings. (Interestingly, the late Sen. Tom Coburn would go through them.)

How would this have changed the incident last week?

The Capitol Police originally treated Wednesday as a First Amendment protest event that near immediately went beyond that scope in terms of the response necessary. Several layers of security were breached like dominoes falling on each other. Metal detector screening posts at building entrances had to have been largely abandoned inside the building.

Yes, the trespassers made it to the doors of each Chamber. Are we to believe that the missing defense was another round of personal screening as a last line of defense at the Chamber doors after officers had already turned to relocating and securing Members of Congress?

If this action is taken in relation to the incident last week, it seems to fall short.

What are the other possible effects of this action?

By requiring Members of Congress to be screened, this becomes a method of denying those who exercise their Second Amendment constitutional rights access to fulfilling their Constitutional duty to vote on the floor on behalf of their constituents.

Take, for instance, Rep. Lauren Boebert. She carries in compliance with district rules. Both the incident in the Capitol and the failure of law enforcement to contain it demonstrate the wisdom of exercising her constitutional right to self-defense.

The decision to install metal detectors at House floor entrances forces Representatives like Lauren Boebert to choose between constitutional rights and constitutional duties. That is wrong.

No one in the House chamber was the threat. They were threatened. Reducing the right of people to defend themselves makes them less safe.

At best, this is theater to create an illusion of security. At worst, this is a method of conditioning those who should be guardians of our constitutional rights to the surrendering of those rights. That is unacceptable.

What about situations like Joint Sessions or Meetings of Congress? Will Senators be denied entry to the Hall of the House until screened? Will Supreme Court Justices be subject to screening prior to attending a State of the Union address?

Adding more work for the Capitol Police does not address their failures in the work they already had and creates other problems for the House.

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