The Washington Post

Har­ris car­ries firearm near cham­ber

Capi­tol Po­lice in­ves­ti­gate after Md. con­gress­man sets off metal de­tec­tor

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The U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice de­part­ment has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion after Rep. Andy Har­ris (R-MD.) set off a mag­ne­tome­ter near the House cham­ber while car­ry­ing a con­cealed gun Thurs­day af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to a Hill staffer with knowl­edge of the in­ci­dent.

Har­ris set off the mag­ne­tome­ter — in­stalled after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capi­tol — as he was on his way to the cham­ber, lead­ing se­cu­rity to pat him down, said the staffer, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not authorized to speak about the in­ci­dent.

“One se­cu­rity of­fi­cial present saw a firearm on the per­son of Rep. Har­ris and re­layed that to his su­pe­ri­ors,” the staffer said in a text mes­sage. “To be clear, Har­ris did not en­ter the Floor.”

Eva Malecki, a spokes­woman

for the Capi­tol Po­lice, said the agency is “in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter” but de­clined to elab­o­rate, say­ing she could not dis­cuss an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A spokesman for Har­ris, 63, a six-term con­gress­man who lives in Bal­ti­more County, did not an­swer ques­tions about the in­ci­dent. He in­stead of­fered a state­ment that Har­ris’s chief of staff, Bryan Shuy, sent Fox Bal­ti­more on Thurs­day night:

“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,” Shuy wrote. “As a mat­ter of pub­lic record, he has a Mary­land Hand­gun Per­mit. And

the con­gress­man al­ways com­plies with the House metal de­tec­tors and wand­ing. The Con­gress­man has never car­ried a firearm on the House floor.”

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are not al­lowed to carry guns on Capi­tol grounds. But mem­bers of Congress may keep firearms in their of­fices or trans­port them on the Capi­tol grounds if they are un­loaded and se­curely wrapped. Law­mak­ers are not al­lowed to bring guns into ei­ther the House or Se­nate cham­bers.

It is un­clear why Har­ris had the gun with him Thurs­day, two weeks after a vi­o­lent mob stormed past law en­force­ment and into the build­ing.

A Huf­fpost con­gres­sional re­porter who wit­nessed part of the in­ci­dent, Matt Fuller, re­ported that Har­ris lin­gered near the el­e­va­tors after se­cu­rity turned him away. He then tried to ask an­other law­maker, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) to take the gun for him.

Katko re­fused, Fuller re­ported, say­ing he did not have “a li­cense.” Har­ris left the area and re­turned sev­eral min­utes later, suc­cess­fully go­ing through the mag­ne­tome­ter and pro­ceed­ing onto the House floor. Katko’s of­fice did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

On Fri­day, Yvette Lewis, chair of the Mary­land Demo­cratic Party, called on Har­ris to re­sign, call­ing him “an em­bar­rass­ment to our state and to the good peo­ple of the first district.”

For­mer Mary­land state del­e­gate Heather Mizeur said on Face­book that Har­ris’s be­hav­ior on Thurs­day and since the Capi­tol siege “has stirred some­thing deep within me” — lead­ing her to think se­ri­ously about chal­leng­ing Har­ris in 2022.

Mizeur, who un­suc­cess­fully sought the 2014 Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial nom­i­na­tion, would face an up­hill climb in Har­ris’s solidly red district. She said she first started think­ing about run­ning when he ob­jected to Bi­den’s elec­toral vic­tory and nearly got into a phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion with an­other law­maker dur­ing the de­bate on the elec­toral col­lege vote.

She also crit­i­cized Har­ris for say­ing he would seek a sev­enth term, de­spite pledg­ing a decade ago not to stay in of­fice for more than six terms.

The gun in­ci­dent, Mizeur said, was “the tip­ping point.”

Har­ris, the only Repub­li­can in the Mary­land con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion, took of­fice in 2011 rep­re­sent­ing Mary­land’s East­ern Shore as well as parts of Car­roll, Harford and Bal­ti­more coun­ties. A staunch ally of for­mer pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the prac­tic­ing anes­the­si­ol­o­gist par­roted Trump’s false claims of elec­tion fraud. He is a mem­ber of the House’s most con­ser­va­tive group, the House Free­dom Cau­cus, and has been a tena­cious op­po­nent of D.C. au­ton­omy, mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion, pan­demic re­stric­tions and stay-home or­ders.

Har­ris’s gun in­ci­dent is the lat­est to heap scru­tiny on law­mak­ers who may be car­ry­ing weapons at the Capi­tol. Some Repub­li­cans have ex­pressed out­rage about the in­stal­la­tion of the metal de­tec­tors in the wake of the riot and in a few cases have blown through them and re­fused to co­op­er­ate with searches after set­ting them off.

Fresh­man Rep. Lau­ren Boe­bert (R- Colo.), who has pledged to carry her Glock in Washington and around Congress, re­port­edly would not let of­fi­cers search her bag after set­ting off the metal de­tec­tor Jan. 12.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) said Fri­day that when the House is back in ses­sion next month, they will vote to fine law­mak­ers $5,000 if they refuse to co­op­er­ate with a metal-de­tec­tor screen­ing. A sec­ond of­fense could lead to a $10,000 fine. “It is sad that this step is nec­es­sary, but the dis­re­spect­ful and dan­ger­ous re­fusal of some Repub­li­can Mem­bers to ad­here to ba­sic safety pre­cau­tions for our Con­gres­sional Com­mu­nity — including our Capi­tol Po­lice — is un­ac­cept­able,” Pelosi wrote in a memo to col­leagues.

 ?? JACQUELYN MARTIN/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS ?? Rep. Andy Har­ris’s chief of staff said the Mary­land Repub­li­can has never car­ried a gun on the House floor. Mem­bers of Congress may keep guns in of­fices but may not bring them into the cham­bers.
JACQUELYN MARTIN/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Rep. Andy Har­ris’s chief of staff said the Mary­land Repub­li­can has never car­ried a gun on the House floor. Mem­bers of Congress may keep guns in of­fices but may not bring them into the cham­bers.

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