Politics

GOP lawmakers dodge metal detectors added after Capitol riots, blast them as an ‘atrocity’

Rep. Lauren Boebert. Katherine Frey / The Washington Post, File

When Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., walked on Tuesday through new metal detectors installed after the Capitol riots, the machines started beeping. But Boebert, who had carried her bag with her through the magnetometers, refused to hand it over. Soon, she was in a standoff with police.

The scene, first chronicled by CNN Congressional reporter Ryan Nobles, was one of many tense interactions between GOP House members and Capitol police over the new security measures.

Some refused to go through the detectors. Others pushed past police after setting off the devices. One legislator even took to the House floor to call the measures “an atrocity.”

The complaints left Democrats fuming that Republicans were more concerned about basic security changes than investigating their party’s role in instigating the riot that necessitated the measures.

“Do these people not understand that literally everyone else has to go through metal detectors to get in here?” tweeted Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. “Average people do not get to bring guns into the United States Capitol in normal times. Get over yourselves.”

The metal detector protests were the latest act of defiance by a GOP faction that supported President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results based on false claims of mass election fraud, a baseless allegation that helped fuel the insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday.

Boebert, who has also faced criticism for tweeting about the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during the riot, is a fervent gun-rights activist who pledged to carry her Glock on the grounds of the Capitol and in Washington.

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Later on Tuesday night, Boebert defended her actions in a tweet.

“I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C. and within the Capitol complex,” she wrote. “Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week – it’s just another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.”

But in a letter to lawmakers earlier on Tuesday informing them of the magnetometers, acting House sergeant at arms Timothy Blodgett reminded members that “pursuant to the firearms regulations that Members received on Opening Day, firearms are restricted to a Member’s Office.”

“Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber,” Blodgett wrote.

Still, a group of GOP lawmakers ignored the new security measures. Matt Fuller, a HuffPost reporter, tweeted that he witnessed about a dozen Republicans walk around the magnetometer, including Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. A handful barreled through, even if they set off the alarm, he reported.

Beyer said he also noticed GOP members trying to skirt the new rules, pointing to Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas.

“Rep. Van Taylor is in front of me as I’m trying to go in to vote, refusing to pass through a metal detector and arguing with U.S. Capitol Police officers about it,” Beyer said in a tweet.

Some lawmakers reportedly grew combative with Capitol police. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., argued that security “cannot stop me,” and Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., cried out “I was physically restrained!” CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted.

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Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said in a tweet that Capitol police were treating lawmakers “like criminals.”

″We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!” she wrote.

On the House floor, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., blasted the metal detectors, calling them an “atrocity” and “appalling.”

“Take note America,” Steube said. “This is what you have to look forward to in the Joe Biden administration.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also slammed the new security rules, claiming that they restricted his constitutional rights.

Some GOP lawmakers also turned their ire on new rules that level fines against members who fail to wear a mask.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-N.Y., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., wore masks with protest messages, with McClintock’s reading “This Mask Is USELESS” and Greene’s bearing the phrase “MOLON LABE,” a Greek term that translates to “come and take [them].” The phrase is known to be a rallying cry for the alt-right.

Democratic House members defended the new security measures, noting that metal detectors are hardly unusual in most Americans’ daily life.

“Now they know how HS students in my district feel,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., tweeted. “Y’all brought this on yourselves.”

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The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.

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