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Reps. Krishnamoorthi, Thompson, Hayes, Dean, and Deutch Call On Acting Attorney General Rosen To Publicly Reaffirm Commitment To Ban On Guns On Capitol Grounds As Groups Plan Armed Demonstrations

January 15, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi, Mike Thompson who chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Jahana Hayes, Madeleine Dean, and Ted Deutch sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Rosen requesting that he publicly reaffirm enforcement Public Law 90-108, which outlaws the possession and use of weapons on U.S. Capitol grounds. In light of the Capitol siege that took place on January 6th, 2021 and the expected riots during inauguration week, the law on weapons near the Capitol building must be enforced.

Many of the rioters who breached the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th were in possession of firearms and explosives. In their letter, the Members cited instances of violent rhetoric by far-right extremists in online networks that encourage the use of weapons for riots in Washington, D.C and specifically encourage individuals to “shoot politicians.” In addition, fliers titled “ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS” have been circulating online.

“Prior to January 6th, District of Columbia officials warned protesters that, under most circumstances, it is illegal to possess firearms in the district. It is also illegal to possess firearms on U.S. Capitol grounds under a law passed in 1967 that carries penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and five years in prison for violations,” the Members wrote. “Unfortunately, not all in attendance heeded these laws, and the country narrowly avoided a mass casualty event involving protesters, Members of Congress, and U.S. Capitol personnel as a result.”

While the Department of Justice has stated it intends to prosecute the violent rioters from January 6th, Representatives Krishnamoorthi, Thompson, Hayes, Dean, and Deutch requested that the Department specifically announce that the law prohibiting the possession of firearms will be enforced at upcoming events in Washington, D.C. Through this letter to the Acting Attorney General, the Members are hoping to clarify Washington, D.C. law to the public and discourage further violence.

The Members requested that the Department of Justice make a public declaration stating the following:

  1. Pursuant to Public Law 90-108, it is unlawful for any person or group of persons
    1. to carry on or have readily accessible to the person of any individual upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings any firearm, dangerous weapon, explosive, or incendiary device; or
    2. to discharge any firearm or explosive, to use any dangerous weapon, or to ignite any incendiary device, upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings; or
    3. to transport by any means upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings any explosive or incendiary device,
    4. and that any violation shall be a felony punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.
  2. The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the above-mentioned law to the fullest extent and will share with Congress classified details of its implementation
  3. The Department of Justice will work collaboratively with Congress to update the abovementioned law, enacted in 1967, to impose penalties commensurate with committing the relevant crimes in 2021.

A copy of the letter is available here.