In response to Saturday's shooting spree in Tucscon, Rep. Peter King (R, N.Y.) has announced that he's planning on introducing legislation to make it illegal for American citizens to knowingly carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of a member of Congress. King told THE WEEKLY STANDARD over the phone this afternoon that his proposal came out of discussions he had with New York police over the weekend. “If [Rep. Giffords] had had a tight security detail with her, could they have stopped this guy?” King says he asked New York cops. “They would say, ‘No, they probably couldn’t have stopped him from shooting her. They probably could have stopped him from shooting most of the rest of the people.' They said maybe the one way he maybe could have stopped him in advance was if it appeared he had a gun on him ... if he had a bulge in his pocket ... by whatever movements he made or whatever. They could have gone over and questioned the guy to see if he had a gun. They couldn’t do that in Tucson because you’re allowed to carry a gun.”
King said there would be "reasonable exceptions" to the law. For example, I pointed out that in Tucson on Saturday, a man named Joseph Zamudio was at a nearby Walgreen's and carrying a handgun when he heard shots ring out. He responded by rushing toward the scene to stop Jared Lee Loughner, who had already been disarmed by on attendee who hit Loughner with a folding chair and another who tackled him. Wouldn't Zamudio's actions have been illegal under King's proposed law? “After the shots were fired?" King replied. "The law’s not written yet, and we are talking about reasonable exceptions," such as allowing shop owners to keep their weapons in their store that a congressman frequents. “I would say a good faith response to a crime by a person who was not knowingly bringing a gun to an event in the first place, yeah, that would be a reasonable exception.”
But wouldn't it make sense to allow people like Joseph Zamudio--sane, law-abiding, armed citizens--to attend events where they might be able to stop a shooter in the act--rather than after the fact? “I would say that, if we are going to have more security at an event like this, that the police and law enforcement be in charge of who’s firing weapons," King replied. "I would prefer not to see a shootout if we’re talking about federal officials being at an event. I would rather leave that to the police.“
And how would police determine whether someone was knowingly or unkowingly carrying a weapon that close to a congressman?
"If there’s a big sign up—'Congressman So-and-So’s having an event,' and they’re pushing to get in, then they’re knowingly trying to get into the event," King said. "For instance, the situation in Tucson, where they’re walking through a shopping center and Congresswoman Giffords is having the event, a police officer sees a person may have a gun. He goes over and sees that person and tell him he has to leave." If an individual were unknowingly carrying a gun near a congressman, the law would enable a police officer to ask that individual to leave, not arrest or fine them. King emphasized that the legislation is "a work in progress."
King said he's open to supporting other gun control legislation. Asked if he would support a ban on high-capacity magazines, King replied: “I may. Not necessarily because of this event.... I have to look at it more carefully.”