Gun-slinging G-man-turned-Republican Rep. Michael Grimm wants beefed up security training for him and his House colleagues in the wake of last weekend’s Arizona shootings — and lesson one is that lawmakers should consider packing heat.
“If they feel comfortable with that responsibility, then I support them,” he said. “It could put you in a situation where you can protect yourself.”
On Tuesday, Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) told his new boss, House Speaker John Boehner (R–Ohio), that new members of Congress need “security-based situational awareness training” to put them on better footing against assailants.
“Many newly selected members of Congress have never been in the spotlight,” Grimm wrote. “I firmly believe this training will be beneficial in various situations, from accidents and illnesses to acts of violence or terrorism they may encounter.”
A former FBI agent, Grimm thinks fellow politicians should take safety into their own hands. The training he advocates includes how to spot suspicious people, knowing when to bolt for an exit and how to keep guards in your eyesight — safety tactics he wants newbie lawmakers to learn at an orientation.
Security and training has not been part of an orientation for newcomers in past years, although the Capitol police force has stressed the importance of reporting threats and using local law enforcement. Weapons training has never been part of the orientation — nor should it be, Grimm said.
Given his military and law enforcement past, the city’s lone Congressional Republican is certainly handy with a weapon — though he declined to say whether he carries a heater today.
“I’m not supposed to talk about that,” he said — though he did talk about the benefits of gun ownership.
“If somebody pulls out a knife to attack you and you draw a gun, they’re likely going to drop it,” he said. “But you have to be prepared to kill; it’s not for everyone.”
The buzz about protecting representatives comes days after a crazed gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D–Ariz.), leaving her in critical condition. After the tragedy, gun-toting Rep. Heath Shuler (D–NC) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R–Utah) announced they plan to carry guns, presumably for personal protection.
But several members of Congress and other DC insiders said on Wednesday that they are uncomfortable with bodyguards and intense security because they want to stay accessible to constituents.
“Putting more guns in the mix is not the answer,” Terrance Gainer, Senate sergeant at arms, told CNN.
Speaker Boehner called Grimm’s letter “an excellent idea,” and added that security will be a big focus in the House this year.
It already is for Grimm. At his ceremonial swearing-in on Sunday, Grimm told the crowd that he’ll increase security at all his events.
“It’s not for myself, but for all our volunteers and supporters,” he said.