Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to Congress: Leave Guns to Law Enforcement – and We Need Fewer Guns

By Cullen Dirner

Jan 11, 2011 2:27pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With at least two House members saying they intend to arm themselves at events in their districts in the wake of the Tucson tragedy, the man who may know more about Capitol Hill security than anyone else doesn’t think that’s a good idea. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer – who oversees security for the Senate, and who previously served as chief of the Capitol Police – told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today that members of Congress should leave gun-carrying to law enforcement. He also suggested that high-capacity ammunition clips should be kept out of the hands of ordinary citizens. “I'm not denying the right [of members to carry firearms] if that's the law and their particular jurisdiction,” Gainer said. “I think what we have to realize is preventing homicide is a pretty complicated matter. And so the response to that is a bit complicated. “And more cops, more jails, or more guns is not the only answer. Some people need to be locked up, and some people need to carry guns. I happen to think law enforcement are the ones who ought to do that. And we can work on all those other methods together to make sure things are safer.” He added: “I don't think more guns is the solution. I've been a policeman for 42 years, I've been to a lot of homicide scenes — more guns to me is not the answer. On the same token I think having citizens out there with large clips that can hold 32 rounds is not a smart idea either.” Gainer also dismissed a suggestion – put forward by Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. – that a Plexiglass shield be erected to prevent someone in the Capitol’s visitors’ galleries from doing harm to a member of Congress. “Not many of us security types think that's the way we ought to go,” Gainer said. “There's other methods we can prevent people from doing some harm up in those galleries.” He added that credible threats against members of Congress are “relatively rare, given the thousands of interactions that members have with their constituents,” and said Capitol law enforcement authorities “can handle the threat problem.” “Last year we only had 49 [reported threats against senators]; the year before we had 29. I do think there was an up-tick in the beginning of 2010 when there was a debate about healthcare and immigration and, frankly, the war. … I don't think they’re showstoppers. By and large we can handle the threat problem.” Watch the “Top Line” segment with Terrance Gainer HERE: We also checked in with Chris Cillizza, who writes “The Fix” blog for The Washington Post, on the politics of heated rhetoric and gun control. Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE:

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