ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Peter King, R-New York, announced today that he will introduce a bill that would ban knowingly carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials.
[Mayor Michael Bloomberg] and I have discussed that we are introducing in the next several weeks legislation which would make it a federal crime to carry a weapon within 1,000 feet of any event which is attended by the President, the Vice President, members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives, Cabinet officials, including the CIA director as well as federal judges,” King announced this morning at City Hall in New York City.
The attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, and the subsequent shooting that killed six people last weekend is the first notable assassination attempt of a public official that transpired into a mass shooting.
King said the legislation, which is still being written, is not only about protecting federal officials, but also about protecting the public at events with public officials.
In the United States, it is illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. Passing a similar law in the proximity of government officials would give federal, state, and local law enforcement a better chance to intercept potential gunmen before they pull the trigger, according to King.
“Right now you have situations such in Tucson, where a person is allowed to carry a weapon without a permit, and authorities have no power to even pat that person down or question them,” King said. “To me, it’s absolutely essential –not just to protect the individuals involved – not that members are a special class. The fact is they do represent the people who elect them.”
King is the first Republican to introduce gun-control legislation in the wake of Saturday’s shooting. Others, including gun control advocate Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, have also said they will introduce legislation aimed at cracking down on firearms.
“It’s essential if we’re going to be able to continue to have contact and to have conversation between the public and the elected officials, that the public who is at these meetings who is at these meetings can be assured of their own safety,” King added.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited the Virginia Tech massacre along with the Tragedy in Tucson for exposing flaws in a “broken” background check system and called on the Congress to act to fix it.
“Just as we saw after Virginia Tech, the Arizona tragedy has once again exposed fatal cracks in our background check system,” Bloomberg said. “The law says that drug abusers can't buy guns, but even though Jared Loughner was rejected by the military for drug use and arrested on drug charges, he was able to pass a background check and buy a gun. It should be clear to everyone that the system is broken and it is time for our leaders in Washington to step up and fix it.”