Arizona shooting: How safe are members of Congress?
Members of Congress called for more civil discourse and suspended some legislative business after the deadly Arizona shooting, a tragic reminder of the risks of public life.
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Saturday’s shootings at a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway in Tucson was a stark reminder of the risks of public life. The US Capitol significantly upgraded security after the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax attacks at the Capitol 34 days later.
But when members meet with constituents back in their home districts, they are outside that security network – and only rarely with security provided by US Capitol Police. backing.
“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday. “All of us in our current roles in public service know that it comes with a risk. No act, however heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty.”
Mr. Boehner, who has been speaker for five days, called for flags to be flown at half staff in honor of Gabe Zimmerman, Representative Giffords’ director of community outreach, who was killed at the scene along with five others, including federal district judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, in a statement released last Saturday, announced that all legislation scheduled to be considered this week, including a vote to repeal the health-care reform law, is postponed “so that we can take whatever actions may be necessary in light of today’s tragedy.”
The US Capitol Police declined to comment on the incidence of past threats to members of Congress or on plans for their security. “We don’t discuss security or statistics publicly,” said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the US Capitol Police in a phone interview. But she confirmed that the force has 1,800 sworn police officers who “do at times travel with member of Congress.”