State Rep. Owens asks Speaker to ban guns from House chamber

01/11/2011 02:05 PM

State Rep. Darryl T. Owens, D-Louisville, told Pure Politics Tuesday that he has sent a letter to House Speaker Greg Stumbo asking him to ban individuals from carrying guns into the state House chamber.

Owens sent a two-sentence letter to Stumbo on Monday referencing the weekend’s shooting in Arizona in which a gunman critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people, including one of Giffords’ staff members and a  federal judge.

“Current events suggest this would be a prudent step to take for the safety of the House,” Owens wrote.

Stumbo’s spokesman, Brian Wilkerson, said the Democratic leaders are “still weighing options at this time but will have more to say later.”

Stumbo declined to implement a ban last March after reports surfaced that a man wore a holstered gun into the gallery while watching the House session. Stumbo said at the time that lawmakers who wanted a ban had raised a serious issue but declined to implement it after the House Democratic caucus took a closed-door vote not to exclude them.

Owens said Tuesday in the taping of a segment for Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics that the unidentified man and a companion walked right by him guns in holsters. (The full interview with Owens will air on Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics at 7 p.m. and again at 11:30 p.m. EST).

“It’s a shooting gallery. We’re all down there on the floor,” Owens said in the interview. “You don’t have to be a good shot to hit any of us.”

He said “given the environment and given the most recent events, I think the prudent thing” would be to protect lawmakers, the staff and the public by imposing a firearms ban in the House chamber.

Owens said it could be done by a House rule or potentially by law or even constitutional amendment.

Former Gov. Paul Patton signed an executive order prohibiting people from brining guns into the Capitol while he was in office but the legislature voted to undo that in 1997.

- Ryan Alessi

Here is Owens’ letter to Stumbo:


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