Congressmen Shuler & Chaffetz will be packing heat at public events

 

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) have announced their intentions to carry concealed weapons at public events in their home districts after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). So far, the duo are the only members of the House (out of 435 representatives) who have publicly proclaimed their packing heat status as a measure of self-protection.

While Shuler and Chaffetz have reportedly faced threats in the past and both are licensed to carry concealed weapons in their respective states, their decisions to bring guns to work-related functions raise questions on how to balance the constituents’ access to elected officials while ensuring public safety in an open democracy. Rep. Chaffetz and Rep. Shuler may feel safer and more secure carrying their weapons in public, but such action could send the wrong the message to consituents and make them less approachable to the general public. Ask yourself this: Would you feel completely comfortable engaging in a spirited debate on hot-button issues with your elected representative if you knew he was carrying a loaded gun and could use it the moment he perceives any provocation?

It was unfortunate that Rep. Giffords was gunned down while meeting her constituents. However, lawmakers should refrain from hasty knee-jerk reactions that could intimidate, hassle or discourage constituents from interacting with their elected representatives and participating in the civic and political process.

 

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