Lawmakers slam Capitol Police over cases of unattended guns

Reuters News
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Posted: May 01, 2015 4:50 PM

By Emily Stephenson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Loaded guns reportedly left behind in a bathroom and elsewhere by U.S. Capitol Police officers led lawmakers on Friday to demand answers from the force that protects Congress, the latest in a series of security blunders in official Washington.

The senior Republican and Democrat on the House of Representatives panel that oversees the Capitol Police demanded to know how the weapons were left unsecured and what was being done to prevent it happening again.

"The fact that dangerous weapons were left in the open, potentially within reach of the general public, is unacceptable," Republican Candice Miller and Democrat Robert Brady, of the House Administration Committee, said in a statement.Roll Call, a Washington newspaper that reports primarily on Capitol Hill, reported on Friday about three instances in which officers left loaded guns behind.

In one case, the paper said, a child visiting the Capitol with his parents found a Glock handgun in the bathroom of House Speaker John Boehner's office suite.

Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said in a statement the office's inspector general was examining the situation. She did not elaborate on the incidents being reviewed, saying they should not have been made public.

Several lawmakers expressed frustration. "If this were my business, this would be corrected today," Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican, told reporters. "When you deal with weapons, there is no room for error."

The Capitol Police already had taken heat after a Florida man flying a small gyrocopter landed it unimpeded on the Capitol lawn. No one was hurt, but lawmakers said the situation showed flaws in the building's security.

The U.S. Secret Service, which protects the president and other key leaders, came under scrutiny after people and, in one case, a small drone made it over the White House fence and onto the lawn of President Barack Obama's residence.

Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight panel, said the Capitol Police, like the Secret Service, needed to be put under a "high-powered microscope" in light of the mistakes.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Lawder; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Andrew Hay)