Some Republican members of Congress are trying to downplay the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by claiming that no guns belonging to members of the pro-Trump mob were confiscated by police.
Police records reviewed by The Uprising show that at least four guns were confiscated from people who were arrested during the unrest that day as supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol dome to protest certification of President Biden’s election victory.
Some Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — are currently opposing efforts to establish a commission to investigate the Capitol riot. The House of Representatives, including 35 Republicans, voted in favor of the commission proposal on Wednesday. However, given McConnell’s opposition, it is unclear whether the proposal will pass the Senate. Amid the debate, several members of the GOP have criticized efforts to examine the attack as excessive and partisan.
One argument that has been repeated in these efforts to block a formal commission is that no guns were taken from the rioters who stormed the Capitol. The police records prove that claim to be demonstrably false.
During a House Oversight Committee Hearing Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) claimed there were “zero firearms” taken from January 6 rioters. Days later, during a local radio interview with WDUN’s Martha Zoller, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) made similar claims as he defended his controversial comment from the hearing that many of the crowds looked like a “normal tourist visit.” Clyde acknowledged there was an “undisciplined mob” with “some rioters” on January 6, but he also claimed they had no guns.
“But let me be clear, all right, there was no insurrection,” Clyde said. “I mean, Martha, there were no firearms in the Capitol. At least not from the mob and those who were violent in the capitol… there were no firearms!”
Asked about these comments, the DC Metropolitan Police Department directed The Uprising to its list of recent “unrest-related” arrests. A review of that data shows at least four people were arrested with firearms in conjunction with “unrest” in DC on January 6.
The vast majority of the rioters were allowed to disperse without being arrested, and so it’s impossible to say how many of them may have been armed. The Department of Justice has charged over 400 people total for their roles in the January 6 riot.
Clyde and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment about the police-provided evidence that contradicts their claims.
According to the DC MPD, one person, Christopher Alberts, was arrested at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on January 6. He was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, possessing a firearm on Capitol grounds, violating the curfew that was imposed as the attack unfolded, possession of unregistered ammunition, and “possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device.” Alberts was previously identified by a local newspaper as a vocal Trump supporter who regularly took part in protests outside the former president’s private club in New Jersey.
The other three people who police identified as having weapons during the unrest were not at the Capitol complex itself. According to the department’s data, two Virginia men were charged with carrying a pistol without a license and “possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device” after being arrested outside of a Downtown DC hotel that had become a flashpoint for protests and gathering place for far right groups. That hotel, the Harrington, is about a block away from DC’s Trump Hotel, which is also a regular haunt for the former president’s supporters.
Based on the police data, a fourth person, Logan Grimes, was also arrested and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, “possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device,” and possession of unregistered ammunition on January 6. Grimes’ arrest occurred in Downtown DC, and his father has claimed he was not part of the protests. Prosecutors declined to proceed with the charges against Grimes.
In addition to the four people who were arrested and charged with gun possession that day, two others were listed as having an unspecified “prohibited weapon.” Overall, according to the police data, 60 people were arrested during the unrest on January 6. That figure includes people who were arrested at the Capitol, in Downtown DC, and along the National Mall.
Before the Capitol was breached, President Trump spoke at a rally on the National Mall and urged the crowd to “fight like hell” and said he expected them to march to the Capitol complex. Many of his supporters began marching across the mall and through downtown following his remarks. Others were already gathered at the Capitol. The unrest lasted for hours and also included anti-Trump counterprotesters who may have been among the arrests.
Based on the police data, about six percent of the people arrested on January 6 were carrying firearms. The total of 60 arrests represent a fraction of the crowds who breached the Capitol that day. During that Oversight Committee hearing, DC MPD Chief Robert Contee said about 1,000 people broke inside the Capitol. A large crowd also breached the outer perimeter of the complex and gathered on the steps and walls outside.
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