In an alarming trend, nearly two dozen individuals have been arrested for unlawfully carrying firearms on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., this year, as per a CBS News review. The number of such incidents is nearing the total gun arrests made in all of 2022, pointing towards a spike in gun-related offenses since the Capitol Complex reopened to public visits.

The arrests primarily involve individuals claiming unintentional or unknowing possession of firearms as they approach Capitol checkpoints. Despite the District of Columbia’s stringent firearms laws, these cases continue to surface.

Among the arrested was an Iowa man found carrying a gun, loaded with four rounds, in a bag attached to a baby stroller while attempting to enter the Hart U.S. Senate Building. Another incident involved a Texas man who was stopped with a semiautomatic handgun at the entrance of the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center. He now faces several charges, including possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Additionally, a D.C. man pleaded guilty to a criminal charge after being stopped with a loaded semiautomatic handgun at a checkpoint to the Longworth House Building. His initial claim was that the gun belonged to his wife, but he later confessed to purchasing it illicitly for self-defense.

A notable incident involved a Virginia man who, upon being stopped with a firearm in his bag at the Ford House Office Building, brazenly asked if he could leave before being taken into custody. In response to these incidents, a Capitol Police spokesperson emphasized that it is illegal to bring any weapons onto Capitol Grounds, even those legally registered in other states or the District of Columbia, with the overarching goal being campus-wide safety.

Despite these startling incidents, the Capitol Complex continues hosting protests, rallies, and press events as it had prior to the pandemic-induced closure in 2021 and 2022. Capitol Police confirmed that several arrests resulted from officers spotting firearms while stopping individuals for other violations across Capitol grounds.

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