Local Politics

Ellmers plans to carry gun in public

Posted January 20, 2011 5:48 p.m. EST
Updated January 20, 2011 7:16 p.m. EST

— In the wake of a mass shooting that critically injured one of her fellow lawmakers, Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers said Thursday that she plans to carry a gun when making public appearances.

"We have to protect ourselves. We know that. That is something we have always been cognizant of,” Ellmers said.  "There have been times in the past I have carried my weapon, and I will probably continue to do so. Some days I might have it. Some days I might not."

The longtime nurse and Dunn resident obtained a concealed-carry permit in February after passing a state-certified firearms training course and a background check.

She said the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in which six people were killed and Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, steeled her resolve to be armed.

“I feel safe with it, and I think we should all be able to defend ourselves as we need to,” Ellmers said.

Still, she said, she's not taking all security in her own hands. Her staff keeps in touch with local law enforcement in Washington, D.C., and across her 10-county congressional district.

"(We) make sure they're aware of the situation, and they have been more than helpful to us," she said.

She said she doesn't want so much security that she can no longer interact with constituents. "I love giving out hugs. I love getting hugs," she said.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said his deputies are ready to provide security at any event if a politician asks for it – or if they hear of a potential threat against a public official.

Rollins said Ellmers has a constitutional right to carry a gun, and he said he thinks it's good for her to be armed at times.

"Sometimes, it may not make any difference, but it has a potential to make a difference, I think, always," he said.

Democratic 11th District Congressman Heath Shuler also has said that he plans to carry a gun while in public. Republican 9th District Congresswoman Sue Myrick told The Charlotte Observer that she's a good shot and likely would carry a gun when she felt the need to do so.