On Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert became the first of two politicians fined for not walking through the new metal detectors installed inside of the U.S. Capitol building. The Texas congressman was fined $5,000 after not stopping to be screened for a second time after he left the House floor on Thursday. Also fined was fellow Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde, who serves in Georgia's 9th congressional district. Clyde reportedly didn’t stop to get screened a first time and he passed the metal detectors completely on his way to the House floor. Both fines will be deducted from the representative’s paychecks, and should they be fined a second time, the amount will jump to $10,000.
Many, however, feel the fines are deserved, considering the fact that these metal detectors were installed in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol insurrection carried out by supporters of former president Donald Trump on January 6. After a mob of white supremacists were able to easily bypass security guards and violently enter the building, the metal detectors were put in place for an extra layer of security — specifically, to protect members of Congress while in session.
But both congressmen skirting the metal detectors comes after the already-controversial response other Republicans have had to this new system. Namely, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert was confronted by a Capitol Police officer after her bag made the metal detector go off and she refused to have it checked. An unwavering supporter of concealed carry who boasts carrying a glock around the capital, Boebert later tweeted: “I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C. and within the Capitol complex. Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week — it’s just another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.” She is now among several lawmakers who are refusing to walk through the metal detectors.
Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon has also complained on Twitter about the presence of the machines, tweeting last month, “Members of Congress are not allowed to perform their duty to vote on behalf of their constituents without going through this ‘security’ checkpoint. @GOPLeader [California Rep. Kevin McCarthy] needs to formally protest.”
In the aftermath of the newly-waged fine system, Gohmert released a statement saying that he would be appealing the fine. According to him, he was "complying" with the metal detector and this is all a misunderstanding.
“I was allowed to enter the House session where debate was occurring. Knowing that I would soon be giving a speech, I stepped off the House floor to use the restroom right beside the Speaker’s lobby as I have done many times since the metal detectors have been installed," he wrote. "At no time until yesterday did anyone mention the need to be wanded after entering the restroom directly in front of the guards. The three main entrances have metal detectors, but the House floor entrance from the Speakers’ Lobby does not. Originally I had gone around the metal detectors a few times until it was mandated. I have been complying for weeks since.” Naturally, he also went on to blame Democrats for “making up the rules as they go.”
Clyde also called the fine “a constitutional issue” during an interview on Fox News on Friday. “Those metal detectors are there to detain us, and that's a violation of Article I Section 6 of the Constitution.”
However, the metal detectors, which are also used in other public buildings like offices and schools, aren't any tool of suppression — they are explicitly there to protect the very Republican congresspeople that are pushing back against them.