HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — Less than a week after saying he would carry a gun more often to protect himself and those around him, Representative Chris Collins declined to answer whether he was armed Monday, as he addressed business leaders in Hamburg.
Collins said alerting people to whether he was armed was not responsible gun ownership. But his security has increased in the wake of last week’s shooting.
Collins said shortly after Majority Whip Steve Scalise was critically injured in a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice that he would carry a gun when he felt he needed to for his personal safety.
In addition, at events over the weekend, and at Monday’s Chamber luncheon in Hamburg, Collins had armed officers on site.
Collins told the media after the luncheon that security should have been tighter at the baseball fields, when 18 members of Congress were set to hold practice in advance of the annual charity game between Republicans and Democrats.
Collins, R-Clarence, said he and his fellow lawmakers are putting their own safety and the safety of those around them more at the forefront since the shooting.
And he said he hopes last week’s violence works as a call to the public, especially those on social media, to tone down aggressive, hateful or violent rhetoric.
“These are dangerous times. We’re seeing it around the world. It’s not just in the U.S. We have to be cognizant of what the reality of today is,” he said. “And again, I owe it to myself, my staff and anyone around me, especially my family who is most concerned. You can imagine what my wife thinks when I go out. So, I’m hopeful too that this will calm down. But we’re all going to have to be cognizant about the potential.”
In addition to added protection on the road, Collins has also beefed up security at some of his offices in Western New York.
Work is now complete on his office in Lancaster to make staff more secure. Specifically, keypad locks have been installed so visitors in the reception area don’t have direct access to staff in the office space.
Collins said he and his staff are still working on what they will do with his office in Livingston County, because they’re not able to make those kinds of improvements with the office layout.