HAMBURG, N.Y. -- Those in the audience wouldn't know it, but two armed officers were in attendance as Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY 27) spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce.
"We did have two undercover detectives here with us," Collins said. "So I felt very safe, and everybody here should likewise."
The move is in response to last week's shooting in Alexandria, Va.
Rep. Steve Scalise, the GOP whip, remains in critical condition after he was shot. Investigators say the suspect specifically targeted Republican lawmakers.
"It's just an uncertain time now," Collins said.
The Congressman's aides are working with local police and county sheriff's offices to provide the armed security.
"Their job is to keep the public safe at public gatherings," Collins said. "They're very aware now of the potential of copy cats and the like, so they actually volunteer to come out as part of their everyday job, and they're certainly paid by taxpayers."
Collins made headlines across the country when he said he will carry his own concealed weapon more often as a result of the increased threat. He explained his decision in an op-ed in Monday's Washington Post.
"I have a carry permit," he explained. "I take that seriously. I also think that private individuals who are carrying will keep people around them safe in these kinds of situations."
Collins is now working with the NRA and other groups to draft legislation that would allow members of Congress and two of their staffers to be trained by Capitol Police and then be allowed to carry concealed weapons at events, even in places where local laws may prevent that.
The Clarence Republican brushed off criticism from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said of Collins: "Stop fanning the flames of hate. That's not the answer. The answer is to create an atmosphere where you don't need a gun."
Collins didn't hold back in responding.
"I am one of the few people who will call our governor out, and I have called him a thug, and I've called him a bully, and I've called him a blackmailer, and I've called him an extortionist," Collins said.
He accused Cuomo of pandering to those on the "far left" of the Democratic party who want more gun control.
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