Congress commemorates fallen Capitol police officers

American flag at Un, ... ] American flag at Un, ... ] Thinkstock

The somber notes of taps filled the first floor of the Capitol on Tuesday, as dozens of police officers bowed their heads while others saluted. One officer wiped his eyes.

The U.S. Congress paused to remember Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut of the Capitol Police who were killed in the line of duty 14 years ago today.

"As I started to come down the circular stairway the guns went off. A couple of more minutes, another minute I would have been in the middle of it," former House Speaker Dennis Hastert recalled to the Alley. Hastert was chief deputy whip at the time of the shooting. "I'll never forget that day," Hastert said.

The commemoration comes as the country is wading yet again into a debate over fire arms and gun control. Earlier Tuesday, despite the dim legislative prospects, a group of Democratic lawmakers met to raise issue of gun control.

Asked at a news conference on Tuesday whether the Senate would take up gun control legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not give a specific answer, but did cite the shooting ofGabrielle Giffords in Arizona and the Aurora, Colo. shootings in the same breath as Tuesday's commemoration.

"I think we should just wait for a reasonable period of time ... what can I do, what can I bring to pass in the Senate?" Reid asked.

Earlier in the day, Reid, speaking from the Senate floor, said the tragedy led to the construction of the Capitol Visitors Center, "which prevents a madman like the one who shot Agent Gibson and Officer Chestnut from entering the Capitol."

"And while nothing can erase the pain of losing a loved one, I hope their families take some measure of comfort in knowing Agent Gibson and Officer Chestnut are not forgotten," Reid said. 

House Speaker John Boehner, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid were among those in attendance.

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