Webb Staffer Arrested for Carrying Boss’ Gun into Capitol
I received an emailed tip from a reliable source that a staffer for Senator Jim Webb (D, VA) was arrested this afternoon by Capitol police for trying to bring “a loaded handgun and two fully loaded clips” into the Russell Senate Office building, hidden in a bag. The gun was reportedly registered to Webb.
Capitol Police have confirmed the gist of the incident but would not confirm the name of the staffer or the Senator.
UPDATE: Dan Riehl reports that he has gotten confirmation that it was a Webb staffer. I’ve called back and there has been a shift change so the desk sergeant knows nothing about it and patching through to the public affairs POC isn’t working.
UPDATE: Drudge has the story now, with additional details:
SENATE STAFFER BUSTED FOR CARRYING WEBB’S LOADED GUN: Phillip Thompson, executive assistant to Senator James Webb (D-VA ), has been arrested by Capitol Hill Police on Monday for ‘inadvertently’ holding the senator’s loaded gun, according to a person close to the investigation. A Senate staffer reports that Thompson was arrested for carrying the gun in a bag through security at the Russell Senate Office building while the Senator was parking his car. Thompson was booked for carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL) and for possessing unregistered ammunition. Developing…
UPDATE (3/27): Carl Hulse for the NYT:
A close aide to Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, was arrested on Monday and jailed after trying to take a loaded handgun into a Senate office building, officials said.
The aide, identified by Mr. Webb’s office as Phillip Thompson, 45, had a semiautomatic, 9 millimeter pistol and two magazines that were discovered after he put his bag through an X-ray machine at an entrance to the Russell Senate Office Building, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the United States Capitol Police. Mr. Thompson faces felony charges of carrying a pistol without a license and possessing an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.
Another Congressional official briefed on the case said the aide had told the authorities that Mr. Webb gave him the pistol while being dropped at the airport and that he inadvertently took it to the Capitol complex.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former secretary of the Navy elected last November, would not immediately address the question of the ownership of the weapon. “To our knowledge, this incident was an oversight by the senator’s aide,” said the spokeswoman, Jessica Smith. “Phillip Thompson is a former marine, a long-term friend and trusted employee of the senator. We are still awaiting facts.”
The District of Columbia has strict controls on guns, and it is extremely difficult to get a license to carry a gun even if the gun is properly registered in another jurisdiction. Though a federal appeals court recently struck down some aspects of the gun control ordinance, it remains in force while that decision is on appeal.
It’s a bizarre incident, which is amusingly similar to one involving former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer a few years back. Still, it looks to me like an honest mistake. Thompson knew that he was going to have to go through metal detectors, after all.
The only criticism I would offer (aside from always being aware that you’re carrying a loaded weapon) is that Webb should have immediately said that it was his gun and explained the situation.