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.

News4 reports that “Thompson formerly was the editor of the Marine Corps Times.” They have a video report here.

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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. The Foreign Office said Sunday that British requests for access to the 15 Britons have been denied.. Iran is also saying the Briton confessed to being in Iranian waters. Forgive my impertinance, but hogwash!! 3. Hmmm! Not sure how to take this one. Details via Drudge: 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

  2. April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 [IMG Outside The Beltway | OTB] Officers To Be Disciplined Over Tillman Death Caption Contest Winners Beltway Traffic Jam Peyton Manning United Way Parody SNL Video Webb Staffer Arrested for Carrying Boss’ Gun into Capitol Army Recruiter Sends Anti-Gay Emails Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’ Children of Húrin, New Tolkien Book, Completed Subtleties of Arabic Language Katie Couric’s Double Standard? [IMG OTB Sports]

  3. Triumph says:

    Given Webb’s questionable background, it would not be surprising to learn that this is part of some terrorist scheme to infiltrate the Capitol.

  4. CP says:

    Aren’t handgun illegal in DC? Would Webb vote to end the measure in the Senate if it comes up? What about Webb giving his staffer his loaded gun?

  5. Look at the bright side. Webb must think he’s a heck of a boss if he is willing to give his staffer a loaded gun. How many senators or representatives have that much confidence in their managerial people skills?

  6. Tlaloc says:

    Aren’t handgun illegal in DC?

    The courts just struck it down:

    Which doesn’t, of course, make it legal for Webb’s staffer to carry one into the capitol.

  7. Anderson says:

    Well, if Webb wanted to bolster his standing with the NRA crowd, that’s one way to go about it. Better to carry it himself, though.

  8. legion says:

    I know more jurisdictions are allowing judges to carry guns in court; is there a similar loophole allowing MoC’s to carry for self-defense? If so, Thompson probably had a brain-fart & didn’t realize the loophole didn’t extend to him. If not, then Webb’s got some ‘splainin to do…

  9. Boyd says:

    1) Despite the recent Parker ruling, I daresay one could still get arrested, convicted and imprisoned for possession of a handgun on the streets of DC. Depending on what exactly happens with that case in the future, that process might get short-circuited if the full Appeals Court or the Supreme Court were to rule a certain way. Regardless, I wouldn’t want to be the test case.

    2) Webb appears to be a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, and has a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit. During his Senate campaign, he made several strong pro-gun-rights promises (which he has yet to fulfill, but he’s only been a Senator for a couple of months).

    This looks to me like my junior Senator made a very big mistake, and Mr Thompson is going to have to pay the price. But I’m content to watch what unfolds and I’m willing to change my opinion as warranted.

  10. jeff b says:

    It’s conceivable like the staffer just grabbed Webb’s bag out of a car or the gym or whatnot. Webb would be allowed to carry the gun into the Capitol (and not be searched on entry) but his staffers go through security.

    Sounds like it might blow over, but Webb should be responsible for the whereabouts of his weapons.

  11. Boyd says:

    Are Senators exempt from DC’s gun laws? I’d never heard of that before.

  12. Jim Henley says:

    Awesome! Webb solidifies his standing as leader of Matt Welch’s “Deadwood Democrats.”

  13. Scott_T says:

    So when are the Rethuglicans going to call an inquiry into why one of their Democratic compatriots are carrying loaded, weapons into the Senate Building? And call for his resignations and/or impeachment proceedings going to start?

    🙂

  14. Bill's Bites says:

    Webb Aide Arrested for Gun Possession…

    Webb Aide Arrested for Gun Possession WASHINGTON (AP) – An aide to Sen. Jim Webb was arrested Monday when he entered a Senate office building with a loaded pistol, Capitol Police said. Spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said the aide was…

  15. Michael says:

    Given Webb’s questionable background, it would not be surprising to learn that this is part of some terrorist scheme to infiltrate the Capitol.

    Yeah, that’s the most likely explanation, Al Qaeda is using former Reagan administration officials to carry out hand-gun attacks on Congress. What do you have to be smoking to even think this stuff Triumph?

    So when are the Rethuglicans going to call an inquiry into why one of their Democratic compatriots are carrying loaded, weapons into the Senate Building? And call for his resignations and/or impeachment proceedings going to start?

    Just as soon as they don’t need the NRA vote anymore to win the White House.

  16. Wayne says:

    Sounds like an innocent mistake to me. Of course if he were a Republican the MSM would be crucifying him.

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