Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Webbgate

Amid all the attention being given to the Gonzales debacle, the usual suspects are floggin an embarassing little kerfuffle involving Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.

An aide to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) was arrested Monday for attempting to carry a loaded pistol into the Capitol.

At approximately 10:50 a.m. the staffer entered the Russell Senate Office Building through the lower Delaware and C Street Door, according to Kimberly Schneider, spokeswoman for the Capitol Police. The X-ray machine revealed that the aide had a loaded pistol and two additional magazines of ammunition.

Upon questioning, the Capitol Police determined the staffer did not have a license for the pistol or ammunition. Consequently, he was arrested and charged with carrying a pistol without a license and with being in possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.

Seems pretty small potatoes, right? An aide forgets he has a gun in his briefcase and runs afoul of security. The end.

Then it turns out it's Webb's gun. Webb was boarding a flight to New Orleans on Friday and gave the gun to his assistants because he couldn't take it on the plane.

Still small potatoes, right?

The aide, Phillip Thompson, was subsequently charged with a felony for not having a license to carry the pistol. But that's mostly because D.C. law is downright freaky about gun ownership -- so freaky that portions of D.C.'s gun-control laws have been ruled unconstitutional. If the offense was truly inadvertent, expect him to get off pretty lightly.

But now let the speculation begin.

Suppose Webb asked Thompson to carry the gun into the Capitol so he could have it in his office? Suppose Webb routinely carries a pistol in D.C., despite laws prohibiting it?

The latter is quite possible, but the former makes no sense, because Congress -- as they often do -- makes one set of rules for you, and another set of rules for themselves. It apparently is legal for Senators and Congressmen to have guns on federal property -- including the Capitol. So there'd be no point to Webb having his staffer sneak it in, and it would be doubly stupid because while Congress members can have guns there, aides can't. Why have your aide do something that's illegal for him but perfectly legal for you?

So it seems kind of impossible for this to be more than a mild embarassment for Webb's office -- not even Webb personally. It'd be kind of fun, though, to find out which airport Webb flew out of on Friday. If it was a D.C. airport, he has essentially admitted violating D.C. gun laws by having the gun with him in the first place.

Update: To clarify that last paragraph, if I had to bet I would wager that Webb regularly violates D.C. gun control laws. If so, he should be hammered a bit for it. But given that D.C.'s gun laws are so draconian, I don't think you're going to see many Republicans going after him on that score, unless they want to make him a hero to the gun lobby. Even many people who are sympathetic to reasonable regulation of guns aren't going to care, because D.C.'s gun laws are simpy too strict to be taken seriously.

Besides, there's probably a Congressional exception to it anyway.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh geez. Because it's a Democrat Senator this is just a source of amusement and "fun" for you. What happened to the idea that Senators must abide by the laws just like everyone else? What about the lying thing?---the fact Webb seems to have been caught already in some "inconsistencies?" Guess that's not important either....cause, you know, it just doesn't make sense that he would want to lie here.

Seems like the "ethics" changes the Dems promised were ONLY meant for Republicans; not themselves. Because they do not even have to answer questions. THEY are believed and given the benefit of the doubt whatever they do.

JP5

3/27/2007 9:31 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

What happened to the idea that Senators must abide by the laws just like everyone else?

What law am I letting Webb skate on?

What about the lying thing?---the fact Webb seems to have been caught already in some "inconsistencies?"

What has he lied about? And did he lie to police or Congress?

Seems like the "ethics" changes the Dems promised were ONLY meant for Republicans; not themselves. Because they do not even have to answer questions.

The Capitol Police are investigating the incident, and the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney will be the one handling it. Is that insufficient for you?

3/27/2007 9:45 PM  

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