Son of a Gun

Bush Administration

By now you may have heard the news story that an aide to Senator Jim Webb was arrested for attempting to carry a loaded firearm into a Senate office building. Here’s as much as I can put together about what happened:

The aide, Phillip Thompson, drove Senator Webb to an airport yesterday. The Senator gave Thompson a semiautomatic, 9 millimeter pistol and two magazines and instructed Thompson to drop these off at a Virginia location before entering the District of Columbia. Thompson forgot, and X-rays revealed the gun and magazines in Thompson’s briefcase as he tried to enter the Russell Senate Office Building.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, said “I don’t think he intended to harm anybody,” and “He was quite cooperative.” Thompson, a former Marine, was arrested and jailed He faces faces felony charges of carrying a pistol without a license and possessing an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition. A very unfortunate episode, but the law is the law.

Naturally, rightie bloggers are gleeful that a Democratic aide was “busted,” and are eagerly looking for a way to make the Senator guilty of something also. Several of them are linking to a Drudge Report item about it that, oddly, doesn’t seem to be on the Drudge site now. Blogs for Bush demands that there be “a full investigation” of Webb’s culpability. Some guy on Free Republic is howling for Webb to be charged with carrying an “unregistered handgun around the District of Columbia. … Only question remains now is when Sen. Webb will be arrested and charged.”

The catch is that DC airports as a rule are not in DC, but in Virginia. This includes Reagan National, in Arlington County. If the Senator were being driven from his home (which the news stories don’t confirm) to an airport, then he wasn’t in DC, but in Virginia, and I’m told that he’s done nothing that wasn’t lawful in Virginia.

Several news stories mention that the gun isn’t registered, but Virginia doesn’t require gun registration. It is public knowledge that the Senator has a carry permit, which he waved about from time to time during last year’s campaign. Also, I’m told that Virginia law allows someone to loan a firearm to a friend without checking ID. If the facts are as I believe them to be, the Senator didn’t violate any laws. Thompson might have been in violation of Virginia law if he didn’t have a permit to carry a weapon; I don’t know if he does or not.

Expect the righties to lose interest in this story as soon as they figure out where the airports are.

Update: Faux Noise is reporting a different story.

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  1. a517dogg  •  Mar 27, 2007 @12:45 pm

    Ironic that people on the Right are mad at a Democrat for being TOO comfortable with guns.

  2. maha  •  Mar 27, 2007 @1:55 pm

    I’ve heard it suggested that the Dems should arrange to be arrested for carrying guns more often. This was a joke of course. But seems to me Drudge and others started to exploit this story against Democrats and then backed off very quickly.

  3. Bonnie  •  Mar 27, 2007 @9:51 pm

    The only part of the story where it said Webb denied giving gun to aide was in the headline. I found no other such statement throughout the story and I read looking for that same line in the story. Still, I am tired and have a lot of pain today so I could have missed it; but, it appears the headline is not really accurate.

  4. whig  •  Mar 27, 2007 @11:54 pm

    The Faux story is weird, and even includes this incredible line:

    “Webb’s executive assistant was released on his own reconnaissance after he pleaded not guilty to charges of carrying a pistol without a license and possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.”

    Now, it’s easy enough to mishear “recognizance” but it’s a pretty stupid error for a professional journalist, if any such worked for Faux.

  5. the exile  •  Mar 28, 2007 @5:39 pm

    Did you notice that the Fox idiots said “released on his own reconnaissance” instead of “released on his own recognizance”? Top class legal journalism over there, to be sure.

  6. the exile  •  Mar 28, 2007 @5:40 pm

    And I’m just as big an idiot for not noticing that whig (#4) already saw this.