Guns in the Capitol


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Blackfork
March 29, 2007, 11:42 AM
This story just gets better and better. Senators and Reps can HAVE guns in their offices....but break DC law getting them there to the capitol complex.

So, how many DC gun law breakers ARE there among our elected?

I think they all need to surrender NOW!



You Can Bring Gun to Capitol, but Not Through D.C.
Arrest of Webb Aide at Senate Building Highlights Conflicts Between City, Federal Rules

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007; Page B01

Members of Congress and designated employees can bring unloaded guns into the Capitol. The lawmakers can even load the guns once inside their offices.

But there is a hitch: They cannot bring guns through the District's streets on their way to the Capitol grounds.

The arrest this week of Phillip Thompson, an aide to Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) who carried a loaded pistol into a Senate office building, brought to light a contradiction between the regulations governing the Capitol grounds and the laws covering District streets.

The Capitol grounds are federal property and not subject to the District's strict gun laws, which generally prohibit firearms.

Although some people are allowed to bring guns into the Capitol, they cannot legally get them there, said Lt. Jon Shelton, the longtime head of the D.C. police department's gun unit.

"They can't helicopter them in," Shelton said.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said he would advise lawmakers to "abide by D.C. laws" when not on Capitol grounds. He said members of Congress who want guns at the Capitol should ask police to transport the weapons for them.

It is not known how many members of Congress have guns in the Capitol. They do not have to pass through metal detectors, like everybody else, when they enter the Capitol buildings.

Thompson, 45, was arrested Monday at the Russell Senate Office Building after Capitol police spotted the loaded pistol and ammunition in a briefcase he was carrying. He has told authorities that the gun belonged to Webb and that he was "safekeeping" it for him. He was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and other offenses.

Webb, who took office in January, has expressed support for Thompson, his executive assistant. But Webb has declined to provide the public with the details of what happened and would not say this week whether the gun is his. Webb said he has never carried a gun in the Capitol complex.

Capitol Police Board regulations permit staff members to bring unloaded guns on the grounds but only if they are acting as "agents" of House members or senators. Only members of Congress can have loaded guns, and only in their offices, Gainer said.

In the District, handguns are not allowed on the streets unless carried by law enforcement personnel and some private security officers. Shotguns and rifles are allowed in homes only if the owners have permits. The only reason a person may legally transport a rifle or a shotgun is if they are going to a recreational activity.

It is also illegal to transport a firearm through the District if someone is traveling, for example, from Virginia to Maryland, Shelton said. "They should go around the District of Columbia," he said.

But not everyone shares the police lieutenant's take on the law.

Richard E. Gardiner, a former legislative counsel for the National Rifle Association who is representing Thompson, said his understanding is that a federal regulation that was passed in 1986 trumps D.C. law and allows guns to be transported through the District.

Webb and Thompson live in Virginia, where gun laws are much less strict.

Virginians who want to own guns need only pass criminal background checks, and only then if they purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. Unlicensed dealers can sell firearms at gun shows in Virginia without conducting a criminal check. There is no requirement to register a gun in Virginia, but gunowners need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Thompson, who spent Monday night in jail, declined to comment when reached at his home in Stafford yesterday. He was given the day off but is expected back at work by tomorrow, Webb spokeswoman Jessica Smith said.

One version of events, provided by a Senate official, had Webb giving the gun to Thompson during a trip to the airport and asking him to keep the weapon while Webb was away. During a news conference Tuesday, however, Webb denied giving Thompson the gun.

If it turns out that Thompson was carrying the gun for Webb, that may pose a problem in the District, but it would probably not violate Virginia gun laws, legal experts said yesterday.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with that," said Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden. "Let's say I have a concealed weapon permit and I was going to the airport. I say 'Oh Lord, I have this gun here, let me put it in this satchel and I'm going to put it in the trunk, will you take it home for me?' He could do that. There wouldn't be any problem with that," Trodden said.

Staff writers Henri E. Cauvin, Timothy Dwyer, Tom Jackman and Nick Miroff contributed to this report.

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LAR-15
March 29, 2007, 11:53 AM
Would FOPA apply?

TexasRifleman
March 29, 2007, 11:56 AM
Richard E. Gardiner, a former legislative counsel for the National Rifle Association who is representing Thompson, said his understanding is that a federal regulation that was passed in 1986 trumps D.C. law and allows guns to be transported through the District.

Yeah, apparantly they are gonna use FOPA for that part.

But hey, New Jersey and New York ignore it, why not DC.

shield20
March 29, 2007, 12:16 PM
Article 1 Section 6:

They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.



Law-abiding DC citizens caught trying to protect their home and families by owning a firearm purchased lawfully elsewhere will be charged with a misdemeanor

TexasRifleman
March 29, 2007, 12:34 PM
Law-abiding DC citizens caught trying to protect their home and families by owning a firearm purchased lawfully elsewhere will be charged with a misdemeanor

That's in the home. Carrying a handgun concealed in DC is a Felony.

LAR-15
March 29, 2007, 12:46 PM
NOT EVEN POLITICIANS ARE EXEMPT FROM THE DC HANDGUN BAN OR THE BAN ON SEMI AUTOMATIC FIREARMS FIRING MORE THAN 12 SHOTS.

Hence why some pro gun politicans want the DC gun ban gone- so they can take that Glock out of their office and back to their DC abode.

DC has a crime problem and pols are not immune to getting shot during a robbery.

Tim James
March 29, 2007, 01:29 PM
Unlicensed dealers can sell firearms at gun shows in Virginia without conducting a criminal check.OMG no criminal check? Guys, this sounds like a really dangerous loophole that needs to be fixed. :eek: Could someone get on this please? Thanks. ;)

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