March 27, 2007
One of Senator Jim Webb's aides was in court Tuesday, charged with carrying a loaded weapon into a U.S. Capitol building Monday. The weapon, the aide says, actually belongs to the Democratic senator.
The aide, Philip Thompson, entered a not guilty plea through his lawyer Tuesday afternoon. Senator Webb was in New Orleans when the incident happened and isn't yet confirming that the gun was in fact his, but he is standing by Thompson, calling him a long-time friend, and calling the whole incident "enormously unfortunate."
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I think this is one of those very unfortunate situations where, completely inadvertently, he took the weapon into the Senate yesterday," said Webb.
Inadvertent or not, it was still illegal. Washington D.C. law says no one can carry a loaded weapon but law enforcement. Capitol police rules allow members and their employees to bring a weapon onto Capitol grounds if it is unloaded and securely wrapped.
In this case, the gun Phillip Thompson was allegedly carrying when he was arrested was neither. The aide told police he had retrieved the bag carrying the gun for Senator Webb.
Webb maintains he does not believe he or his employees are above the law.
"I have not carried a gun in the Capitol complex, and I did not give the gun to Phillip Thompson," said Webb.
Webb says the whole thing was just one big mix-up. He used the incident to reaffirm his belief in the second amendment, especially in today's world.
"It's important for me, personally, and for a lot of people in the situation that I'm in, to be able to defend myself and my family," said Webb.
Thompson is a former marine and has been with Webb since his first days on the campaign trail. He was arrested Monday on his 45th birthday. Thompson will next be in court on May 1st.