About a year and a half ago, my best friend was telling me of Sen. Allen’s challenger–a former Republican, and former Secretary of Navy under Reagan. She was excited about him, and as I heard her talk, I thought he showed promise. Last year, I followed the Senatorial race of Allen and Webb intently. Webb came from behind and semi-obscurity to beat out his contendors for the Primary. Then, last summer, Sen. Allen was caught on tape calling a Webb staffer, a Macaca and suddenly a GOP potential Presidential nominee was on the defensive. Well, in November Webb won a tough race. From the beginning, we (Virginians) decided to take a chance on him, because of what he stood for. However since the Primaries, it was clear that he was a little rough around the edges. But hey, its not like we haven’t had a little less than polished elected official at that rank or higher. There was the testy exchange between him and Pres. Bush (which from what I understand–neither side was blameless; and Pres. Bush should have a little more tact since Webb’s son was nearly killed in Iraq a few days before). Early last week, Phillip Thompson, an aide to Webb and former marine was arrested for trying to get an unregistered gun into the Capitol (the Russell Senate Building). Thompson claims that the unregistered pistol and two loaded magazines belonged to Sen. Webb who gave them to Thompson when Thompson dropped the Senator off at the airport. Thompson was arrested; and arraigned in the US city with the strictest gun laws in the nation. Webb however, wouldn’t claim the gun was his and stated,””I can say with great confidence that this was an inadvertent mistake on his part.” He also said in a press conference on Tuesday about his concealed weapon permit in the state of Virginia (he doesn’t have one in DC);

“Since 9/11, for people who are in government, I think in general there has been an agreement that it’s more — a more dangerous time,” he said. “If you look at people in the executive branch . . . there is not that kind of protection available to people in the legislative branch. We are required to defend ourselves, and I choose to do so.”Source

Tim Noah over on Slate has this to say about the debacle:

“To one of the reporters present, this sounded as though Webb were saying not only that he carried a gun with him when he was in Virginia, where it’s legal, but also that he carried a gun with him when he was in D.C., where it’s not. (D.C.’s handgun ban was recently struck down by the D.C. Court of Appeals, but it remains in force while the city government seeks a review by the full D.C. Circuit.) The reporter therefore asked, ‘Do you, senator, feel that you are above Washington, D.C.’s gun law?’ Webb replied: ‘I’m not going to comment in any level in terms of how I provide for my own security.’ Webb then reaffirmed his belief in the Second Amendment; said he couldn’t comment on any aspect of Thompson’s case; denied, bafflingly, that he ever gave the weapon to Thompson (Did that mean he gave it to another aide who in turn gave it to Thompson?); and stated, most bafflingly of all, ‘I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex.’ Was Webb saying he’s carried a gun elsewhere in the District of Columbia? His office won’t answer that question.

“Webb’s silence increases the suspicion that he either has broken or continues to break the D.C. law, more or less daring the local authorities to do anything about it. That could be posturing; as Dana Milbank points out in the March 28 Washington Post, nobody ever lost a vote in the state of Virginia by thumbing his nose at gun control.

Legally, though, Webb’s evasiveness constitutes probable cause, entitling the next D.C. cop Webb encounters within city limits (but outside the Capitol) to frisk him. That’s probably the last thing D.C.’s new mayor, Adrian Fenty, and his new chief of police, Cathy Lanier, would like to see happen. I therefore recommend that Fenty or Lanier phone Webb and ask the senator straight out whether he intends in the future to obey D.C.’s gun laws . . . If Webb answers anything other than ‘yes,’ then Lanier should dispatch a police officer to frisk Webb at the senator’s next public appearance outside the Capitol. If Webb is carrying a handgun, that police officer should arrest him. Sounds absurd, I know. But how can the D.C. government do otherwise while on a daily basis it arrests less-well-dressed young black men for the very same offense?”

Personally, I like Webb. Sure he’s been getting himself into some scrapes, but he speaks his mind and he’s usually worth listening to. He did a good job delivering the Democratic Party’s response to President Bush’s State of the Union, and I think he’s doing a good job representing Virginia as our junior senator. However, its going to be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally, as an employee of the executive branch and a former employee of the legislative branch–the protection for both is similar when it comes to peons like me. Yes, he’s referring to the Secret Service protection cabinet members, the VP, and President gets, but he’s not any of those. And he does have protection. Its called the Capitol Police–the ones that arrested Thompson. Granted its not the same as a SS detail, but still. He’s a Senator…not someone in direct line for succession to the Presidency.

As far as “accidentally forgetting” a loaded weapon with two magazines? What the hell? I stopped carrying a pocket knife when I first started working in DC over 5 years ago because of the security. Saying it was a mistake doesn’t cut it. Fine, have your weapons–but keep them in Virginia. The District doesn’t mess around when it comes to weapons, and especially trying to take one in a government building. He would’ve been arrested if he tried to enter any government building in DC, let alone up on the Hill. Anyway, its going to be interesting to see this play out.