Washington D.C.: Equality under the law and Senatorial privilege

By Tim Inwood

There has been a great deal of news coming from
Washington D.C. these days concerning firearms. The
decision in the Shelly Parker case has certainly
shaken up the political establishment, and I for one
have been delighted by it. As a political junkie I can
hardly wait to see what the courts do next. I only
pray it is the right thing. But for a town that
virtually banned all private possession of handguns in
1976, there seems to be quite a few people packing
pistols in Washington D.C. these days. Illegally, I
might add.

Yes, we are all aware of the violent crime
being committed with firearms in the District, but
until recently not much attention has been paid to the
other crimes committed with guns. Those crimes are
committed by the elite ruling class who carry firearms
for their defense. Naturally, I think they should have
the right to do that. According to the U.S. Constitution
they do have that right. It is that they have
prohibited the rest of us from exercising that right,
and their resistance to over turning it, that I view
as so infuriating. What kind of black heart must one
possess to watch such carnage in the streets and still
deny the people the ability to protect themselves? If
anyone should have the hammers of Hell come down on
them for violating the very anti-gun ordinances that
they advocate it is the erudite masters of our
government who demand for themselves what they deny to
us, the people.

You see, when Washington D.C. enacted their gun ban in
1976 they did not exempt members of Congress or their
staffs from the ban. The only handguns permitted were
those owned prior to 1976 that were registered with
the city. Also exempt were the various police agencies
in Washington, including the Washington D.C. Metro
Police, Capitol Hill Police, Federal agencies who
authorize carrying firearms and of course the US
Military. So it should be no surprise there has been
some chatter concerning the arrest of Phillip
Thompson
, who is an aide to Senator Jim Webb (Democrat
of Virginia), in the aftermath of Mr. Thompson’s
arrest for carrying the Senator’s gun.

Click on 'Read More' for the entire commentary.

It is not often that I will make a negative comment on
a politician that is pro-Second Amendment rights, but
there is much to this incident that bothers me. The
story is somewhat murky and keeps changing. There may
be a new version out of what happened by the time you
read this article. However as of Wednesday, March 28
the story goes like this.

On Monday, March 26th
Senator Webb was at Reagan National Airport returning
from a trip to New Orleans. Apparently Senator Webb
had his pistol with him on the visit. This is legal as
Webb has a Virginia CCW license and Virginia has
reciprocity with Louisiana. There were three cars in
his entourage and several bags were in his car. In a
mix up somehow Thompson wound up with the bag
containing the Senator’s pistol. When Thompson
returned to work at the U.S. Capitol he attempted to
enter the Capitol without the Senator in tow. He was
also carrying the bag with the pistol in it. The
Capitol Hill Police found the loaded handgun along
with two additional loaded magazines. Thompson was
arrested on the spot and was forced to spend the night
in jail. Thompson claims the handgun belongs to
Senator Webb.

The interesting thing is the Capitol Police will
allow a member of Congress to carry a gun into the
Capitol building. Never mind that getting it to the
Capitol building means they have committed a felony
transporting it across gun-banning Washington D.C. Had
the Senator carried the gun unloaded “wrapped” into
the building that would have been fine with the
Capitol Police. Members of Congress can also wave
their staff around the metal detectors, so one wonders
how often Thompson actually carried the Senator’s gun
in to the Capitol Building without going through the
metal detectors. Which brings into question, how many
times did the Senator commit a felony by crossing
through Washington D.C. armed with a pistol? I doubt
that question will be pursued by the press.

The Senator says he did not give his handgun to
Thompson. In fact the Senator has said some odd and
contradictory things in the wake of this incident, the
sort of comments that will assure this will not go
away as a news story anytime soon. Troubling to me was
this quote:

    “Everyone here knows that I am a strong supporter of
    the Second Amendment, that I have had a permit to
    carry a weapon in Virginia for a long time, and I
    believe that it’s important — 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.”

This bothers me. While I agree with the bulk of the
quote, the elitist “situation that I’m in” comment is
frustrating and speaks loudly to his mindset. You see,
I don’t think his “situation” is any more special than
some poor single mom who lives in the crime infested
neighborhoods of Southeast Washington D.C.. I am sorry
to burst his bubble of inflated self importance but he
is one of 535 members of Congress. He is one of 100
US Senators that most people would not recognize if
they ran into him on the street. If you listen to
Sean Hannity’s radio show, they do an interesting, if
disturbing, experiment in what they call their “Man on
the Street” segment. In this segment they stop, at
random, people on the street and ask them to identify
photos. When shown the latest contestants from
“American Idol”, movie star, sports figure or pop
singer, they know the celebrity. Show them Secretary
of State Condi Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney,
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or some other
political figure and most of them are clueless as to
who they are looking at. Sad and frightening thing is
when asked, the bulk of them vote every election. God
help us.

The 435 members of the House are even less
recognizable to most of their fellow Americans.
However, many of these folks in both chambers of the
Congress think they are above the law, that they
should not be held accountable to the laws they pass
for the rest of us to live by. Sadly this frequently
applies to the politicians in our state and city
governments too. They all need to put their titanic
egos in check.

Forgive my partisanship as I point out that I find the
irony quite rich that a man who is a member of the
Democrat Party, supposedly the party of the little guy
and the working man, would take such an attitude. The
Democrats frequently berate the Republicans as a party
for the rich, the privileged, the party of the elite.
Yet it is one of the Democrats that take this
distasteful elitist attitude and made the mistake of
saying it openly in front of a camera. This stereotype
of Republicans has always rankled me. Most Republicans
defend the Second Amendment right for all their
law-abiding fellow citizens and it is they who have
for years spearheaded efforts to overturn the
Washington D.C. gun ban. This indeed shows the
Republicans are the friend to the average American as
they are on just about every issue. Hopefully we have
helped dispel this long held ridiculous myth that it
is otherwise.

Senator Webb is not alone in this elitist attitude, of
course. Interestingly the worst offenders are also
Democrats. In 1986 Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy’s
bodyguard Chuck Stein was arrested in the U.S. Capitol
building for carrying an unregistered handgun, two
submachine guns, and 146 rounds of ammunition. Senator
Kennedy attempted to use his clout to have the charges
dropped as he needed a body guard. Never mind that
Teddy Kennedy has been the poster boy for gun bans for
decades. He needs protection, but in his view we
don’t. It has always nauseated me to watch some
sanctimonious arrogant scion like Ted Kennedy spout
the virtues of gun prohibition for us, while he needs
his armed body guards. In this he is much like that
bloated glittering jewel of ignorance, Rosie
O’Donnell. More annoying is the press giving them a pass on it.

Some years back Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of
West Virginia, was caught in an interesting hypocrisy
concerning guns. When he voted to ban “semi-automatic
assault rifles” he admitted he kept a Colt AR 15 in
his home in Washington D.C. for protection. When it was
later pointed out to him that it was illegal for him
to have that rifle in Washington, he said he misspoke
and that he kept the gun in his home in West Virginia.
Never the less the hypocrisy of the man voting to ban
you or I getting a new Colt AR 15 while it was alright
for him to have one stinks of a belief in “Senatorial
Privilege” most foul.

Another offender of the D.C. gun ban is Representative
Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota). At least he is pro-Second Amendment. However. he admits to keeping a gun
in his Capitol Hill office in Washington D.C. When
asked how he gets it there, he replied “It’s not very
far to the Virginia line.” He ignores that it is
nevertheless a felony to transport it there.

Thompson, like Kennedy’s man Stein, will face the
brunt of the law. Their bosses evade punishment for
encouraging these illegal actions, of course. I look
forward to the day that travesties of justice such as
this end and the men who encouraged the crime are held
to account too. Better yet I look forward to a
restoration of all of our rights nationwide to bear
arms for our defense. No need for worrying about
reciprocity. As a Citizen of the United States you
could simply carry nationwide. I wonder if that can be
done in my life time. It would be nice.

I hope that in the end the decision made in the
Shelly Parker case will stand as written. It is past
time that the courts recognize in clear language that
the Second Amendment gives recognition of a
pre-existing right to bear arms for our defense,
security and freedom. For this is an essential part of
our civil liberties. What do we have if not security
from fear in our own homes? It is time for all the
people who live and work in the Nation’s capitol to be
able to defend themselves from the criminals amongst
us. They need to be able to do so without fear of
being punished for exercising that right to self
preservation. In the modern era there is also the
sobering added dimension of terrorism. No doubt
terrorists will view Washington D.C. as a prime target
for attack. I would like to think a legally armed
citizen might well help thwart such an attack. It
happens in Israel frequently. The hypocrisy of the
elites thinking their hides are more valuable than
ours is one I can not bear. The nation was founded on
the principle that all men are created equal. This
does not mean that some men are more equal than
others. Our elected officials need to be reminded of
that.

Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA, Life Member of OGCA, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.

Related Stories:
Repeal the 2nd Amendment? The anti-gun left in panic over the Parker decision

The importance of the Parker (D.C. gun ban) case

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