Despite the fact that I don’t look too highly on legislators placing themselves above the laws that apply to the rest of us, from Instapundit:
I agree that he seems to have broken the law. But it’s within a prosecutor’s discretion not to prosecute, and cases of inadvertence like this are often dropped — and should be. (It’s not clear that Thompson even knew the gun was in the bag.) Reader Larry Boykin thinks I’m an elitist (“So, it’s alright to have one set of laws for the common man and another set of laws for the ‘elite’? That’s what you are advocating if you believe that charges should be dropped. “) but I think that charges should be dropped for anyone in these circumstances. Would they be? Well, I don’t know. I know of some similar cases where ordinary people weren’t charged — but it’s true that they weren’t at the U.S. Capitol. If charges are dropped here under public scrutiny, of course, that’ll be an argument for treating ordinary people in similar circumstances similarly in the future.
I don’t think Glenn is an elitist. I agree that prosecutors should use discretion in cases like this, and I wouldn’t want to see anyone get the book thrown at them under similar circumstances, even if they were in Congress or were a staffer, just because they made an unknowing mistake (and who would knowingly put a briefcase on an x-ray machine if they knew they had a gun inside?).
I have no problem with shaming Jim Webb or his staffer for what appears to be carelessness. I have no problem with frowning on, or speaking out against politicians who carry guns in places the rest of us can’t, because they can get away with it, while we can’t.
But I can’t ignore the fact that I believe Washington D.C.’s gun laws are unconstitutional. I don’t want to see anyone prosecuted for a law that shouldn’t be on the books, whether they are an ordinary Joe, or whether they are Jim Webb. The constitution protects all of us, even politicians.
If we don’t like the idea of politicians flouting even unconstitutional laws that apply to the rest of us, and believe me, I don’t, we can remedy that at the voting booth.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh suggests that Webb’s aide should not be charged because he may be flat out not guilty.