Charges against House staffer represent real problem

Charges against House staffer represent real problem
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

There are times when criminal charges are warranted. Anytime someone willfully hurts another, as an example.

But when it comes to the carrying of guns, should that be a crime? I’m not talking about felons or others who cannot lawfully own a gun here, I’m talking about regular folks. Should they be able to carry a firearm pretty much anywhere?

Obviously, I tend to say yes. The only exception is private property where the responsible party has made it clear they don’t want them.

However, in the Capitol, that’s not the case.

A staff member on Capitol Hill who was charged with carrying a gun into a House office building agreed to a plea agreement Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Jeffrey Allsbrooks’s case will be dismissed under community service conditions and the requirement that he stays out of criminal trouble for six months.

Allsbrooks, 57, who works for the House Chief Administrative Officer, carried a loaded 9mm Glock pistol through security into Longworth House Office Building on Dec. 9.

U.S. Capitol Police did not realize Allsbrooks was carrying the gun, which he said he had accidentally left in his bag before coming to work, until he had already gone into the building.

The building was put on a “stay-in-place lockdown” after police realized he had the firearm, and “began to canvass the immediate area” searching for Allsbrooks, whom they found after 12 minutes.

OK, looking past the Capitol police first missing the gun when Allsbrooks walked right through security, we still have them completely freaking out and locking the building down and “canvassing the area” to find a guy who did absolutely nothing to be sneaky.

Amazing job, guys. Amazing job.

Yet Allsbrook’s case is interesting because members of Congress can carry a firearm into those same offices. They don’t face any charges whatsoever.

See, we’re supposed to be a nation of laws, not a nation of men. Members of Congress aren’t meant to be an elevated aristocracy with special rights and privileges that we peons are denied. They’re supposed to be no different than we are.

We all know that’s simply not how things work anymore, but that doesn’t make it right.

Then there’s the fact that Allsbrooks possessed a carry permit, but because he didn’t have one for a city he worked in–and likely didn’t have one because he couldn’t carry into the buildings he worked in an and around–which means he clearly wasn’t a criminal.

Reciprocity is something every jurisdiction decides for itself, but the truth of the matter is that, at a minimum, those jurisdictions should respect everyone else’s carry permits.

Allsbrooks should never have faced any charges because there are no charges that should have applied.

Especially considering members of Congress can carry a gun into those same buildings whereas he couldn’t.

Plus, frankly, if he couldn’t carry one, the Capitol Police should damn well do a better job with their screening so as to prevent anyone from bringing one into the building if that’s their job.

I mean, Allsbrooks intended no harm. If someone had, it’s unlikely the Capitol Police would have prevented someone actually trying to sneak a gun through security from doing so.

Yet another reason why folks in that building should be allowed to be armed and yet another reason to remember that the police can’t protect you.