US Capitol Police arrested a congressional staffer on Tuesday morning after he tried to enter a US Senate building with a loaded 9 mm handgun in his backpack, according to CNN.
The staffer, Christopher Carpenter of Stafford, Virginia, works for the Senate sergeant at arms, the officer who oversees security, law enforcement, and protocol measures in the upper chamber, said CNN. He was entering the Dirksen Senate Office Building when the gun was discovered by a routine X-ray screening.
He was charged with unlawful activities and possession of unregistered firearms and unregistered ammunition, Capitol Police Capt. Kimberly Schneider told The Associated Press.
Carpenter manages the Senate ID office and has been working for the sergeant at arms for 1 1/2 years, according to Roll Call.
Carpenter will be on annual leave while the charges are being processed, but will return to work, an official familiar with the matter told CNN.
Carpenter pleaded not guilty to his charges on Wednesday, according to a court docket cited by Roll Call.
According to Roll Call, the “charging document” reportedly noted that, after his gun was detected and Carpenter was asked if he had anything in his bag, he “indicated that he had forgot to remove his handgun from his bag this morning when he left for work.”
While Carpenter claimed to have a licence to carry a concealed firearm in Virginia, the charging document noted that he did not have a licence for a pistol in Washington, DC, where the Dirksen Senate Office Building is and where the arrest took place, Roll Call said.
The Dirksen Senate Office Building contains the offices of 18 US senators, according to the Capitol Visitor Center. A large part of the building was evacuated in June following a phone call reporting a suspicious package, described by police as a bomb threat. Investigating police ultimately found nothing suspicious.
In August, a US Marine assigned to a congressman’s office was arrested in August on a charge of bringing a handgun onto congressional property. The incident was described as a mistake, but was one of several instances of a staffer bringing a gun onto congressional property that summer.
Roll Call noted that Carpenter’s LinkedIn profile lists his service for the US Marine Corps.
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