The Capitol Hill staffer who brought a 9 mm handgun to work on July 18 is working with his attorney to get the felony charges dismissed, in light of a federal judge's ruling that D.C.'s law against carrying handguns outside the home is unconstitutional, along with other factors.
Ryan Shucard arrived at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alongside his mother on Thursday, about 20 minutes before his 11 a.m. preliminary hearing. In a quick conversation with the judge, the case was continued until Aug. 27, according to court documents that state the government and Shucard's attorney are still negotiating.
In Shucard's first comment to the press since Capitol Police arrested him, the 26-year-old acknowledged his mistake in carrying a handgun to the Capitol grounds, then tried to pivot to talking points from his role as press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa. Shucard is currently on unpaid leave from the office, pending the outcome of the case.
"I think there's four things that I would be focusing on at this point, and it would be Congressman Marino's geopolitical views on what's going on with Russia and Ukraine, [the] three-point plan regarding the border crisis and it would be his leadership on intellectual property and music licensing," Shucard told CQ Roll Call outside the courtroom. "To me, those are the bigger issues here."
"As far as me," he continued, "there's nothing else that I can really say. No new information. No new comment. Nothing we'd like to share."
According to charging documents, Shucard placed his bag on the X-ray belt inside the southeast door of the Cannon House Office Building and Capitol Police saw the Smith & Wesson handgun and magazine, containing nine rounds of ammunition inside. The cops immediately stopped the screening process, secured the area — just across the street from the Capitol South Metro Station — and detained Shucard for further investigation.
When CQ Roll Call asked about the fear and concern he provoked in the Capitol Hill community by bringing a weapon to campus, Shucard's attorney, Jason Kalafat intervened.
"We have no comment on that," Kalafat said. "He can't speak to what other people would say. It was a mistake."
Kalafat, a partner at Price Benowitz LLP, is still engaged in conversations with federal prosecutors about getting the felony charges, which carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, dismissed. He said the July 26 ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia that briefly negated the D.C. law Shucard was charged with violating was one factor. Federal and local laws banning people from carrying handguns on the Capitol grounds are another consideration.
Shucard wants to return to the Hill.
"I loved my job, yeah, and I still love my job," he said. "So hopefully, the quicker things return to normal the better."
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