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Gun-toting Capitol Hill intern makes court appearance

An intern who was arrested for bringing an unloaded handgun to his job at the Capitol Monday was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and released from jail Tuesday.

Joshua Wheeler, 25, was ordered to stay away from the U.S. Capitol building and its ground and could face up to five years in prison for the felony, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

According to Roll Call, the D.C. Superior Court Judge who heard Wheeler's case said it was clear he misunderstood Washington, D.C.'s strict gun laws but rejected a request from Wheeler's attorney that Wheeler be allowed to return to the Capitol as long as he isn't carrying a firearm.

The attorney, Pierce Suen, indicated that Wheeler wanted to complete his internship with Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas. But that seems unlikely.

"In Mr. Wheeler's two weeks in Congresswoman Jenkins' office, he was well-liked and did a fine job in his role as a Congressional intern. He came to our office highly recommended from community leaders in his adopted hometown of Atchison, Kansas where he briefly served as Deputy County Clerk for the City of Atchison. At this time our goal is to ensure Mr. Wheeler can move on from this and return home to Kansas," Jenkins spokesman Tom Brandt said in a statement.

Wheeler was arrested Monday morning just after 9 a.m. when security guards found a 9 mm handgun in his bag during a security check at the Longworth House Office Building. According to the police report, Wheeler explained that he had planned to go to a gun range with a relative over the weekend but didn't get to go. He removed the magazine before coming to work Monday morning, but said of the handgun, "I didn't think that was in there."

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