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Man Arrested Outside Supreme Court on Weapons Charges

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


An elderly man was arrested after the United States Capitol Police found a “suspicious van” parked on Capitol ground that had several weapons inside of it.

“Capitol Police arrested an armed 80-year-old Georgia man illegally parked in a suspicious vehicle outside of the Supreme Court building on Wednesday. Two other individuals were detained, but not arrested, according to a USCP statement. The individuals said they were here to deliver documents to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Business Insider reported.

“USCP said in a tweet that they charged the suspect, who was not publicly identified, on three counts, including possession of an unregistered firearm, unregistered ammunition, and carrying a pistol without a license,” the report added.

The USCP said in a statement:

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This afternoon the United States Capitol Police (USCP) Hazardous Incident Response Division cleared a suspicious vehicle, which was illegally parked on Capitol Grounds.

USCP Officers arrested the driver after he admitted to having guns in the vehicle– a small white van. Weapons are banned from Capitol Grounds, yet dozens of people are arrested each year for violating the law.

Around 3:45 p.m., USCP officers noticed the van was illegally parked along the 100 block of East Capitol Street. The driver told us he had guns in the van. A K-9 also “hit” on the vehicle. The driver, another man, and a woman were all detained during the search. Officers found two handguns and a shotgun inside the van.

The individuals told our investigators they were there to deliver documents to the U.S. Supreme Court. A pipe and containers were also found in the van, so the USCP Hazardous Incident Response Division did a thorough search and cleared the van. 

The driver, 80-year-old Tony H. Payne of Tunnel Hill, Georgia, was charged with Unregistered Firearm, Unregistered Ammunition, and Carrying a Pistol without a License. The woman and the other man, who was briefly detained, were not arrested.

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Public perception toward the U.S. Supreme Court has taken a turn, especially since Joe Biden took office last year and Democrats have made a slew of controversial comments after several high-profile rulings.

According to a late September survey from Gallup, trust in the U.S. Supreme Court is at a historic low, and significantly down from a high of 80 percent in 1999. Today, 47 percent “of U.S. adults say they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ of trust in the judicial branch of the federal government that is headed by the Supreme Court,” the polling firm reported.

“This represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago, including seven points since last year, and is now the lowest in Gallup’s trend by six points. The judicial branch’s current tarnished image contrasts with trust levels exceeding two-thirds in most years in Gallup’s trend that began in 1972,” the pollster added. “In addition to documenting record-low trust in the federal judiciary, the new Gallup poll also finds a record-tying-low 40% of Americans saying they approve, and a record-high 58% saying they disapprove, of the job the Supreme Court is doing.”

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The pollster added: “A third measure of the high court, from Gallup’s June Confidence in Institutions poll, found confidence in the Supreme Court also at a new low. That poll was conducted before the court issued the Dobbs decision but after the leak of a draft opinion, in that case, signaled that the court was poised to overturn Roe. By all Gallup measures, then, Americans’ opinions of the Supreme Court are the worst they have been in 50 years of polling.”

The nation’s highest court is not the only American institution suffering from a loss of confidence. In July, Gallup reported that trust in 11 of 16 institutions had declined significantly, with the average level of trust at a new low, driven by an 11 percent decline in the Supreme Court and a 15 percent decline in the presidency.

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Americans had the most trust in small businesses (68 percent), the U.S. military (64 percent), and law enforcement (45 percent). They had the least trust in Congress (7 percent), TV news (11 percent), and big business (14 percent).

At the time, the nation’s highest court admitted that a “copy of a draft opinion in a pending case” was made public, but added that it did “not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Nearly four months after the leak, the identity of the leaker is still unknown, however.

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