Well, we saw this one coming. It's been nearly a month since NBC's Meet the Press host David Gregory illegally possessed a 30-round ammunition magazine on national television during an interview with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. During the interview, Gregory made it clear he supports a ban on high capacity magazines. Washington D.C. firearms law states it is a crime to possess any ammunition magazine that holds more than 10-bullets, even if the magazine is empty.
“No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. A ‘large capacity ammunition feeding device’ means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition."
People possessing magazine props are also eligible for prosecution. D.C. police turned the investigation into Gregory over the the Washington D.C. Attorney General's Office earlier this week. Turns out, Gregory won't be prosecuted or arrested for his actions.
Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast.
A reminder of the evidence...
Gun control for the peasants, not those who live in ivory towers.
UPDATE: Emily Miller has the letter on the decision here. It looks like Gregory got off because authorities believe he didn't intend to cause harm with the magazine.
Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in everycase involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within ourcriminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline tobring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23,2012 broadcast. OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.
Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendmentpurpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States,especially while this subject was foremost in the minds of the public following the previously mentioned events in Connecticut and the President's speech to the nation about them. There were, however, other legal means available to demonstrate the point and to pursue this line of questioning with the guest that were suggested to NBC and that could have and should have been pursued.
OAG also appreciates that the magazine was immediately returned to the source that NBC understood to be its lawful owner outside of the District and that the magazine in question, with NBC's assistance, has been surrendered to MPD. OAG also recognizes the cooperation NBC has provided in the investigation of this matter.
On the other hand, no specific intent is required for this violation, and ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense. We therefore did not rely in making our judgment on thefeeble and unsatisfactory efforts that NBC made to determine whether or not it was lawful to possess, display and broadcast this large capacity magazine as a means of fostering the publicpolicy debate. Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on thebroadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advicefrom any federal official. While you argue that some NBC employees subjectively felt uncertainas to whether its planned actions were lawful or not, we do not believe such uncertainty was justified and we note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect.
NBC should be made aware that OAG's decision not to press charges in this matter was a very close decision and not one to which it came lightly or easily. Accordingly, NBC and its employees should take meticulous care in the future to ensure that it is in full compliance with D.C. law whether its actions involve firearms or any other potential violation. Repetition by NBC or any employee of any similar or other firearms violation will be prosecuted to the fullextent supported by the facts and the law.
I am confident that you will convey our deep concern and warning to your client.
Irvin B. Nathan
Attorney General for the District of Columbia
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