No gun magazine charges for David Gregory
NBC’s David Gregory is off the hook for showing a high-capacity gun magazine on “Meet the Press” and will not be prosecuted, D.C.’s attorney general announced on Friday.
D.C. attorney general Irvin Nathan on Friday said he would decline to prosecute in the case involving the Sunday show host and any NBC staffers. In a letter to NBC’s attorney Lee Levine, Nathan wrote that after reviewing the matter, his office “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 broadcast.
The office made its decision “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.”
Nathan noted that his office’s decision in this case was also influenced by “our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States.”
Still, Nathan said other, legal means should have been used to demonstrate Gregory’s point.
The NBC show said in a statement to POLITICO that its staffers respect both the attorney general’s decision and his rebuke regarding the gun clip.
“We displayed the empty magazine solely for journalistic purposes to help illustrate an important issue for our viewers. We accept the District of Columbia Attorney General’s admonishment, respect his decision and will have no further comment on this matter,” the show stated.
During a Dec. 23 interview with National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre, Gregory displayed what he said was a 30-round magazine as he discussed the role of high-capacity magazines in the Newtown shooting.
According to D.C. law, it is illegal to possess a large capacity magazine — defined as holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition — even if it is empty. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to one year in in prison.
Nathan wrote in the letter that while “some misinformation” was provided to NBC initially over the legality of displaying the high-capacity gun magazine, a Metropolitan Police Department employee advised the network showing it on the broadcast would violate D.C. law. “There was no contrary advice from any federal official,” Nathan added.
The letter stated that the high-capacity magazine was originally returned by NBC to its lawful owner, outside of D.C., before it was surrendered to the Metropolitan Police Dept.
“OAG also recognizes the cooperation NBC has provided in the investigation of this matter,” Nathan wrote.
But, Nathan said, NBC should understand that his office’s move not to press charges 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 full extent supported by the facts and the law,” he wrote.
The case went to the District’s office of the attorney general earlier this week after the Metropolitan Police Department completed its investigation into Gregory and “Meet the Press.”
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