The Attorney General for D.C., Irvin B. Nathan, has forwarded a letter to a lawyer for NBC in which he has declined to press charges against journalist David Gregory after some claim that he illegally possessed a large capacity gun clip for display purposes on a segment of MEET THE PRESS with Wayne LaPierre of the NRA as guest. The incident resulted in a police investigation of Gregory and NBC, but the Attorney General for D.C. just didn’t feel that the display for merely illustrative purposes warranted prosecution.
One hand, Nathan claimed that it was a “very close decision” not to bring charges against Gregory or NBC, but on the other hand, the prosecutor noted that the display of the suspected illegal gun clip was in a climate of a national debate following the tragic school shooting in Connecticut.
But, there were many problems with any prosecution of this case here. David Gregory or no one at NBC were actually ever questioned by D.C. police. Further, no crime was actually committed in the presense of a D.C. police officer, where police are not certain who actually brought the gun clip to NBC or actually owned the gun clip, that David Gregory merely displayed. The D.C. law has mostly been used in the 105 cases prosecuted so far to seek a search warrant against felons who might have been in illegal possession of a gun or gun parts, or someone who attempted to board a passenger airliner, with a gun or gun parts in their possession.
Further, the D.C. law is likely unconstitutional because it exceeds both federal law as well likely violates the 2nd Amendment of The Bill Of Rights. Any case involving NBC would have likely resulted in the law being overturned as an unconstitutional local government ban on guns, that a local government has no legal authority to enforce.
Strangely, some conservatives who support gun rights were the strongest advocates for the prosecution of David Gregory here. But, this political position was poorly thought out here because it wasn’t clear who was the actual owner of the gun clip that David Gregory displayed on the nationally televised program. Further, police didn’t have this gun clip in their custody as evidence in order to prove whether it was real or a fake prop, or whether a crime was actually committed, and it would have been a serious political mistake for gun rights activists to push local governments to enact illegal and unconstitutional local laws banning either guns or gun parts, when The Bill Of Rights prevents government from banning the public ownership of guns except in a few specific cases such as keeping guns out of the reach of children, or preventing felons or mentally ill from access to guns.
If gun rights activists want to see unconstitutional local laws banning guns overturned, then they’ll have to find some other test case other than this one. The local prosecutor in D.C. had little legal grounds to pursue a prosecution of either NBC or David Gregory here. With a real lack of evidence, and no public statements by either Gregory or NBC, D.C.’s top prosecutor really had nothing here, and could have risked his unconstitutional law which has been selectively enforced to remove a few bad people from the streets in most cases of the actual application of the local law. Sometimes, questionable laws like this only work as a useful tool to seek a search warrant against some dangerous felon. D.C.’s prosecutor had nothing to gain here by putting this local gun control law at risk here. NBC has amble legal funds to overturn such a bad law, whereas some smalltime felon doesn’t have as much money to hire lawyers to overturn the charges against themselves.