David Gregory Won’t Face Charges Over Gun Clip Display

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.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1152494442 Stephen Macklin

    “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,”

    Really? Aside from not mentioning the personal connection between Gregory and the DC Attorney General you seem to have missed this statement from the AGs letter:

    “OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law,”

    The AG apparently had little doubt that Gregory had broken the law. The AG also believes it is an important law. Not important enough to apply to the right class of people though.

    As for the argument that this was just a journalistic demonstration and therefore should not be considered a crime, the AG also noted: “no specific intent is required for this violation.”

    The AG decided:

    “a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District.”

    It is stunning for the AG to state that prosecuting gun control laws would not promote public safety. You can be certain the AG’s statement will be part of the defense of the next ordinary citizen brought to trial in DC for possessing a high capacity magazine.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hooson/100002939023994 Paul Hooson

      There wasn’t any evidence that the suspect gun clip was actually owned by Gregory. Who do you actually charge here? A prosecutor can’t just go on a big fishing expedition here and haul in everyone who works at NBC to find some suspect item. This isn’t like some grade school pocket search for a missing pencil eraser or something. A police officer really needs to actually be present when someone is in possession of an item like this, and even that’s not good enough for a conviction here because this law has shaky constitutional basis.

      A prosecutor, like anyone else, carefully must choose their fights. There wasn’t really much here for the prosecutor to act, despite some political pressures from some pushing and shoving him, but this isn’t how law works. Law works by actually having evidence and building a good case. The prosecutor actually had few things to work with here, and also risked this entire unconstitutional law.

      • Vagabond661

        What if it was a bag of crack cocaine? Wouldn’t they ask Mr. Gregory where he got it?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1152494442 Stephen Macklin

        Ownership is not the issue. Just as according to the AG intent is not an issue.

        Under the law in DC possession is a crime. A crime the AG stated that Gregory clearly committed.

        The bottom line is Gregory got a pass for a criminal act for which many others have been prosecuted.

        I think your assertion that there would have to be a police officer present is about the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Gregory in possession of a banned firearm component was broadcast to potentially millions of eye witnesses – myself among them. And it is recorded and readily available for public view in the internet.

        The police without the need of a warrant could gather all of the evidence they need to prove that Gregory was in possession of a banned munitions clip in a five second search of YouTube.

        Your assertion that the AG was acting to protect an unconstitutional law hardly does anything to improve the appropriateness of his decision.

        Accept it. This just another example of the guiding principle of the governing class that laws are for the little people.

  • Vagabond661

    Oh now they are touting the 2nd Amendment. And by the way, Irvin B. Nathan – Democrat.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1152494442 Stephen Macklin

      And by the way Nathan is a personal friend of Gregory.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hooson/100002939023994 Paul Hooson

        David Gregory was never questioned by D.C. police here, so much was left unanswered such as was it some producer’s idea to locate the gun clip and ask David Gregory to use it as a prop? Was it Gregory’s idea? Who actually contacted the local D.C. police from NBC to ask permission to use the gun clip as a “show and tell” item, but was denied by the local police? Who contacted the ATF from NBC, who gave the network permission to use the clip? Who did David Gregory give the gun clip back to at the end of the show, and where did this gun clip go? Was this an actual gun clip or just a prop item that looked authentic enough on the air?

        I don’t understand why it’s so important here that some journalist be made as some scapegoat here for whatever decision might have been passed down by some involved with management at NBC’s MEET THE PRESS. It’s likely an unconstitutional law that should be applied to as few persons as possible because the law is so questionable and likely violates the 2nd Amendment as well as exceeds federal law.

        Producers of the NBC show made a statement available to Politico where they appeared to take responsibility for the decision to use the gun clip on the air. But, by this statement does this mean that David Gregory had any involvement here or not? I think it’s asking too much for some to demand that some journalist be prosecuted for some decision that his superiors or producers might actually have made for them. The producers of the show seem to be taking collective responsibility for the decision to use the gun clip. Maybe that’s the truth. Or, maybe, it’s just a “I’m Spartacus” moment of everyone standing together in brotherhood. I don’t know. NBC considers this now a closed matter.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1152494442 Stephen Macklin

          The known facts here are fairly simple yet you continue to ignore them.

          1. it is illegal to possess a large capacity magazine in Washington DC. According to the Prosecutor there is no requirement of intent for this to be a violation of the law. Possessoin is the violation.

          2. David Gregory was in possession of a 30 round magazine while in Washington DC. This is verified by his own on-air statements that are recorded and publicly available. Even the DC Prosecutor acknowledges the “clarity of the violation.

          3. There have been prosecutions in Washington DC for the exact violation that Gregory committed.

          Laws are for the little people. Gregory is not one of us.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hooson/100002939023994 Paul Hooson

            TV and movie production work often seem to have some special rights not afforded to public as implied in some court rulings. A good example is the application of prostitution laws within Los Angeles County in California. Heidi Fleiss, the accused “Hollywood Madam” was first convicted of attempted pandering, but a court later overturned the charges on appeal. But, she was convicted on federal income tax evasion charges. Compare this to R rated or X rated films produced in Los Angeles County, where the State Supreme Court found that prostitution charges cannot be brought against film producers who pay persons to have sexual activity as part of a movie production. This is why the adult film industry flourishes in Los Angeles County.

            The prosecutor in D.C. not only had some problems bringing charges against Gregory because of the difficulty of securing the physical evidence involved, further since no policeman never even interviewed Gregory, any chances of any charges actually being filed were pretty remote. The prosecutor claims that is was a “very close decision”, but likely it really wasn’t here. Most any judge probably would have thrown out any charge because this was part of a news broadcast. The style of MEET THE PRESS is generally that of a news discussion and not using file footage. So, the biggest change to this oldest show on TV is probably the use of some news file footage to make a discussion point if really needed.

            Props departments for various NBC shows could have easily fashioned some replica to look like a gun clip. From what I see from NBC, that wasn’t addressed either as lawyers for the network seem to have kept every legal door open to appeal and decision not in their favor.

            Strangely, Stephen, you seem to be making a class warfare argument here, that laws don’t seem to apply to the wealthy or powerful. But, I don’t think this is entirely the case here. NBC did receive permission from the ATF to use the gun clip as part of the hour long news program, and the local D.C. law is probably an unconstitutional local law that seeks to skirt violating the 2nd Amendment by banning gun parts rather than guns itself. And, likely this local law is still a violation of the 2nd Amendment, and would be overturned by most federal judges.

            At the federal level, you can probably expect the Biden committee to seek similar bans on the sale of new high capacity gun clips or even the sales of new assault rifles. But, likely any proposed ban on the sale of new items would be tested in court and the federal government would have a difficult to impossible time seeking to ban the ownership of existing assault weapons or high capacity gun clips such as the local D.C. law attempted. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court at some point rules that assault type weapons are merely military or police weapons, not included among 2nd Amendment rights, then any real ban on assault weapons may be toothless in reality. And any local law such as the D.C. law probably went way too far when it attempted to ban the ownership of legally purchased existing gun parts. Retroactive laws like this sometimes have very shaky legal ground in the courts. The D.C. local law didn’t ban the sales of some guns or gun parts, but the existing ownership of legally purchased and owned gun parts. Good luck to D.C. getting that to hold up in court on appeal by anyone convicted of such a questionable charge.

            A few days ago I got a very rare $65 parking violation ticket for having expired tags on my truck when I had to go to a title office for a quick meeting before I was headed out to get my truck registered that day. I’ve appealed this parking violation by producing a letter from the mayor where he claims to be enforcing the clean air laws my ticketing vehicles with expired tags. The fact of the matter is that motor vehicle registration laws are covered under state laws, clean air rules are covered by state DEQ laws and rules and not displaying current tags is treated as a moving violation under state laws by the police, where the local city government has not been authorized by the state to make their own clean air, vehicle registration rules or moving violation laws. The city has been ticketing about 13,000 cars and trucks each year illegally as a parking violation for enforcement of clean air rules or vehicle registration rules that they are not authorized to by the State Of Oregon, or any state agency. I’m waiting for the judge’s decision here. The bottom line is that local governments cannot enact local laws that they don’t have authority to enact. The D.C. local rule is in a similar situation here. D.C. probably lacked the authority to ban existing gun parts as well as to violate the federal constitution here.

            There are a few examples of military weapons not sold to the public. The U.S. military no longer allows the sale of old U.S. military tanks to the public. Collectors of military tanks have to buy British tanks such as used Chieftains if they want to collect tanks. But, I’m not sure if this is merely a military rule or an actual federal law, and it only applies to U.S. tanks, and not foreign ones.

          • fustian24

            Look most of us think that the magazine law is a stupid one.

            But it’s still the law in DC. Maybe it will be overturned some day, but until that day, it is a crime to have in your possession the clip that David Gregory used as a prop on television.

            Gregory should have been prosecuted.

            Period. End of story. Open and shut case.

            But it would have been ridiculous, wouldn’t it? Because it’s a stupid law. Everyone knows it is. It should be struck down.

            Consider if he had brought a small nuclear weapon into the studio. He’d have been put in jail. Because everyone knows that those things are actually dangerous.

            Those clips aren’t.