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Washington - No Charges For NBC Host For Displaying On-Air High-Capacity Ammunition Clip

Published on: January 12, 2013 10:01 PM
By: AP
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Washington - NBC journalist David Gregory won’t face charges for displaying a high-capacity ammunition magazine on his “Meet the Press” news program last month, District of Columbia prosecutors announced Friday.

The city’s Office of the Attorney General, which handles low-level crimes, said criminal charges wouldn’t serve the public’s best interests even though possession of the magazine — capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition — was clearly against local gun laws.

“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 Amendment purpose 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” after the Connecticut school massacre and President Barack Obama’s address to the nation, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan wrote a lawyer for NBC.

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Still, Nathan said, there were other legal ways to prove the point and that “there is no doubt of the gravity of the illegal conduct in this matter, especially in a city and a nation that have been plagued by carnage from gun violence.” He said it was a “very close decision” to not bring charges.

Firearms laws in the nation’s capital generally restrict the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines, such as the one Gregory said he was holding up during a Dec. 23 interview, regardless of whether they’re attached to a firearm. Punishment can carry up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

D.C. police say NBC asked for permission to use the clip during a segment and was advised that it would be illegal, though NBC has said it received conflicting guidance from other law enforcement sources.

Gregory held up the magazine as a prop during an interview on gun control with Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

“Here is a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets. Now, isn’t it possible that if we got rid of these, if we replaced them and said, ‘Well, you can only have a magazine that carries five bullets or ten bullets,’ isn’t it just possible that we could reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?” Gregory asked, referring to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

LaPierre replied: “I don’t believe that’s going to make one difference. There are so many different ways to evade that even if you had that” ban.

Police began investigating after the program aired and recently referred its findings to the attorney general’s office.

The NRA couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday.

However, NRA president David Keene told CNN last month that he didn’t believe Gregory should be prosecuted for what he called a “silly felony.”

“I do think it illustrates the craziness of some of these laws,” Keene said at the time.

Gregory, a longtime correspondent, was named “Meet the Press” moderator in 2008. The program is generally taped in Washington.

“Meet the Press” issued a statement Friday that said: “We displayed the empty magazine solely for journalistic purposes to help illuminate 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.”

 

 


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 12, 2013 at 10:10 PM Anonymous Says:

Its not clear why they even wasted 5 minutes "investigating" the use of a prop to make a point on a TV news program.....even though the D.C. shooting rate was down last year to the lowest level in over 20 years, there are still real crimes that need investigating.

2

 Jan 12, 2013 at 10:55 PM Reb Yid Says:

But if a non-member of the media had done the same thing, or if a member of the media had done so in order to assert his second amendment rights rather than his first amendment rights, there's no question he would've been prosecuted.

3

 Jan 12, 2013 at 11:02 PM awacs Says:

Of course - the rich and famous get a pass on the law. Nothing to see, move along here ...

4

 Jan 12, 2013 at 11:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Reb Yid Says:

But if a non-member of the media had done the same thing, or if a member of the media had done so in order to assert his second amendment rights rather than his first amendment rights, there's no question he would've been prosecuted.

Yup....if your a gun nut walking around with a high capacity mag in D.C. you will be in jail and for good reasons.

5

 Jan 13, 2013 at 12:58 AM Raphael_Kaufman Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

Yup....if your a gun nut walking around with a high capacity mag in D.C. you will be in jail and for good reasons.

What harm can one do carrying around a "high capacity magazine" without ammunition to load it with or a rifle to put it in?

6

 Jan 13, 2013 at 07:41 AM Anonymous Says:

you guys are all wrong, there are 2 different set of standards, one for the liberal media and one for the rest of the world,
you can do what ever you want if you are a liberal member of the media,
in fact the law cant even touch you
imagine if someone from FOX pull the same stichk, he would of been thrown in jail and then read his rights

7

 Jan 13, 2013 at 07:44 AM MarkTwain2 Says:

Anyone caught with the TIME issue naming Obama as person of the year should be investigated for possession of a high-capacity ammunition magazine.

8

 Jan 14, 2013 at 09:59 AM proman Says:

quick question: have we even been told the actual weapon that was used in this shooting?

9

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