WASHINGTON – NBC journalist David Gregory won’t face charges for displaying what he said was a high-capacity ammunition magazine on his “Meet the Press” show.
D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan announced the decision Friday, saying criminal charges wouldn’t serve the public’s best interests and that the display posed no risk to public safety. But Nathan was clear that Gregory violated the District’s ban on large capacity magazines.
D.C. gun laws generally restrict the possession of high-capacity magazines, regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm or loaded. Police say they told NBC it would be illegal to possess the device.
Police began investigating after Gregory, during taping of his Dec. 23 show, held up an object he said was a magazine that could hold 30 rounds.
Although the magazine was empty, simply bringing it into the District violated D.C. law, Nathan wrote in a detailed letter.
Gregory also displayed a smaller, empty, magazine that could hold five to 10 rounds, which does not meet the District’s definition of a large capacity magazine ban, according to the letter.
Gregory was interviewing National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and used the magazines as a prop while discussing gun control.
“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,” Nathan wrote in his letter. “Of course, the recent tragic, heart-breaking events, particularly at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which appear to have led to the program in question, also underscore our belief in the vigorous enforcement of such laws.”
Nathan noted Gregory’s lack of a criminal history and that the use of the magazines was brief and only to publicly debate gun laws and policies in the United States – a First Amendment right. However Nathan said that other, legal options were available to NBC and were suggested to the network.
Nathan also warned the network that any future violations of the District’s gun laws by NBC or its employees would be prosecuted.