David Gregory, scofflaw (update: NBC may have received conflicting legal opinions)

I’ve been of the view that it’s a bit silly for the police to investigate NBC’s David Gregory for violating D.C. gun laws by showing a high-capacity gun magazine during “Meet The Press” on Sunday. My inclination was to write the incident off as “show and tell” carried a little too far.

But now, we learn that the local police told NBC it was “not permissible” to show the magazine on air:

“NBC contacted [the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department] inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment,” Gwendolyn Crump, a police spokeswoman, said in an email. “NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazine is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.”

Since Gregory’s conduct seems to violate the letter of the law, and since he apparently was informed (via his employer) that the conduct was unlawful, I can understand why the police see fit to investigate, and why prosecution may be warranted.

JOHN adds: It seems to me that there is another substantive point to be made here, too. The magazine that Gregory displayed is illegal in the District, yet he evidently had little difficulty in getting his hands on one. Liberals talk about gun laws as though they operate by magic, but of course they don’t. There are several practical issues with a high-capacity magazine ban: 1) There are already a huge number of such magazines, for many, many varieties of firearm, in circulation. The idea that they could somehow be collected by the federal government is absurd. 2) In case of a nationwide ban, high-capacity magazines could easily be smuggled into the U.S. from a country where they are legal (or plentiful, anyway), much as the magazine that Gregory displayed was smuggled from a state where they are legal. 3) A magazine is an extremely simple device. I wouldn’t know how to make one in my garage, but many, many thousands of Americans do know how. The idea that the production of such devices, consisting essentially of a piece of sheet metal and a spring, could be banned, is sheer fantasy. If the government wants to enact an unconstitutional ban on guns, fine; that won’t work, either, but at least you can’t make a gun in your garage. But an attempted ban on magazines is a joke.

UPDATE (by Paul): TMZ reports that a staffer from “Meet the Press” called the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives before the show aired to inquire about the legality of Gregory holding the empty magazine during a segment on gun control. Supposedly, the ATF agent contacted the D.C. police to find out if the District of Columbia — the place where the show is broadcast — had a law prohibiting such a display. The D.C. police official responded that Gregory could legally show the magazine, provided it was empty.

TMZ concludes that “Meet the Press” may have gotten conflicting answers from D.C. law enforcement. However, based on the wording of the statute, it’s difficult to see how it can be interpreted as allowing possession of a magazine, whether empty or not.

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