It was back in 2012 when the former host of NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory, attracted a fair amount of unwanted attention when he knowingly violated a pointless District of Columbia law regarding “high capacity” weapons magazines by displaying one on his show. At the time there were howls of protest, not from those who supported the law, but from the ones who found the law to be unconstitutional and ineffective. Why, we asked, should Gregory be allowed to blatantly flaunt the law when the rank and file citizen could not? Would he be arrested and tried for this?
Obviously he was not. But demonstrating exactly how much one group of bloggers can accomplish with the help of some deft legal minds, Professor William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection has been carrying on a more than two year battle to get to the bottom of it. And now he has the answers.
The short version is that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department warned NBC News that it could not possess an actual high-capacity magazine, but NBC News went ahead and did it anyway. The MPD recommended a warrant for Gregory’s arrest, but that request was nixed by the D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan because — my paraphrase — Gregory was just too nice a guy and had no other criminal intent.
That attitude stood in stark contrast to the D.C. Attorney General’s vigorous prosecution of other lesser-known people who also were nice people and had no other criminal intent, but violated D.C.’s gun laws.
They won that suit, and now D.C. has delivered the goods. Jacobson has the affidavit at the link above where you can read the whole thing. It is obvious why they wanted to cover this up, because there was clearly a case to be brought against Gregory and there were people in law enforcement who were ready to do it. But the entire thing was stalled because Gregory was too nice of a guy for them to go around doing anything distasteful like arresting him.
I also agree with the Professor regarding the intent of all this effort and publicity. I didn’t want David Gregory to be prosecuted for having that magazine. But the larger point is that I wouldn’t want to see anyone prosecuted for that “crime.” But if you’re going to force laws such as that onto the books, why allow some NBC talking head to just flaunt them? And yet that’s exactly what happened.
I think everyone should be giving a big round of applause to William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection. This was a long, sustained effort which did the work that mainstream journalists absolutely refuse to do. Maybe it was too hard. Perhaps they just don’t want to cover something which could make trouble for one of their own inside the gated community of network news. But the truth was finally brought to light, and we have Jacobson and his colleagues to thank for it.