NBC’s “Meet The Press” correspondent David Gregory is in hot water. On a segment he did while interviewing NRA chief lobbyist Wayne LaPierre he brandished a high capacity magazine, which is illegal to possess in Washington, D.C. As a strict matter of law David Gregory should be arrested and charged. The penalty is very strict in Washington, D.C.:
A person guilty of this charge can be sentenced to a maximum fine of $1000 and/or up to a year imprisonment. D.C. Criminal Code 7-2506.01.
Those who are defending David Gregory wish him to be exempt from the law because he is a journalist and was actively reporting on the topic of gun violence and not a menace to society. It is true that the law is silly and pointless and should be repealed, however, so long as it remains on the books the law applies equally to everyone – media elite or otherwise. There is some sweet irony in an aggressive gun control advocate getting caught up in a law designed to appeal to supporters of gun control that does nothing to deter criminals but hassles law abiding citizens.
Seriously, NBC News relied upon what some police officer told ATF which told NBC News? Wouldn’t anyone with half a brain reach out to the D.C. Police directly?
Yes, of course, that’s exactly what NBC News did, it contacted the Metropolitan Police Department directly and was told that it was against the law and they were not permitted to use the magazine on the television show. Yet NBC News did it anyway, and now the defense is that someone told someone who told us it was okay?
That’s no “misunderstanding.” Also, NBC has a legal department, did the show contact that department which would have found the answer pretty easily?
And anyway, the law does not require a knowing violation.
David French lays out three very interesting points regarding the Washington, D.C. high capacity magazine ban that David Gregory has so ably demonstrated:
- First, even “banned” magazines are ridiculously easy to acquire.
- Second, labyrinthine gun-control restrictions serve mainly to instantly (and often inadvertently) convert otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.
- Third, strict-liability gun offenses breed disrespect for the law.
The law does not make any exemption for reporting purposes so if David Gregory is allowed to evade the penalty then our country is sliding into a dangerous scenario – one rule for the regular folks and another for the elites.
And that is partly the point of conservative criticism–to point out that gun control, as it already exists, ensnares otherwise law-abiding citizens in absurd and self-contradictory regulations. The other point is to illustrate that the mainstream media elite, and the liberal political forces it serves, want to apply one law to themselves and another to the rest of America. It is all right for Gregory to violate the law, but a private citizen might go to jail.
Fortunately, the courts have already ruled on a somewhat similar case – award winning reporter Larry Matthews wanted an exemption from the law against possession of child pornography because he was working on a story about the subject.
The court dismissed Matthews’ First Amendment argument as “powerful rhetoric” that has “visceral appeal” but which is not a recognized defense under the law. While such a defense may work in a prosecution over adult pornography, it does not apply to child pornography, because the interest in protecting the sexual exploitation and abuse of children justifies greater limits on its distribution, the court held. The interest at stake in adult pornography cases — protecting “the sensibilities of unwilling recipients” — can be outweighed if a work has artistic, literary or other value.
The court also rejected Matthews’ argument that the statutory provision under which he was prosecuted violates his due process rights because it applies even if there is no criminal intent. Proper application of the statute does not require that the defendant knew he was breaking the law or acted with bad motive or evil intent, the court held, but rather that he knowingly engaged in the activities that the statute criminalizes.
It doesn’t look too good for David Gregory right now.