DC AG Letter to NBC: Here’s Why Gregory Skates for Illegal Possession of a Standard Capacity AR-15 Magazine

GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Office of the Attorney General
January 11,2013

Lee Levine, Esq.
Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP
1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20036

Re: Meet The Press

Dear Mr. Levine:

As you know, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has referred to this office (OAG) the results of its investigation of the broadcast by your client, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), of the news program “Meet the Press” on Sunday December 23,2012. On that broadcast, during the course of an interview of a guest regarding firearms policy in the United States, the program host, David Gregory, exhibited on camera a large capacity ammunition feeding device (“magazine”) in violation of D.C. law. I have also received and reviewed your letter to me of January 9, 2013, explaining the circumstances under which Mr. Gregory came into possession of the magazine, the purported confusion from the allegedly conflicting advice from federal and local law enforcement sources, and assurances by your client of future compliance with our laws . . .

The device in the host’s possession on that broadcast was a magazine capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition. The host also possessed and displayed another ammunition magazine capable  of holding five to ten rounds of ammunition. Neither magazine contained any ammunition nor was either connected to any firearm. The broadcast took place from NBC studios located at 4001 Nebraska Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C.

It is unlawful under D.C. Code Section 7-2506.01(b) for any person while in the District of Columbia to “possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” or loaded. Under the Subsection, the term “large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition.” Under D.C. Code Section 7-2507.06, any person convicted of a violation of this Subsection may be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined not more than $1,000,

The larger of the two ammunition feeding devices in question here meets the definition under the statute. OAG has responsibility for prosecuting such offenses and takes that responsibility very seriously. We have a history of aggressively prosecuting violations of this statute where the circumstances warrant. 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. Of course,the recent tragic, heart-breaking events, particularly at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, which appear to have led to the program in question, also underscore our belief in the vigorous enforcement of such laws.

Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23,2012 broadcast. OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.

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 following the previously mentioned events in Connecticut and the President’s speech to the nation about them. There were, however, other legal means available to demonstrate the point and to pursue this line of questioning with the guest that were suggested to NBC and that could have and should have been pursued.

OAG also appreciates that the magazine was immediately returned to the source that NBC understood to be its lawful owner outside of the District and that the magazine in question, with NBC’s assistance, has been surrendered to MPD. OAG also recognizes the cooperation NBC has provided in the investigation of this matter.

On the other hand, no specific intent is required for this violation, and ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense. We therefore did not rely in making our judgment on thefeeble and unsatisfactory efforts that NBC made to determine whether or not it was lawful to possess, display and broadcast this large capacity magazine as a means of fostering the public policy debate. Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on the broadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advice from any federal official. While you argue that some NBC employees subjectively felt uncertain as to whether its planned actions were lawful or not, we do not believe such uncertainty was justified and we note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect.

NBC should be made aware that OAG’s decision not to press charges in this matter was a very close decision and not one to which it came lightly or easily. Accordingly, NBC and its employees should take meticulous care in the future to ensure that it is in full compliance with D.C. law whether its actions involve firearms or any other potential violation. Repetition by NBC or any employee of any similar or other firearms violation will be prosecuted to the full extent supported by the facts and the law.

I am confident that you will convey our deep concern and warning to your client.

Sincerely,

Irvin B. Nathan
Attorney General for the District of Columbia

avatar

About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

67 Responses to DC AG Letter to NBC: Here’s Why Gregory Skates for Illegal Possession of a Standard Capacity AR-15 Magazine

  1. avatarGrog says:

    One set of rules for some another for others. Or “we’ll bend the rules when it serves our agenda”

    • avatarMr Pierogie says:

      Here in NJ I am allowed to own a G19 mag which holds 15 rounds, but a G17 mag which holds 2 more rounds is a major no-no. But let’s say I get one somehow and go around showing it to people explaining how dangerous this mag is and that nobody really needs one. If I get arrested, can I claim that I was just exercising my 1A right? Just like Gregory, I have no criminal record, I’m not a threat to anyone. Can I claim the Gregory exemption?

      • avatarEagleScout87 says:

        print up 2 copies of the letter, save one for yourself, give one to your lawyer. Make sure he has a copy at all times. In court, you may be able to get away with it. You’re still getting arrested most likely. Double standard indeed.

      • avatarMilsurp Collector says:

        I am also an NJ gun owner and though I am not a lawyer, I can certainly tell you that your idea wouldn’t work as planned because there is no legal way to dispose of mags of an illegal capacity in this state. If a 30 round AK magazine were to magically fall out of the sky and land at my feet right now, by the letter of the law I would automatically be considered a felon for “possession” of an illegal magazine with no legal recourse to dispose of it in NJ. The only way to undo this ridiculous “felon” status would be to straddle the gray area of our all ready ambiguous laws and do one of the following three options:

        1. Take the mag to another state where it’s legal to own and sell it, trash it, or keep it with relatives who live there.

        2. Torch cut it to pieces.

        3. Take it to another state, block it permanently so it can’t accept more than 15 rounds, (thus making it an NJ legal magazine) and then bring it back into NJ. There are NJ gun owners who have guts and do this, but what cop is going to check to see if your mags actually hold less than 15 rounds if he sees them? He’ll just automatically think “normal sized AK, AR, etc. magazine = illegal” and arrest you, and then you’ll spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer and court fees to get a 20 dollar mag back.

        I once tried to buy an MG42 saddle drum in PA with a chain of 50 links to go with it. Unbeknownst to me, both the drum and the 50 links put together are illegal in NJ because they both count as “magazines” and can hold over 15 rounds, so the clerk wouldn’t sell them to me being from NJ. Not kidding, put one more link than 15 on a belt feed chain in this state and you become an instant felon. It’s absolute insanity.

    • avatarrangered says:

      The whole “LAWS FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ME” is really what this Gun Control argument boils down to. And when added to the fact that Congress exempts themselves from any inconvenient laws they pass, whether its health care or pensions or other laws that effect OUR daily lives, it is apparent that we are quickly coming to the tipping point where the masses are arrayed against the Politicians, the Elite, the Intelligentsia and the Beautiful People of the Entertainment World who are all able to ignore laws {i.e. Geitner and his Taxes, Sibelius and her taxes, Gregory and his magazines and Lohan and her myriad criminal charges and parole violations}. Those same laws that they testify before Congress that it is critical and only fair that We The People be ruled under.

    • avatarLibertyToad says:

      This is the interesting part:

      “OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.”

      So, do they think allowing some laws to be broken and others ignored “serve the interests of the people” and/or promotes “trust”?

      What a bunch of morons….

  2. avatarpk in AZ says:

    Ignorance of the law is no frikken excuse…

    One rule for them

    One rule for us

    What a joke

  3. avatarguzzimike says:

    Translation = go sit in the corner and think about what you did.

    I still think that if I was walking around DC with a YouTube film crew (1st amendment rights)and waving a 30 round “clip” & talking about the ridiculousness of mag limit laws I would be writing this from a room w/bars

    • avatarIvy Mike says:

      Somebody should make a “fake” one (painted molding clay would work) and do exactly that, testing if anybody would get hassled for a likeness of that during an obvious exercise of 1A rights.

      This unfairness is a leak in their flimsily-constructed dam. Don’t let them plug it easily.

      P.S. Multiple cameras are needed if you do it, as this protester learned. The pigs will try to “confiscate” cameras they see. Keep some cameras rolling “across the street” too.

  4. avatarMike in NC says:

    Seemingly within minutes of the letter being made public it was discovered that the DC AG is friends with Gregory’s wife.

    • avatar16V says:

      Not terribly surprising. The farther up the food chain you go, the more everyone knows each other.

      There’s always been two sets of rules in this, or any other country. It’s just getting harder to sweep under the carpet now.

    • avatarWill says:

      That’s what it was? I was going to suggest that NBC was going to make a rather nice contribution to a certain campaign fund if they didn’t prosecute.

  5. avatarIvy Mike says:

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. ~George Orwell (Animal Farm, 1945)

  6. avatarRepubAnon says:

    I’m surprised that they didn’t prosecute, and then plead it out to a fine. The TV station could have publicized this, and $1,000 is probably less than the station spends on bottled water in a week.

    Just as HSBC Bank is “too big to prosecute” for their criminal acts in helping drug cartels launder their illegal profits, perhaps big media stars are also too important to be held accountable for criminal acts. Or, perhaps they were worried that the Supreme Court would use such a case to strike down the ban on large capacity magazines. Bad facts make bad law – and prosecuting a news organization for a visual aid that is legal in most parts of the country would be the best possible argument for overturning the magazine ban as “overbroad”.

  7. avatarchip says:

    What a pile of crap!!

    To summerize…If you are in favor of restricting the Second Amendment then you can break all the laws you want because we (Attorneys, cops, politicians) agree with you. Nothing to see here keep moving….

  8. avatarsupton says:

    I’m going to dissent here. Yes, it’s clear that this is a case of set of laws for us, another set for you. But, if they had prosecuted, would the fallout been worse? “Dear, did you see how that nice reporter man had to pay a fine, nearly went to jail, and now has a criminal record for just holding a piece of metal? Seems extreme to me…”

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      Yes, exactly the reaction they’re hoping to avoid, because people would start thinking about how stupid their laws are.

  9. avatarTony says:

    I wonder if they let him go to prevent the NRA from trying to give Gregory legal help to show how stupid this law is to begin with?

  10. avatarGs650g says:

    If Hannity did this they would have him arrested.

  11. avatarSCS says:

    Bullsh!t, Irvin. He broke YOUR law. End of story.

  12. avatarBill F says:

    “Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record”. Of course he has no criminal record. How could he? The privileged few are never held accountable..

  13. avatarTim says:

    what a crock of shit.

  14. avatarChubby says:

    So where is OWS? Shouldn’t they be Occupying Gregory? I mean he’s part of the elite 1% who tinkles on the backs of the 99% and tells them it’s raining….

    Oh wait…….

  15. avatarBob says:

    Is it moral to want an immoral law enforced against someone you don’t like?

    If a peasant was caught in a similar situation you wouldn’t want the law enforced against him, would you?

  16. avatarNine says:

    Translation: He’s on our side, he’s untouchable. Neener-neener.

  17. avatarThe Smiling Swordsman says:

    I don’t think he should be prosecuted because I don’t think it should be illegal to process a 30 round mag in the first place.

    • avatarChuck says:

      Thats all well and good, but what about all the people who have been prosecuted using this law? Do away with the law, but for the love of God, you can’t have two standards if the law is in place. If you are going to prosecute anybody, you have to prosecute everybody.

    • avatarTJB says:

      Not only should he be prosecuted…. No enforcement=no law, but he sbould march right down to the station, turn himself in, enter a guilty plea and start his time or pay the fine. To knowingly break the law in an effort to show how important the law is should mean that you accept those consequences before you even step out in the stage. If you robbed a bank, or stole a car to show how important the laws banning those activities were would you expect the police to say… “Well we’ve learned so much from your top knotch journalism… Thank you.. You’re free to go.”? No.. And anything less then prosecution or turning ones self in to face the panalties only illustrates how meaningless this type of law can be.

  18. avatarShire-man says:

    If they’re going to admit that enforcement of the law is pointless and unnecessary then why dont they just nullify the law?

    Oh, that’s right, they still want that excuse to string folks up when they feel like it.

    I’m tempted to flash a mag on the DC streets. No ammo in sight. No rifle around anywhere. Just an empty metal box. And say “this is a 30 round magazine.”

    Would the DC cops be so kind to me? Given the precedent they should be, right?

    • avatarChuck says:

      We should march on Washington, everybody carrying a 30 round mag.

      • avatarstormchaser says:

        F! that, if we can break the firearms law and claim first amendment protection, I will march from the Vietnam memorial to the white house with my AR, full 30-round mag in place.

        I have a feeling if thirty buses pull up and offload 900 of us doing the same no one would stop us.

    • avatarMike123 says:

      I wish I was nearby, I’d join you. We could earn a very big civil rights violation settlement.

      There are lots of blue mags that if painted right could look really real. If someone does this, get an attorney to prep you and be on standby.

  19. avatarrb says:

    BTW, where is the F-ing A-hole anyway?? NBC keeping him on ice?

  20. avatarKCK says:

    Good laws should always be enforced.
    Bad laws if enforced are unjust.
    Bad laws if enforced selectively is the wedge of corruption.

  21. avatarRalph says:

    Has the MSM been co-opted by the G, or has the G been co-opted by the MSM? They’re so busy s^cking each other d!cks that sometimes it’s hard to tell.

  22. avatarqajaqon says:

    ….”to promote the First Amendment” …for the “purpose” of denouncing the Second Amendment.

    That is why….

    Shame !!

    Nous Defions

  23. avatarrangered says:

    What would happen if thousands of law abiding citizens marched into D.C., each holding an unloaded 30 round magazine? Would they be forced to arrest every one? And if so, would Gregory’s use of a magazine for “1st amendment” purposes also serve as a precedent for each of the thousands citizens exercising their own 1st amendment rights?

    • avatarChuck says:

      Extrapolate it further. If it is ok to break that law, what if the magazines are loaded? Then what? Or what if everyone has an unloaded AR with no magazines. Can you imagine the shit storm if ten thousand people marched on Washington with unloaded AR’s and demanded equal protection under the law?

  24. avatarGregolas says:

    In criminal law this is called a”strict liability crime” as I tell my criminal justice students, it’s like a speed limit or a stop sign law. The only question is whether you complied with the statute TO THE LETTER or not.(Intent to commit the crime is not an element of the crime that must be proven as in,say, robbery.) The prosecution DOES NOT have to prove criminal intent to violate the law, they only have to prove you violated the statutory standard of behavior. The D.C. statute Gregory violated is just such a law. If you exceed the speed limit ONE mph, you can be arrested and convicted of speeding. Similarly, your only defense to running a stop sign would be to claim you were temporarily unconscious until you “came to” on the other side of the intersection.
    Because he violated a strict liability law, Gregory is guilty. Instead of the mumbo-jumbo, the D.C. cops & attorney general need to just come out and admit the exercised”prosecutorial discretion” in this instance and fess up to the fact that since he’s a liberal media shill pushing an agenda they favor, the let him skate,

  25. avatarMikeP says:

    Did I read that right? Someone outside of the jurisdiction of DC (presumably) lawfully posessed the 30rnd mag and, for some hairbrained reason, sent it to NBC on loan to use as a prop to petition that it should not be lawfully posessed within the jurisdiction of the entire US … the mag was returned to its rightful, (presumably) lawful owner only to then be promptly surrendered to authorities, all with the “assistance” of NBC? Maybe it’s a typo, perhaps they meant “insistance”? Lawfully owned property surrendered to authorities? I suppose to “prove” how “reasonable” the owner is … how “common sense”. Somehow.

  26. avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

    The US AG should investigate all involved for some sort of illegal collusion. Oh wait, Holder is still the US AG. Nevermind.

  27. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    This just in, gregory reviews his FN heavy belt fed machine gun next. Class 3 license? don’t need no stinkin license. You see, he’s not “intending” to shoot down an aircraft with it. It’s nice to get clarification from the OAG, & I thought I could dance good, Randy

  28. avatarNathan says:

    While in general I would agree, this thing does happen for the lowly subjects as well, namely myself. I was moving from WA to TX, and my sister threw some stuff in my backpack for me including some mags for my XD. I had 5, but could only find 4 of them when I went to ship them to myself (driving through CA, decided to follow the letter of the law) thought it was lost/packed away somewhere. Get to TX, fly back to WA 6 weeks later for my sister’s wedding. Going through screening, I get pulled aside. The mag that I had lost was found by your friendly TSA agent deep in my backpack. Soooo, I get detained with my wife, they confiscate the mag, the Harris county sheriffs come and talk to me, look at my CPL, then send me on my way (luckily we had got to the airport pretty early, so we didn’t even miss our flight). The TSA supervisor said I would get a letter from them with a disposition of the case, because I had broken a civil infraction, not criminal. She said I would probably end up paying a fine of $100-$200. I get a call a week later from a DHS investigator, explain the situation to him, and a month later get a strongly worded letter very similar to the one above. No fine, no further action.

    Do I think I did something wrong? No. But it was against the law, and IMHO because I was humble and cooperative, I didn’t get delayed in my flight and I didn’t end up forking over any cash. I’m out the $30 for the mag. Oh well, lesson learned.

  29. avatarguzzimike says:

    At the rate this stuff is going keeping “X” rounds in a Tupperware container along with a spring from a ballpoint pen will be considered a violation. It has all the elements of a mag so the rocket scientists on the other side will view it as constructive intent.

  30. avatarFoster says:

    1. After reading about the many good and law abiding people whose lives have been ruined because of a few loose bullets, checking their pistols in gun free zones or traveling through DC with properly stored and locked guns in the trunk. They give this guy and his cohorts a free pass.
    2. There’s no acceptable excuse for not prosecuting the people involved.
    3. If any pro 2A citizen had brought the magazine on the show to “educate”people. Excersing their 1A right, they would have been prosecuted and incurred tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and branded a nut.
    4. Where are all of the protests demanding justice be served?!
    5. Another example of the hypocrisy. Time for another White House petition to have the people who unlawfully possessed that illegal item prosecuted for knowingly violating the law.

  31. avatarGov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    I hope someone who has been busted for violating these asinine laws sues DC and wins a million dollars for unequal treatment under the law. Then anyone who can afford a non court appointed lawyer will also skate.

    Now the rant;
    If you don’t have equal treatment under the law then what you have is corruption and tyranny. One of Stalin’s right hand men who ran the gulags once said, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.” We live in a country where there are so many laws that it is physically impossible to even be aware of the vast majority of them. The tax code alone is 70,000 pages! Everyone of us is guilty of multiple felonies and the only reason we haven’t been arrested and jailed is that we haven’t crossed the wrong bureaucrat and we haven’t been placed under scrutiny. We have set the stage for a charismatic leader to take over all of our freedoms with the tacit approval of a complicit media. God help us when that happens.

  32. avatarGyufygy says:

    I really don’t want to say the Mainstream Media is corrupt and has an agenda. I really don’t want to say the Mainstream Media spreads misinformation and applies a double standard. It reeks of conspiracy, tinfoil, and conservative paranoia.

    Except all the evidence shows the sumbitches actually are corrupt, do have an agenda, spread misinformation, and show a blatant double standard!

  33. avatarUSMC says:

    So it be alright for Gregory to hold up a big bag of cocaine on his show if he was doing a report on illegal drugs? That’s covered under his first amendment rights too, right?

    /sarc

    • avatarDaniel Silverman says:

      Of course, along with raping women while doing a report on sexual assault too!!

    • avatarpsmcd says:

      You got it man. Gregory yes, you or me, no.

      “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 following the previously mentioned events in Connecticut and the President’s speech to the nation about them. ”

      In the above; judgement = bias, other things = whatever we want and don’t have to say, informing = slanting, especially = because we say so.

      What a bunch of tripe.

  34. avatarWilliam says:

    I don’t understand what the fuss is about. The ATF TOLD him it was legal. Isn’t that good enough for you, even if it’s ILLEGAL?

    • avatarDaniel Silverman says:

      This is a serious issue. Washington DC law should over power anything the ATF says. Law is law.. Basically if the ATF said it was ok it was telling him to break the law, you can not make exceptions on the matter. Regardless of the purpose of breaking the law.

  35. avatarTrapdoor says:

    The national Democratic Party and the Government of the District of Columbia is largely fascist.

  36. avatarKevinYK says:

    Here is their logic. I’ m in California and I can bring an illegal 25 round magazine to the range to show a friend how “devastating” a weapon can be because I’m exercising my 1A rights. This is great! Pro-gun lawyers should be all over this ruling. It basically says the right to possess 30 round magazines is protected by 1A rights!

    • avatarTrapdoor says:

      Good idea, but unfortunately it will only work if you are a well-placed crony of the Democratic party and president Obama.

      You can have a concealed carry permit in New York City if you are a crony of Mayor Bloomberg.

  37. avatarMikeinCV says:

    “OAG also appreciates that the magazine was immediately returned to the source that NBC understood to be its lawful owner outside of the District and that the magazine in question, with NBC’s assistance, has been surrendered to MPD. OAG also recognizes the cooperation NBC has provided in the investigation of this matter.”

    WFT?

    If it was returned to its owner OUTSIDE of DC, why was it surrendered to the MPD? Now that they have it, it will probably never see the light of day again.

    • avatarWill says:

      Also a possibility that NBC’s “cooperation” threw the legal owner under the bus… ya know, the owner knowingly let it go to DC, where it is illegal to be in possession of it and show it off, for said showing off… Thus the owner gets prosecuted and the media-man gets a pass… Hmmm, perhaps it wasn’t NBC making a special contribution to a campaign fund after all.

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.