NBC’s David Gregory has gotten away for nearly a month with violating Washington’s firearms law on national television. The Metropolitan Police Department concluded its official investigation into the “Meet the Press” host’s display of a prohibited 30-round rifle magazine on the live program, passing the buck to the District’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
In an email to The Washington Times on Wednesday, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s spokesman, Gwendolyn Crump, said the matter “has been presented to the OAG for a determination of the prosecutorial merit of the case.” While Mr. Gregory got away without being arrested, 105 other people were booked by police last year on charges that included possession of “high-capacity” feeding devices.
OAG spokesman Ted Gest told us the decision on whether to prosecute Mr. Gregory would come “possibly this week.” Firearms lawyer Richard Gardiner was not suprised by Chief Lanier’s referral of the case without arrest.
“This is not unusual for high-profile cases. The police investigate the facts and give the results to the prosecutor to decide whether to bring charges,” he explained. “It’s also routine in cases like this where the crime was not committed in police officers’ presence.” If the OAG decides to proceed, a warrant for Mr. Gregory’s arrest will be sought.
Ms. Crump would not say whether the Sunday-show host was interviewed or a search warrant issued, as might be done in more ordinary circumstances.
Asked whether it was normal for the police not to interview a suspect as part of an investigation, Mr. Gardiner said it depends. “The police usually only interview people who are not sophisticated and wealthy, because the police figure they don’t have counsel and so don’t know that they can say, ‘no,’” he explained.
Mr. Gardiner defended James Brinkley in court after the Secret Service arrested and jailed the Army veteran in September on charges that he brought “high-capacity” magazines and an unregistered gun into the District. The OAG stubbornly refused to drop the charges, despite overwhelming evidence that Mr. Brinkley followed all the laws of the District in transporting these legally owned items through the city.
Mr. Brinkley refused to accept a plea bargain that would have meant a guilty plea to a lesser charge and decided instead to take his chances before a judge. Mr. Brinkley described D.C. Assistant Attorney General Rachel Bohlen as “coming at me like I’d shot somebody” in the courtroom. Nevertheless, Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Carroll Wingo acquitted Mr. Brinkley on all the firearms charges.
Mr. Gregory’s case is also similar to that of former Army Spc. Adam Meckler, who was arrested in 2011 for the nonthreatening crime of unknowingly bringing unregistered ammunition — without a gun — into the city. Spc. Meckler regrets accepting a deal from the attorney general that required him to plead guilty, pay a fine and be put on the District’s Gun Offenders’ Registry.
Right now, the White House is mulling over the use of executive orders to impose gun control, and the Senate is looking to enact national restrictions on certain types of rifles and rifle magazines. Lawmakers need to realize there are real-life consequences to enacting these onerous restrictions.
If such laws are going to stay on the books, then Mr. Gregory should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, just as Mr. Brinkley and Spc. Meckler were. Mr. Gregory’s misdeed is hardly the crime of the century, but as long as the District prosecutes offenders, nobody should get a pass, not even famous and wealthy television stars.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.