Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier seems to think that gun-control laws don’t apply to the liberal elite. The police chief helped Sen. Dianne Feinstein acquire “assault weapons,” which are illegal to possess in the District, for a news conference early this year to promote a ban on these firearms, then tried to cover up the police involvement.
Now, a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveals Chief Lanier’s shocking willingness to bend the rules for partisan and ideological purposes.
Feinstein wants guns
Lobbyist Chuck DeWitt emailed Chief Lanier on Christmas Eve last year. “Sen. Feinstein has asked us to bring examples of assault weapons used in the worst incidents over the past few years.” The CEO of the Lafayette Group told the chief that the guns would be put on display at a media event and asked, “Could you put me in touch with your person who would have any of these weapons?”
Chief Lanier’s response was not turned over.
However, a week after Mr. DeWitt’s request, Mrs. Feinstein’s press secretary, Tom Mentzer, asked the commander of the police department’s Crime Scene Investigation Division, Keith Williams, for 10 specific firearm models used in high-profile mass shootings, including a Bushmaster XM-15, Tec-9 handgun, Smith & Wesson M&P15 and a Glock 19 with a “high-capacity magazine.”
Since Cmdr. Williams did not have all the firearms the senator sought, Mr. DeWitt asked Philadelphia police to provide the missing ones, which meant bringing “the P15 and the Glock extended magazine” to Washington.
All of these firearms are illegal in the city — even on federal property — owing to the District’s law banning rifles with a detachable magazine and such features as a pistol grip or folding stock and all firearms with a magazines capacity of more than 10 rounds.
Chief Lanier wanted to help Mrs. Feinstein, but didn’t want the media to know.
Cmdr. Williams emailed Mr. Mentzer to put a “bug” in his ear that the police would “prefer that no mention of the fact that the weapons came from D.C. or were recovered by MPDC in the official language or speeches.” Mr. Mentzer replied, “By not mentioning where the weapons came from, we open ourselves up to the same charge against David Gregory.”
He was referring to the anchor of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” who knowingly procured an illegal 30-round magazine in the District as a stunt for his TV show, but was not charged.
The office of Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer coordinated bringing the illegal weapons onto Capitol Hill for Mrs. Feinstein’s dramatic Jan. 24 news conference introducing her new “assault weapons” ban.
Kathryn Stillman, the campus-access coordinator for Mr. Gainer, emailed Cmdr. Williams and Mrs. Feinstein’s staff to recommend the firearms be mounted on a board with zip ties so that Mrs. Feinstein could “point or even touch, but no need for any particular handling.” This was to ensure that it could be argued later that the senator never had “possession” of the illegal guns.
After seeing the weapons on display at the press event, I asked Mr. Gainer’s office about the legality and was told that the firearms were the property of the D.C. and Philadelphia police departments. A spokesman for Mrs. Feinstein, Brian Weiss, told me that his office ”coordinated” with the police and that “the weapons were under Washington MPD possession the entire time.”
But when I asked Chief Lanier’s spokesman, Gwendolyn Crump, about the guns, she refused to confirm they belonged to MPD. I followed up the next day with several more questions to Ms. Crump.
From the FOIA documents, I now know that she sent my second email to Chief Lanier, who then forwarded it to three people with notes.
Chief Lanier wrote to Philadelphia Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, “I am really disappointed in Terry [Gainer]. This is exactly why I didn’t want to participate.” She said to Mr. Gainer, “This is completely contrary to our agreement to participate in this event. We will not participate again.”
The chief wrote to lobbyist Mr. DeWitt, “So much for our agreement.” Mr. DeWitt replied: “Well, Ramsey and Feinstein followed our script, but who would have guessed that [Gainer] would burn us.” He drafted a response for the police to send to me and added in a note, “I don’t know how you put up with people like Emily … .” Chief
Lanier replied, “Thanks, Chuck, unfortunately this will be the next tail wagging our dog for weeks.”
No special favors for Republicans
A week after Mrs. Feinstein’s publicity stunt, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were refused permission to bring a hunting rifle and an AR-style rifle to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Mrs. Feinstein’s “assault weapon” ban.
The Republican senators sent a letter of complaint to committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, but were still forced to use just a photo of a standard wooden hunting rifle with a plastic pistol grip at the hearing in order to demonstrate that simply adding the ergonomic feature transformed the gun into one that would be illegal under her ban.
Mrs. Feinstein’s staff gloated: “I was gratified to hear Sens. Cruz and Graham complaining that getting weapons into their hearing today was ‘unworkable,’” Mr. Mentzer emailed Cmdr. Williams and another officer with a news story about the Republicans not being able bring in even a legal rifle. “I find you guys ENTIRELY practical, for the record.”
The police have yet to turn over a majority of the documents I requested. The FOIA officer wrote that she was “still searching” and “will release them, if any are located.”
The police stonewalling and cover-up are so that the public doesn’t find out that Chief Lanier enforces laws differently in the District, depending on whether you are a powerful liberal who opposes Second Amendment rights, like Mr. Gregory and Mrs. Feinstein, or an average American.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).