WASHINGTON – NBC journalist David Gregory won’t face charges for displaying a high-capacity ammunition magazine on his “Meet the Press” news program last month, District of Columbia prosecutors announced Friday.
The city’s Office of the Attorney General, which handles low-level crimes, said criminal charges wouldn’t serve the public’s best interests even though possession of the magazine – capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition – was clearly against local gun laws.
“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” after the Connecticut school massacre and President Barack Obama’s address to the nation, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan wrote to a lawyer for NBC.
Firearms laws in the nation’s capital restrict the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines, such as the one Gregory said he was holding up during a Dec. 23 interview, regardless of whether they’re attached to a firearm.
D.C. police say NBC asked for permission to use the clip during a segment and was advised that it would be illegal, though NBC has said it received conflicting guidance from other law enforcement sources.
“Meet the Press” issued a statement Friday that said: “We displayed the empty magazine solely for journalistic purposes to help illuminate an important issue for our viewers. We accept the District of Columbia Attorney General’s admonishment, respect his decision and will have no further comment on this matter.”
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