David Gregory Off The Hook, Barely

David Gregory, the host of NBC’s “Meet The Press”, will not be prosecuted in connection with his displaying a large capacity gun magazine on the December 23 broadcast. A local law in Washington D.C. (where the show is taped) makes it unlawful for any person to “possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” or loaded. Gregory displayed the magazine on the broadcast in connection with a discussion of gun control with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. And while I’m sure Gregory is relieved (as are the lawyers who advised him it would be okay to bring the magazine on the set) there is an important lesson here. The D.C. officials used their “prosecutorial discretion” to “decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory.” But it couldhave brought charges. As the letter points out: “no specific intent is required for the violation, and ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense.” The point is, the media doesn’t get a pass when it comes to laws of “general applicability.” The First Amendment is not a license to trespass, wiretap, or in this case, possess an illegal firearm. As the letter also notes: “[t]here were … other legal means to available to demonstrate the point and to pursue this line of questioning. . . .” We all love dramatic effect, but it has its limits. Gregory may have other problems. He’s apparently now a target of the NRA’s hostile ad campaign, which identifies him as an “elitist hypocrite.” Apparently the NRA believes that the 2d Amendment protects its right to shoot the messenger.