When "Meet the Press" host David Gregory showed National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre what looked like a 30-round gun magazine during their contentious interview Sunday morning, the NBC journalist may have broken the law.
Gregory was aggressively questioning LaPierre about whether he would support any new gun control laws when he may have run afoul of some which already exist in the District of Columbia.
And now, according to a report in Politico, Washington, D.C., police are investigating.
“The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating this matter,” said police officer and spokesman Araz Alali in an interview Tuesday. “There are D.C. code violations, D.C. code restrictions on guns, ammunition. We are investigating this matter. Beyond the scope of that, I can’t comment any further,” he said.
As Politico notes, D.C. has a restrictive gun control law -- and it's possible that whoever purchased or possessed the magazine could have crossed the line.
The presence of the gun magazine on the show raises questions about a section in the D.C. code — much cited by conservatives and gun rights activists after “Meet the Press” on Sunday — which stipulates that “No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. For the purposes of this subsection, the term ‘large capacity ammunition feeding device’ means a magazine,” among other devices.
Gregory and NBC have yet to comment.
Washington police warned NBC not to show the magazine clip on the air, according to a statement received by the ABC affiliate in the city and reported by Politico.
“NBC contacted [D.C. police ] inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment,” said police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump. “NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazine is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.”
The Washington Post learns that the D.C. police's gun unit is investigating first whether the interview was taped within the city, and then whether the clip was real and loaded. If a charge is brought, a defense lawyer tells the paper, it includes a fine and up to one year in prison.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said detectives would be reaching out to NBC officials, but had not yet spoken to Gregory. Any request to use a magazine would have been turned down as a matter of course, the official said, because it would have implicated police in an illegal act.
David Benowitz, a District defense attorney who handles gun cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, said the ammunition charge Gregory could face is a rarely prosecuted misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. The attorney said Gregory would be permitted a jury trial.