D.C. attorney general’s office to investigate display of ammunition magazine on TV

The decision on whether anyone should be prosecuted after “Meet the Press” host David Gregory appeared to hold a high-capacity ammunition magazine on national television now belongs to the District’s Office of the Attorney General, authorities said Tuesday.

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said her department has “completed the investigation into this matter, and the case has been presented to the OAG for a determination of the prosecutorial merit of the case.”

Possessing a magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition, even if empty, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The question of how to proceed now rests with the office of Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, which oversees prosecutions of some low-level offenses. A spokesman for Nathan said the office would not comment until a decision was made.

Gregory’s televised actions mobilized gun rights advocates and others nationwide; thousands have signed a White House petition urging the NBC host’s arrest.

The “Meet the Press” host is under investigation by D.C. police for displaying what appeared to be a high-capacity ammunition clip in an interview with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre on Sunday. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

Many gun rights advocates pressed police to immediately arrest Gregory after he wielded the prop during a Dec. 23 interview with National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre about the massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Those advocates argued that not charging Gregory would show D.C. police to be hypocritical in enforcing gun laws its chief believes are necessary to curtailing violence.

Viewers of “Meet the Press” e-mailed D.C. police after Gregory’s broadcast, and the Patriot Perspective blog received a response saying the matter “is currently being investigated.”

Police have said NBC asked them whether it was legally permissible to show the clip. Police said they told NBC it was not. Some published reports suggest that NBC also sought guidance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and got contradictory information.

Neither Gregory nor NBC has made any public statements regarding the case. An NBC spokeswoman declined comment Tuesday.

NRA President David Keene told CNN last month that he did not think Gregory should be prosecuted, saying the incident shows “in a very graphic way, perhaps not intentionally, but in a graphic way just how silly some of these laws are.”

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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