The D.C. attorney general on Friday declined to charge the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” for displaying an empty ammunition magazine on national television, saying that doing so would not make the District safer.
The decision, coming amid a charged debate over gun laws, spares journalist David Gregory the possibility of jail time. But the attorney general warned the network “of the gravity of the illegal conduct . . . in a city and a nation that have been plagued by carnage from gun violence.”
In a letter to NBC, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan admonished Gregory for knowingly flouting the law, but Nathan said he decided to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and not pursue a criminal case. “Prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia, nor serve the best interests of the people,” Nathan wrote.
The letter ends a nearly three-week-long investigation by D.C. police, prompted by viewers who e-mailed the department after watching Gregory display a 30-round ammunition magazine during a Dec. 23 interview with the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre. The two were talking about the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Those viewers demanded that Gregory be arrested, citing a law that makes it illegal in the District to possess a magazine, even an empty one, capable of holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition. It’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Police investigated and sent Nathan the case Tuesday. After Friday’s decision, authorities would not say whether detectives had recommended prosecution. D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier declined to comment, as did the department’s chief spokeswoman.
Authorities would not say whether detectives interviewed Gregory. The attorney general said his office received a letter Jan. 9 explaining NBC’s position. Nathan said that NBC returned the clip to its owner, who lives outside the District, and the owner surrendered it to D.C. police.