WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police say they are investigating an incident in which NBC News journalist David Gregory displayed what he described as a high-capacity ammunition magazine on "Meet the Press."Now, I have a few questions for Mr. Gregory. First off, how did you receive this magazine? Did you go outside the District of Columbia to purchase it? Did you have someone else purchase it for you? Secondly, did you think to research whether there might be legal issues surrounding your possession of that item? The District of Columbia is known for having strict gun laws - witness the Heller court case, or your fellow journalist Emily Miller's long saga to obtain a firearms permit.
Gun laws in the nation's capital generally restrict the possession of high-capacity magazines, regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. Gregory held up the magazine as a prop for Sunday's segment, apparently to make a point during an interview, even though D.C. police say NBC had already been advised not to use it in the show.
I live in the Volksrepublik of Massachusetts, where my possession of that magazine would be a felony - despite me having a valid MA LTC and having passed background checks and taking classes. I routinely have folks outside of MA e-mail me to check on the legality of these magazines if they're driving through MA or coming to MA for a match. They know that Massachusetts has strict gun laws and do their homework ahead of time - they check to make sure that they are not breaking any laws before they do it.
In short, did at any time you stop to think that this piece of plastic and metal could get you in a world of trouble?
No, you didn't. If you had stopped to check, you would have found out that possessing that magazine in the District of Columbia was strictly forbidden. It certainly sounds like someone at NBC checked, but you went right ahead with the segment anyway, didn't you? See, you think those pesky laws don't apply to you, don't you? You're doing a greater good, using that illegal magazine to make a point and all that, right? It never occurred to you that the reason we protest bans on magazines might just have something to do with the fact that they are selectively enforced and utterly pointless.
That you could procure an illegal magazine and have it in your possession - and then flaunt it on television - tells me that you don't fear legal repercussions resulting from said possession. If you - who were going to display this banned magazine on television for the entire country to see - don't fear being punished, why on earth do you think the petty street thug gives a hairy rat's patoot? Or the crazy loon looking to become the next Charles Manson?
Laws only work at controlling the law abiding. You have managed to illustrate this perfectly, thank you. With your petulant little display, you managed to make the law both irrelevant and yet a centerpiece - you have forced the DC police to either take action based on your breaking of the law or do nothing, in which case we'll see just how useless the laws are. If charges are not brought against you and NBC, then we see firsthand how the very gun laws you support are brushed aside when inconvenient. If charges are brought against you, then maybe you'll understand just how stupid those laws are - because you can do precisely nothing with that magazine even if you had the most evil intent possible.
For those of us that value freedom, this is a win-win scenario. Either Gregory is punished for breaking the law - in which case he learns a hard lesson about capricious and arbitrary gun laws - or he is not, in which case we get to point out the ineffectiveness of those gun laws. Either Gregory goes to jail over a piece of plastic and metal - something that is extremely unlikely to hurt anyone - or he walks, a beneficiary of selective enforcement. It will be interesting indeed to see how this plays out - will the DC police look the other way, or will they bring charges against one of the movers and shakers?
Smart money's on look the other way - but I wouldn't rule out a little deux ex legislata...
That is all.