Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Selective Enforcement"

DC police investigating 'Meet the Press' incident 
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."

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.
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.

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.


Ed Demers said...

I am also VERY interested in what, if anything, will happen. Please keep us updated if you hear anything!

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

I'm guessing it will be nothing, but one can always hope.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Eric Holder will show up and tell everyone it's just a simple misunderstanding and nobody will get prosecuted on my watch.

In all likely hood he won't be prosecuted and will blame some poor office intern for not providing him with information that his bosses were told no.

Brad_in_MA said...

Brother Jay . . . Holy Brother of Moses has this story gone viral. It even showed up on a CNN !!!! broadcast. Now perhaps that's a little network-vs-network rivalry, but holy crap on a cracker. If left-leaning CNN is grabbing onto this story, then it must have some merit.

I have been wondering about a "chain of possession" of said 30round magazine. If Mr. Gregory didn't purchase the mag in a place where it is legal to possess, who did? If anyone else, say an MSNBC staffer handled the mag prior to broadcast, wouldn't that person or persons also be in hot water as they too had possession?

I don't know the law in Virginia, but let's assume that 30 round standard cap mags are ok in VA. Perhaps one of your readers in VA can comment. Did Mr. Gregory drive to a sporting-goods shop and buy it? Was it legally possessed by an MSNBC staff member who is a VA resident & then passed it to Mr. Gregory? If the VA resident transported the mag into DC, doesn't that make him/her a criminal in DC as well? Inquiring minds want to know.

As for your possession of a 30 rounder in MA, my understanding is that if the mag is dated prior to 9-13-1994 it is legal to possess with a Class A License to Carry. It is also stated in our laws that if a magazine is unmarked in any way and its age cannot be determined, it is assumed to be LEGAL to possess. I know, Magpul mags that are unmarked are verboten manufacture of them didn't begin until after the 9-13-1994 date. However, for something like an unmarked USGI surplus magazine, my understanding is that such an item is ok to have in MA, with proper licensing.

And then there's the whole "bovine excrement" about rimfire mags. Same deal applies. I won't name names but I heard about a fellow with a 25-round mag for a ruger 10/22. The "born on date" for the mag was on the packaging . . . and this fellow keeps the packaging in a safe place to have legal proof that the mag is compliant with current law. To counter, possession of an identical mag built one day later makes this person a felon.

I'm sure the good people who seek to restrict our 2A rights see this as a problem. If the likes of Diane Feinstein are hell bent on stopping the sale of all magazines with capacities of greater than 10 rounds, what are they going to do about all the millions of AR, AK, and various pistol mags in circulation already? Are they gonna have a "magazine buyback"? If that's the case, I'll bring this stack of National Geographics and old copies of Time that've been cluttering up my basement.

- Brad

Mopar said...

I thought I heard somewhere that he's claiming it was a non-functional prop that he seems to have misplaced. Prove otherwise, case closed.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"I don't know the law in Virginia, but let's assume that 30 round standard cap mags are ok in VA."
They are. VA has no restrictions on magazine size, except for one screwy law* that applies when carrying certain firearms in certain areas.

* I'm pretty sure that law was written in exchange for enough votes to get a more permissive concealed carry law passed back in '91, and has been left pretty much untouched since. The areas where it applies would have been (and still are, mostly) the most anti-gun parts of the state, but also have significant representation - and therefore significant legislative power - due to having very high population densities compared to the rest of the state.

Dregan3D said...

He 'had permission'

As in, a letter from the ATF dated three days after the interview.

Selective, indeed.

Anonymous said...

As law-abiding citizens we are expected to navigate the labyrinth of conflicting state laws regarding firearms and we do successfully everyday. Although many of these laws don’t seem to make sense to firearm owners we still respect them and abide by them everyday.

Firearms are used more often by law-abiding citizens for self-defense than by deranged criminals to commit horrible acts of mass violence. For several examples for the recent use of firearms for defensive purposes not typically reported by the national media please visit: and forward this address to others to whom this information may be useful. @forceequalizer

Miguel said...

Emily Miller tweeted:
Asking @DCpolicedept -- Will you investigate @davidgregory possession illegal 30-round mag in DC? You made me convert mine to 10-round.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Is anyone else getting all the spam comments from this post in their email, even though it's not showing up here?