News & Politics

D.C. Cops Take Aim At NBC's David Gregory; Gun Nuts Go After CNN's Piers Morgan

When 'Meet the Press' host Gregory displayed an empty ammo magazine to the cameras in his D.C. TV studio, the local police sicced investigators on him.

Meet the Press host David Gregory displays a 30-round magazine designed for use in an assault rifle.
Photo Credit: NBC News screenshot

During his contentious interview with the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre on Sunday, December 23, Meet the Press host David Gregory performed a public service. Asking if the NRA CEO and executive vice president would support a federal ban on the sort of high-capacity magazine used by Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza, Gregory displayed two empty magazines, the part of an ammunition supply that houses the bullets available to a shooter before he has to reload.

While framing his argument, Gregory held up to the camera a 30-round magazine (meaning that it carries 30 bullets), and then a five-round magazine. The difference in size was dramatic. Gregory asked LaPierre

So here is a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets. Now isn't it possible that, if we got rid of these, if we replaced them in said, "Well, you could only have a magazine that carries five bullets or ten bullets," isn't it just possible that we can reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?

Of course, LaPierre denied that such a ban would have helped. (Video is on the last page of this post.)

There was only one problem with Gregory's presentation: In Washington, D.C., where Meet the Press has its studios, possession of a 30-round magazine is already illegal, placing Gregory on the wrong side of the law, despite the educational purpose for which he used it. So, the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department snapped into action, launching an investigation of Gregory and NBC for possible violations of the District's gun code.

In a locale that still ranks among top 20 most dangerous U.S. cities (after a precipitous drop in murderous crime took it out of the Forbes top 10 this year), many question the wisdom of devoting police resources to investigation Gregory's acquisition of an empty magazine. In fact, throughout the media and political worlds, ridicule might be a more apt term.

And talk about strategic blunders. Cops are generally keen on gun control; now the anti-gun control forces the talk show host challenged are weighing in on Gregory's behalf, using the MPD investigation to make their point. From the Wall Street Journal editorial board, via Politico's  Dylan Byers:

"How perfect can you get?" the Journal's editorial board snarks. "Mr. Gregory interrogates Mr. LaPierre on the subject of whether to ban a magazine that it is illegal for Mr. Gregory to display but apparently easy enough to acquire in time for a Sunday morning broadcast. So here we have a possible indictment that would be entirely nonsensical of a journalist who was trying to embarrass an NRA official over an ammunition ban whose impact would be entirely symbolic."

Even the NRA, never missing an opportunity to disparage gun control advocates, weighed in:

"I really think what David Gregory did while he was inadvertently flouting the law was illustrating in a very graphic, perhaps not intentionally, but in a graphic way just how silly some of these laws are," said NRA President David Keene on CNN's Newsroom show.

No Investigation of FreedomWorks for Apparent Weapon Violation?

Meanwhile, Mother Jones reports that in the course of a showdown between the principals of the Tea Party-allied group, FreedomWorks, at the organization's Washington, D.C., headquarters, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- then the group's chairman -- arrived for a meeting with an armed security guard in tow. The guard, Armey told MJ, wore a holstered weapon behind his back, concealed by his coat. In the District of Columbia, the carry of concealed weapons is strictly forbidden. 

No word yet of a high-profile Metropolitan Police Department investigation of Dick Armey, FreedomWorks, or Beau Singleton, the security guard.

Gun Nuts Demand Piers Morgan Deportation

Meanwhile, in a tangentially related story, gun enthusiasts have launched a petition to have Piers Morgan, the British CNN host, deported for his comments, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, about Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt. As reported by Byers on December 19:

In a heated debate last night, Morgan called Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, "dangerous," "stupid" and an "idiot." Morgan showed no tolerance whatsoever for the argument, voiced by many pro-gun conservatives, that shootings could be prevented if everyone carried a firearm.

The petition calling on President Barack Obama to have Morgan deported now has more than 80,000 signatures, Politico's Katie Glueck reports.

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Adele M. Stan is a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.