David Gregory, host of NBC’s Meet the Press program, used a 30 round AR-15 magazine as a prop while ‘interviewing’* Wayne LaPierre of the NRA several weeks ago. Unfortunately for him, he did it in Washington D.C. You see, the city fathers of Washington consider a piece of folded steel with a spring and a piece of plastic inserted into it to be anathema to public safety. In any part of unoccupied America, it would just be a prop. In D.C., it’s a crime.
Now, Mr. Gregory did this will full knowledge of the law. Someone from his staff had contacted the D.C. police, who informed them that such an object was illegal and that it was likely to explode and kill everyone within 1/4 of a mile of ground zero once it crossed the Potomac from Virginia. OK, maybe I made that last part up, but they did tell them that possession of a 30 round magazine was illegal in the nation’s capital.
But NBC and Mr. Gregory did it anyway. To make a point with Mr. LaPierre, this brave practitioner of civil disobedience proudly waved the magazine in front of the cameras, almost daring The Man to come down on him and make him a martyr in the cause of civil rights.
Of course, that’s not what happened, and if you were surprised that the D.C. Office of Attorney General decided to not prosecute him, you really ought not try crossing the street without adult supervision. Apparently it was a hard decision to make, but in the end, the OAG decided that no-one was hurt in this incident and it wasn’t in the best interest of the District to prosecute anyone, so Mr. Gregory is a free man.
Of course, last year, the OAG prosecuted 15 other people for precisely the same crime, including an Army veteran who had two empty 15 round magazines for his legally transported pistol in the trunk of his car. Apparently something is different here.
I tried to come up with a whole bunch of snark laden ways that this situation is different, but I’m trying hard to keep this a PG blog, so I’ll just say it flat-out:
Gregory got away with breaking the law, as stupid as that law may be, because of who he is, the people he knows, and the politics he practices. Just for the sake of the argument, let’s say that a conservative from Fox or Breitbart had waved around a 30 round magazine on national TV. Do you think they wouldn’t at least be arrested and given a public shaming and hand slapping for it? Heaven forbid that one of us, exercising the First Amendment rights that the OAG cites in its letter, holds up a USGI AR-15 magazine in front of a camera beside the Reflecting Pool to protest the gun control laws of Washington D.C. We’d be clapped in irons, hustled to a government building, interrogated, and put before a judge faster than I can load my guns in the truck for a trip to the range.
Selective prosecution of draconian laws is one of the ways I define tyranny. Shame on the District of Columbia. Our system utterly fails when the law is only enforced against people who are not doing the bidding of the government or don’t have the right connections. The thin line that separates us from every two-bit third world dictatorship is the rule of law, and things like this thin and blur that line a little more every time they occur.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some AR-15 magazines that need loading.
*When you use a prop during an interview, it becomes a debate or an harangue, depending on your manners. Edward R. Murrow, who wasn’t exactly a conservative and would probably agree with a lot of what Mr. Gregory believes, never had to wave objects around to make his point. Apparently David Gregory is no Edward R. Murrow.