David Gregory broke the law when he held the illegal gun clip on "Meet the Press," the D.C. attorney general says but it's not worth prosecution
David Gregory won't face prosecution for airing an illegal gun magazine on "Meet the Press," the District of Columbia's attorney general said in an open letter Friday.
The NBC News host was criticized after he held up a 30-round gun clip on his show Dec. 23 during an interview with National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition are illegal in Washington.
But Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said prosecuting Gregory, who has no prior criminal record, would not be in the public interest.
"[The Office of the Attorney General] has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust," Levin wrote in the letter obtained by TheWrap.
Moreover, he said "temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment."
Lee Levine, the First Amendment attorney representing NBC, did not immediate respond to calls from TheWrap requesting comment.
The Metropolitan Police Department said NBC sought permission to use the gun clip on air, but the request was denied.
“NBC contacted MPD inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment," the police said in emails posted online last month. "NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazines is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.”
Conservative media outlets and gun rights advocates pounced on Gregory after the broadcast. A White House petition calling for the "Meet the Press" host's arrest had more than 18,000 signatures by Friday afternoon.
"David Gregory is not above the law," the petition read, "he is a journalist, and must be held accountable to the same law as every other person."