WASHINGTON – The host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” displayed what appeared to be a high-capacity ammunition magazine on national television Sunday, embroiling the network in controversy and leaving Washington authorities to decide whether a crime was committed.
The show’s host, David Gregory, held up what he described as a magazine that holds 30 bullets as he questioned National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre about the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn.
D.C. gun laws prohibit possessing a “large capacity ammunition feeding device” — defined as holding more than 10 rounds — regardless of whether it is attached to a firearm and whether there are bullets in it. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Viewers emailed Washington police after watching the segment, asking them to arrest Gregory. In an emailed response to the Patriot Perspective blog, police wrote:
“NBC contacted (Washington police) inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment. NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazines is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.” A police spokeswoman confirmed that the email was authentic.
Gregory appears to have used a large-capacity ammunition magazine anyway. A police official said detectives will try to determine whether it was real, how it was obtained and whether the segment was filmed in Washington. The official said the investigation will entail questioning NBC producers and could conclude this week.
NBC News, through a spokeswoman, declined comment.
The situation presents authorities with an unusual decision: file charges in a crime that is infrequently prosecuted or appear unwilling to enforce Washington’s gun laws. Gun rights advocates were among those who called police to complain.
“The police are in a public relations quandary,” said David Benowitz, a defense lawyer who handles gun cases in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. “The question is going to be to what level of knowledge did David Gregory have that this was potentially an illegal act. … I presume David Gregory didn’t go out on the street and get a 30-round clip himself.”
“Maybe the NRA can fund his defense,” he joked.
Gregory used the prop as he posed a question to LaPierre in a segment that is posted on the MSNBC website.
Dempsey trying to save Seattle coffee house chain, jobs
LOS ANGELES – Patrick Dempsey says he wants to rescue a coffee house chain and more than 500 jobs.
The “Grey’s Anatomy” star said Wednesday he’s leading a group attempting to buy Tully’s Coffee. The Seattle-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.
Dempsey said he’s excited about the chance to help hundreds of workers and give back to Seattle.
The actor has a strong TV tie to the city: He plays Dr. Derek Shepherd on “Grey’s Anatomy,” the ABC drama set at fictional Seattle Grace Hospital.
Tully’s has 47 company-run stores in Washington and California, as well as five franchised stores and 58 licensed locations in the U.S.
Any sale would have to be approved by a judge. A bankruptcy court hearing is set for Jan. 11 in Seattle.