The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page editor is an occasional panelist on NBC's "Meet the Press," has an editorial asserting that a possible indictment of "Meet the Press" anchor David Gregory for violating D.C. gun laws by displaying an illegal gun-magazine (hardware, not glossy paper) on his show would be "nonsensical."
I've got high regard for the Journal and its editor, but it seems to me that, to the contrary, such a prosecution would make some sense.
For one thing, it might put Mr. Gregory, or his network, in the position of arguing in their own defense that the DC law under which they might be prosecuted is unconstitutional. Or Mr. Gregory and his network could argue that the risks with these weapons parts relate to their use, not merely their possession. Either line of defense would be a pretty ironical turnabout for Mr. Gregory, who had in his interview been pursuing a line of questioning that suggested some sympathy for stricter gun laws. Sometimes such journalistic questions are merely devil's advocacy or designed to elicit information, but sometimes they are not.
For a second thing, Reuters reports that NBC "had contacted the police department prior to Sunday's broadcast 'inquiring if they could use a high capacity magazine for the segment,' police spokesman Araz Alali said on Wednesday. 'NBC was informed that possession of a high-capacity magazine was not permissible and their request was denied.'" It seems to me that if someone — even a celebrity journalist — asks the police for permission to do something, and the police say no, and then the person goes ahead and does it anyway, then it makes some sense for the police to go after the person. Otherwise people might get the idea that they can ignore the police, or that the law applies differently to celebrity journalists than it does to the rest of the population. This is assuming the police had solid legal ground to deny the request in the first place. The fact that NBC inquired with the police in the first place suggests that the network knew it might be breaking the law if it went ahead.