MILLER: Two systems of justice

dgIt’s been more than a week since police in Washington, D.C., opened an investigation into NBC’s David Gregory’s possession of a “high-capacity magazine” that’s prohibited in the District on on national TV. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s spokesman refused Monday to respond to whether Mr. Gregory had even been interviewed yet. This is a rather curious departure for a city that has been ruthless in enforcing this particular firearms statute against law-abiding citizens who made an honest mistake.

In July, The Washington Times highlighted the plight of former Army Spc. Adam Meckler, who was arrested and jailed for having a few long-forgotten rounds of ordinary ammunition — but no gun — in his backpack in Washington. Mr. Meckler, a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, says he had no idea it was illegal to possess unregistered ammunition in the city. He violated the same section of D.C. law as Mr. Gregory allegedly did, and both offenses carry the same maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

Mr. Meckler was charged with the crime and was forced to accept a plea deal to avoid the cost and time of a protracted legal fight. The indefensible nature of Mr. Meckler’s case led directly to a new law passed by the D.C. Council in December that allows prosecutors to file civil instead of criminal charges, but only if the accused was unaware of the city’s laws.

That exemption probably wouldn’t apply to Mr. Gregory, who held up a 30-round rifle magazine on his show on Dec. 23 to make his point about the need to ban them. NBC asked the police in advance for permission to bring the contraband into Washington for the interview with…


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