B. Todd Jones, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Cathy Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., are being challenged on selective enforcement of the District’s ban on so-called “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” for semi-automatic firearms. This column will serve as a follow-up to an earlier request asking who authorized violation of the ban, after NBC’s David Gregory produced a magazine during his Dec. 23 “Meet the Press” interview with National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre.
That request was documented by Gun Rights Examiner and sent to the respective agencies via email. Because the responses to very specific questions created more questions than answers, this column will now be used to transmit an open letter to the two law enforcement executives:
Dear Director Jones and Chief Lanier,
A crime has been committed, your agencies are involved, and someone is lying. Those are serious charges, but fortunately, they’re demonstrable. And until it’s cleared up, the actions and reputations of your respective agencies will continue meriting public scrutiny.
As you know, NBC’s David Gregory displayed an ammunition magazine that is banned under D.C. Official Code 7-2506.01, and that a conviction on this charge can result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or up to one year imprisonment.
That’s pretty serious.
You also must know that media pundits as diverse as Howard Kurtz and Greta Van Susteren have scolded you for spending any time investigating this, calling any such effort a waste of time because Gregory didn’t intend to commit any crime, and was merely scoring a journalistic point, even if it was ill-advised.
I actually agree with both of them, that to prosecute this would be a shameful waste of resources, and yes, as Greta says,“silly,” but then, I’d say the same thing if you were to prosecute any peaceable citizen on such an offensive and presumptuous charge, and there’s the rub. Being a strict liability offense, Gregory’s motives and intent are not the issue, although there is evidence pointing to NBC willfully violating the law, and that comes directly from Chief Lanier’s Office of Communications Director Gwendolyn Crump, who told me by email:
NBC contacted MPD inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment. NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazine is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.
What there is to “investigate” is beyond me. Gregory either did, or did not break the law.
Possibly what they’re investigating is a report by TMZ that someone at ATF gave NBC the green light after checking with someone else at MPD. This is why I also wrote to ATF, Mr. Jones, asking if the TMZ report was true, and if so, who at ATF had done this, and who at MPD he had consulted with — because as it stands now, the stories we’ve gotten between TMZ and MPD are incompatible. Someone is not telling the truth and is covering up, and until this can be cleared up by ATF, people will rightfully view this as management-directed stonewalling.
That’s why the response I got from your organization, Mr. Jones, was wholly unsatisfactory, to wit, a response from JSOC@ATF.gov (Joint Support and Operations Center):
Please contact ATF’s Public Affairs Branch at (202) 648-8500.
You don’t instruct your staff to sign their emails on public inquiries, Mr. Jones, so people know who they’re talking to, and what their title is? Does that meet professional standards you have set for official communications?
I won’t be making that call. You know (and I know you do) this isn’t my first go-‘round trying to extract information from you folks, so rather than talk to your spinmeisters on the phone, I’d prefer to keep things in writing and documented, if you don’t mind, or even if you do.
I guess I could do another FOIA to try and get answers to questions I thought were entirely reasonable — and answers you would want to provide if it turns out TMZ was blowing hot air (they were, weren’t they?), but those things take months and while I still may file one, I’d also like to do something now to expedite things along.
So here’s the deal for Chief Lanier: I know being #justablogger, I’m hardly as important as “Authorized Journalists” David Gregory, Howard Kurtz and Greta Van Susteren (although I’ll bet money I’ve done more original investigative reporting on Fast and Furious “gunwalking” than all of them combined, and as far as NBC is concerned, I’ll throw in their whole useless network), but if you’re not going to arrest Gregory, I’m hoping the same exemption, the same sentiment that an official response would be a silly waste of resources, would apply to me, too.
How about it? Even though Gregory is evidently against the right to keep and bear arms and I’m for it, do my political and journalistic purposes deserve equal protection with his? He made his point, and apparently has been allowed to do so with impunity. If I try to make mine, will I be arrested, thrown in the slammer with truly dangerous criminals, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for willfully violating the same statute you have, to date, let one of the media elites who favors policies you support skate on?
I need to know, because an answer in the affirmative may actually be an incentive to shine a light on unequal official treatment based on ideology. True, I wouldn’t expect NBC to cover it, but there’s always YouTube.
I’m also curious as to what resources you’re willing to throw at this — the thought strikes that there’s a large social media presence out there among activists, a growing resentment against edicts to disarm us, and no small amount of hard feelings against connected hypocrites getting special breaks. I’m just throwing this out here, but you have to admit, if you’re giving out passes (or even if you’re not), “Million Magazine March” has kind of a nice ring to it … and in front of the NBC studio on a Sunday morning would be perfect.
Get back to me?
If you’re a regular Gun Rights Examiner reader and believe it provides news and perspectives you won’t find in the mainstream media, please subscribe to this column and help spread the word by sharing links, promoting it on social media like Facebook (Dan) and Twitter (@dcodrea), and telling your like-minded friends about it. And for more commentary, be sure to visit “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.”