Mr. Erik Wemple, media writer for the Washington Post, contacted me with a few questions about the David Gregory Magazinegate story.
1) It appears that you are the one who first raised the question of the legality of the magazine that David Gregory brandished on Sunday. Is that your understanding as well?
The Patriot Perspective was the first blog to report it that I know of, yes.
The first place I remember seeing the question raised was on the AR15.com website here, by at first one, then by numerous forum members. It’s a very large community, with many folks who live throughout the country, dealing with the patchwork of gun laws that alternatingly work and fail across the country. David Gregory waving around the magazine was brought up slightly earlier in a thread about the David Gregory/Wayne LaPierre interview by other forum members, and there may have been other folks whose ears perked up at that, realizing there was a violation of law.
I read the posts, then I looked up the statute on my own to confirm the exact wording of it. I found the statute on Handgunlaw.us, then looked up the statute again on Westlaw through links provided by the DC government. Then I wrote this post (the first place I know of to report it) and I emailed a few other blogs and sites who I thought would be interested in the story. Sipsey Street Irregulars, one of the blogs who broke the Obama administration ATF’s give-guns-to-the-Mexican-narcoterrorist-cartels scandal Fast and Furious, picked it up. The next site I saw to pick it up was The Drudge Report, where Matt Drudge is already famous for his incredible nose for news and linked directly. Professor William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection then went on to double-check DC laws at Westlaw and the story kept on moving. I’m pretty sure Katie Pavlich was tweeting the post just before it hit Drudge, but I don’t know the timeline on that.
After the story picked up in days that followed, I have seen that there are a couple other places where the question developed independently (mostly gun forums), between the time I posted it originally on The Patriot Perspective and when Drudge picked it up and it hit the wider internet and media. There may be one that posted right after Meet The Press aired, but I haven’t seen it.
Most folks who deal with firearms, be they sport shooters, 3-gun shooters, hunters, self-defense advocates, hobbyists, industry members or just general Bill of Rights fans are aware of the shipping warnings that accompany advertisements and catalogs of almost every seller of firearms or accessories throughout the US. Most catalogs, websites, and advertisements will note that there are limited sales or no sales to California, Chicago, and most of the northeast to include Washington D.C., based on various regulations about components – especially magazines and magazine size. There are probably other people who saw it and asked themselves the same question about legality. Really, it was only a matter of how much time it took for those aware of the laws to get the info out.
2) Who are you?
I’m a veteran Marine and a fan of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I blog under the screen name ShortTimer.
3) Describe, if you could, Patriot Perspective’s approach to gun rights/Second Amendment.
That’s asking for a whole philosophy. Oleg Volk’s website A Human Right pretty well covers it.
4) Some people are wondering why gun-rights folks are making a big deal over the Gregory thing, given the premise that gun-rights folks by and large want fewer firearms restrictions. What’s your take on that?
It’s an illustration of hypocrisy on many levels by David Gregory’s actions. David Gregory is vehemently anti-rights, but he went so far as to knowingly and willfully break the very type of laws that he demands more of. He states that more laws are needed, yet he by his own actions proves that those sufficiently motivated by bad intentions, whether criminals or madmen – can know the consequences and will still break any laws. Thus it proves the futility of such laws.
If we live in a nation of laws, Gregory will be prosecuted (and possibly his staff will be wrapped up in a conspiracy charge), and the unjust laws that he wants expanded will send him to prison. There has already been at least one pro-gun lawyer offering to defend Gregory, as the law is a violation of his Second Amendment rights, even though Gregory wants those rights taken away (though seemingly from everyone but privileged people like himself). It will be his chance to agree that the laws he demands are unjust and absurd, or to be held to account by his own rules. It will highlight the need to enforce existing gun laws rather than pass new ones, as well as the frivolous nature of most gun laws.
If we live in a nation of men and not laws, where some animals are more equal than others, then Gregory will be given favorable treatment and let go with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. It will highlight the hypocrisy further, as evidenced by the David Gregory memes already circulating the internet, with pictures of him holding the magazine and captions like “If I were a black teenager, I’d already be in jail”.
It contrasts sharply with the story of 1st Lt. Augustine Kim, a two-tour veteran who was imprisoned by DC for actual innocent, unknowing violations. Ultimately when Alan Gura takes Heller v DC II up to the Supreme Court, it will be a shining example of government hypocrisy if the law is enforced against poor, little people like Dick Heller but not against the rich, powerful like David Gregory.
5) Are you steeped in gun regulations? What prompted you to wonder about the legality of the magazine Gregory waved around on Sunday?
With the monstrous amount of gun law that exists, I can say I know a little bit, and have learned to navigate some firearms legalese. There are some aspects I’m familiar with, and others require research. If you deal with firearms at all, you begin to learn that there are a huge number of regulations surrounding them, and it becomes your responsibility to know them. As I noted above, if you ever buy anything firearms-related, you run into laws almost immediately. Some warnings apply to different parts of the country, some to specific states or regions. When I saw the question first prompted by the internet post, I’d read many times before about DC’s draconian laws, then went to confirm them. It was easy to see that it was a violation. David Gregory taped his own confession in high definition in front of a subject matter expert and broadcast it to millions.
6) What lessons, if any, should people be drawing from this story?
Gun laws never stop a determined criminal. They certainly never deter a madman. David Gregory’s zealotry in wanting to assault citizens’ rights put him in a position where he wanted to break the law no matter what, and he did. A successful man of his stature in national media should have had no rational interest in breaking gun laws and getting himself investigated and (by law should be) arrested on a clear cut-and-dried violation of the law, but he did so anyway.
Gregory may think he’s above the law. If so, that speaks to the arrogance of a man whose children are surrounded by armed guards while he wishes to dictate that the little people should live defenseless, and uses his voice to render our children helpless. It shows that there are two sets of laws – one set of laws for the Country Class and one for the Ruling Class. Or else he didn’t even think of the law and was simply so driven by hatred of citizens’ rights that he did it anyway – in which case he proves the madman argument, though to a thankfully nonviolent end. It shows that no laws deter a madman.
There’s been kind of a leftist backlash against the rule of law in this story, with a call for “reasonable, common sense enforcement”, which right now means “don’t enforce the law and leave David Gregory alone”, but amidst the din of hypocrisy there, there’s the occasional voice that says “he wasn’t going to hurt anyone with it”. That’s an interesting point to be made from the gun-ban side, because millions upon millions of gun owners every day hurt no one – and is one of the points made by those who are pro-rights. A very miniscule amount of people abuse the rights they have as Americans and we have the legal system to punish them for it. Collective punishment for no crime pushed onto millions of individuals by the state because of a reaction to the actions of a madman or a handful of criminals is not why We The People established the government that we have. Many people are starting to see this.
But as the saying goes, it’s not even really about the guns, it’s about the control.