WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The District of Columbia has declined to prosecute NBC News anchor David Gregory for displaying an illegal high-capacity gun clip on a broadcast, a prosecutor said on Friday.
District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan said his office would not seek to charge Gregory for showing the 30-round magazine on the December 23 broadcast of "Meet the Press" in part because it was an element of the renewed debate about firearms.
His office "has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012, broadcast," Nathan said in a letter to NBC's lawyers.
He called the decision "very close."
Gregory held up the magazine while hosting an interview with National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre at NBC's studios in the District. Law in the U.S. capital bars possession of high-capacity magazines whether or not they are attached to a weapon or loaded.
The "Meet the Press" show on firearms was part of a galvanized public debate on guns after the December 14 massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.
Nathan said the clip was returned to its owner outside the District after the show. It then was turned over to District police with NBC's help.
He added that Gregory had displayed the magazine even though city police had told NBC that possession was illegal.
"We note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect," Nathan said.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Eric Walsh)