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Ed Driscoll

The Howard Kurtz Recursion

December 26th, 2012 - 12:30 pm

Iowahawk neatly sums up media “watchdog” Howard Kurtz’s response to the “unexpected” fervor of Second Amendment supporters to see NBC’s David Gregory punished for breaking one of DC’s draconian — and deliberately labyrinthian — gun laws.

Or as Ace paraphrases Kurtz’s article, “Why, It’s Incredible That David Gregory Could Be Investigated For Breaking the Law When He Had No Criminal Intent!”

Millions of gun owners, who use their guns for perfectly law-abiding and peaceable purposes and yet live under similar threat of arrest for noncompliance with this or that obscure law, certainly can understand Kurtz’s sentiment.

Except they’re probably wondering why David Gregory has the Status to avoid prosecution for breaking the law, whereas they themselves do not.

Was the moderator of Meet the Press caught on tape, armed and dangerous, liberating a few Slurpees from a 7-Eleven? No, he waved a high-capacity ammunition clip on the air while interviewing Wayne LaPierre, asking it shouldn’t be banned.Was it a stunt? Yep, and an eye-catching one. Was Gregory being aggressive with the NRA chief, or seeming to push gun control in a confrontational interview? All that is up for debate.

But a police probe over what I assume was an empty ammo clip is a total waste of time. What it demonstrates above all is that journalists are getting ensnared in the political war over gun control.

This is stupidity on a truly breathtaking level. Bans of things like high-capacity magazines do not simply ban the thing when used in the commission of a crime. There are also such laws, which the NRA and most everyone supports, by the way, but the instant argument is entirely about whether or not certain things should be banned even when used in a perfectly lawful manner. An outright ban, a strict-liability ban (that is, it doesn’t matter how you use it or what your intent is), a per se ban.

Kurtz writes, “But a police probe over what I assume was an empty ammo clip is a total waste of time.” But wasting the legal citizen’s time is precisely the goal of California’s ever-strangling gun regulations, as Steven Greenhut wrote in the Orange County Register last week:

It took only days before California’s legislators reacted to the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy with a fusillade of bills designed to take California closer to Democratic leaders’ unstated but obvious goal: making it essentially illegal for Californians to own firearms. I write “essentially” because the strategy isn’t to ban guns outright, but to mire ownership in so many layers of regulation that owning a gun becomes even more frustrating and costly than operating a business in this state. Legislators aren’t stupid. Direct assaults on gun ownership generate pushback, but killing this constitutional right through a thousand cuts is less confrontational.

* * * * * * *

Now, [Los Angeles Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon] is targeting ammunition. “We don’t think about the fuel that feeds the violence, and that’s ammunition. If you want to fish, you have to secure a license to fish. If you want to cut down a Christmas tree in California – this is legally factual – you have to secure a permit at a cost of $10. Yet anyone who walks into any gun store in California can buy all the ammunition they want.”

That statement is more of an indictment of the kind of society we’ve become – so regulated and taxed that one isn’t allowed to cut down a Christmas tree without getting government permission – than about firearms. But I digress.

Like everyone, I’m still shaken by the Newtown school shooting. I’m all ears when it comes to finding real solutions to violence, but am tired of cheap, predictable attempts to turn tragedy into another assault on our liberties and wallets.

After this week’s legislative frenzy, I headed to one of the largest Sacramento-area gun dealers to purchase that 12-guage shotgun I’ve been considering – only to find the shelves virtually bare. The Daily Beast reports on a similar situation throughout the country.

Americans realize that an assault on private gun ownership is coming, and it’s best to buy a weapon now, while they still are available at a store, rather than only on the black market.

Perhaps de Leon and others might ask their constituents why they would want a gun. This morning, my wife handed me the local newspaper with a story about three men arrested for murdering one of my neighbors in October during a robbery. Is it unreasonable to want the wherewithal to defend one’s family? The cocking of a shotgun – an internationally understood signal that “you’re not welcome here” – would be all it takes to dissuade most intruders.

Gun control advocates are utopians. Their perspective is that, if guns are no longer readily available, that violence will evaporate. But there are so many guns in circulation that it would take decades to reduce their availability – unless legislators adopt the police-state policy of sending cops door-to-door to confiscate firearms. Even then, there would be black markets and other methods for evil folks to commit mayhem.

It’s better to let people arm themselves. An operator of a private school told me that California’s 1995 Gun-Free School Zone Act – banning guns within 1,000 feet of schools – is making it difficult to hire an armed security guard.

Oh, and speaking of well-protected kids in private schools, “Gregory Mocks LaPierre for Proposing Armed Guards, but Sends Kids to High-Security School,” Daniel Halper notes in the Weekly Standard: 

The NBC host would go on the rest of the segment to suggest that armed guards might not be effective in preventing mass murders at school. Which is perhaps an interesting theoretical argument.

But when it comes to Gregory’s own kids, however, they are secured every school day by armed guards.

The Gregory children go to school with the children of President Barack Obama, according to the Washington Post. That school is the co-ed Quaker school Sidwell Friends.

According to a scan of the school’s online faculty-staff directory, Sidwell has a security department made up of at least 11 people. Many of those are police officers, who are presumably armed.

Moreover, with the Obama kids in attendance, there is a secret service presence at the institution, as well.

It’s safe to say the school where Gregory sends his kids is a high-security school. It’s just odd he’d want it for his kids, but wouldn’t be more open to it for others.

Perhaps Howard Kurtz will take up that topic in his next column. In the meantime, as a commenter at Prof. William Jacobson’s Legal Insurrection blog quips, “To paraphrase Joyce Carol Oates: If sizable numbers of journalists become gun law victims themselves, maybe there’s hope for some balanced coverage on the issue.”

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I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to arrive anytime soon, though, despite Especially at NBC, which began the year by deliberately falsifying a quote to smear George Zimmerman, and ended it with Gregory deciding the DC’s laws don’t apply to him. As Jacobson wrote on Monday, imagine if the roles were reversed, and it was Wayne LaPierre who had walked onto the set of Meet the Press carrying an ammunition clip that was illegal in DC as a prop for his side of the argument. The left — including Howard Kurtz — would certainly be loudly calling for an investigation and/or LaPierre’s prosecution right now. (Or far worse if they’re especially “thoughtful” “liberals” such as author Joyce Carol Oates and former CSI actress Marg Helgenberger.)

Even though a police probe over an empty ammo clip is a total waste of time. And harsh reaction to it would demonstrate that journalists and bloggers are getting ensnared in the political war over gun control.

(h/t Hot Air.)

Update: The David Gregory Recursion: “If David Gregory were not David Gregory, He’d already be in jail.”

Oh, and just a reminder — Gregory isn’t the only NBC contributor or employee in 2012 who thinks they’re above the law, particularly when there’s a liberal hobbyhorse to be ridden hard. “Um, sorry to disappoint you, teabaggers,” Jim Treacher adds, but I’m pretty sure righteous indignation trumps the law. Or at least when it’s righteous indignation in service of liberal agenda items. We need to pass more gun laws because people obey laws. Well, people who aren’t on TV, at least.”

And speaking of people on TV, it was once the esteemed National Broadcasting Corporation, and home for such revered figures as Bob Hope, Toscanini and Dave Garroway. Stacy McCain writes that the initials of NBC now stand for something very different.

Related: The Glenn Thrush/Politico recursion.

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