News & Politics

Anti-Gun Documentary Producer Defends Her 'Legal' Gun Purchases

Katie Couric attends the LA premiere of "Under The Gun" at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Beverly Hills.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Earlier this week, the producer of the anti-gun documentary Under the Gun, Stephanie Soechtig, released a statement on Facebook explaining how the purchase of four firearms by her out-of-state production crew was in fact legal.

It is very clear from this fiasco that the anti-gun movement is not familiar with existing gun laws.

They do not know what the federal rules are, and they do not know the details of the gun laws in each particular state. However, they tell gun owners and policy experts that we need to create even more laws:

A message from ‪#‎UnderTheGun‬ Director Stephanie Soechtig on the claims that an illegal gun purchase occurred while making the film:

“While it may seem hard to believe that one could buy these types of guns this easily, all purchases in the film were made completely legally. Arizona law allows out-of-state residents to buy long guns (i.e. rifles, shotguns, military style assault rifles) from a private seller without a background check. It also allows Arizona residents to buy handguns from a private seller without a background check.

“We demonstrated both versions of this dangerous loophole in the film on a hidden camera, in full compliance with both state and federal laws. The rifles — including a Smith and Wesson M&P 15, the gun used in the Aurora massacre — were purchased by an out of state resident. The handgun was purchased by an Arizona resident.

“These guns were then turned over to law enforcement and destroyed. They never left the state of Arizona.”

Nothing in this statement from Soechtig clears her crew. Most alarming is Soechtig’s complete ignorance of federal law, which clearly states interstate gun transfers, like her Arizona AR15 cache, must involve an FFL.

Federal law determines interstate firearms transactions, not individual states. Her explanation focusing on Arizona law is absurd on its face. And hopefully all her associates have retained a lawyer.

The next issue of note in Soechtig’s statement is that she gives a new story about how many guns and what kind of guns were purchased. Initially, Soechtig said her crew purchased a Bushmaster AR15 in the parking lot of a Wendy’s. Now, we learn that a Smith & Wesson AR15 was purchased. Were two different rifles purchased? Did Soechtig think a “Bushmaster” was actually a style of gun?

Soechtig also says “a handgun” was purchased. Previously, she said that three pistols had been purchased.


Next — why did they try to purchase guns in Arizona? The state has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. We know one of the producers flew from Colorado to Arizona to purchase the guns. Why not document a gun purchase in Colorado? Hell, why not try to buy the guns in California?

Her “greater” point is that an Arizona resident purchased a pistol in a private transaction. Yes, this is legal in Arizona. Some states allow private sales among residents, and this is not a dangerous loophole.

If her Colorado dupe took his Bushmaster Smith&Wesson AR15 to Colorado, he would have some problems if it had a high-capacity magazine. Those are illegal in Colorado and the purchaser would be breaking the law.

However, the Aurora shooter (whom Soechtig makes a point to name-check) bought all his weapons, including the AR15, legally and with background checks. Background checks don’t stop people who haven’t committed a crime yet.

Despite what Soechtig claims, I cannot find an Arizona law that says private sales of long guns can be sold to a resident of another state without going through an FFL. Maybe a reader (or a lawyer or a federal agent) can find that information for me. However, I do know one state cannot regulate what is allowed in another state — this is federal territory — so I am skeptical there is a law in Arizona that dictates what is allowed in Colorado.

There are many regulations and laws for firearms use and purchase in this country. I do not agree with all of them, but I abide by the law and you should, too — that is our responsibility as firearms owners. The anti-gun posse behind Under the Gun should be investigated by the ATF and prosecuted like any other “average” American would be if they broke the law.