News & Politics

Reporter Denied 'Assault Rifle' Purchase

Following the Orlando massacre, several media outlets sent their reporters to purchase or experience an “assault rifle” so they could “educate” the public about guns.  All the after-action gun-buying reports focused on how easy it is to purchase an “assault rifle.”

“I’ve filled out more paperwork at the doctor’s office for a routine checkup than I did Monday afternoon,” said Helen Ubinas in her think piece about purchasing an AR15 in 7 minutes. The thought leaders over at Huffington Post shared their experience buying a “perfect killing machine” in just 38 minutes.

“We would have been locked and loaded within five minutes, but the gun shop employee we spoke to said the queue on background checks was longer than usual because people were scrambling to buy AR-15s in the wake of the shooting,” wrote the HuffPo authors.

But not every anti-gun Samaritan had it so easy.  Neil Steinberg at the Chicago Sun-Times learned that not every one who wants to buy a gun can do so.

Steinberg went to Maxon Shooters Supplies in Des Plaines to buy his “first assault rifle.” After filling out paper work for the background check and paying for the firearm, he received some bad news.

At 5:13 Sarah from Maxon called. They were canceling my sale and refunding my money. No gun for you. I called back. Why? “I don’t have to tell you,” she said. I knew that, but was curious. I wasn’t rejected by the government? No. So what is it? “I’m not at liberty,” she said.

A few hours later, Maxon sent the newspaper a lengthy statement, the key part being: “it was uncovered that Mr. Steinberg has an admitted history of alcohol abuse, and a charge for domestic battery involving his wife.”

Steinberg offered a different explanation:

Gun manufacturers and the stores that sell them make their money in the dark. Congress, which has so much trouble passing the most basic gun laws, passed a law making it illegal for the federal government to fund research into gun violence. Except for the week or two after massacres, the public covers its eyes. Would-be terrorists can buy guns. Insane people can buy guns. But reporters . . . that’s a different story. Gun makers avoid publicity because the truth is this: they sell tools of death to frightened people and make a fortune doing so. They shun attention because they know, if we saw clearly what is happening in our country, we’d demand change.

Which really isn’t an explanation at all. And instead of recognizing that gun stores do exercise discretion (as one did in refusing to service the Orlando shooter) and refuse to sell firearms to people with histories that suggest they aren’t good candidates for the responsibility of gun ownership, he blames “big gun money” and the fact that he’s a reporter. Someone should ask him if he thinks people with domestic violence charges should be allowed to own firearms.

And he should make sure he knows what an “assault weapon” is.