In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Chicago Sun Times reporter Neil Steinberg set out to buy an “assault rifle,” presumably to prove how easy it is. But the process didn't exactly go as planned.
In his column titled "Would-be Terrorists Can Buy Guns, But a Reporter? No," he points out how a journalist in Philadelphia was able to buy an "assault rifle” in less than 10 minutes. He also noted the percentage of gun transactions in America that don’t go through a background check, and so on. But not at the gun shop he visited. After filling out the required paperwork asking if he was an illegal alien, a fugitive, or whether he had been convicted on charges of domestic abuse, the reporter handed over $842.50 for a Smith & Wesson M & P 15 Sport II. He'd just made his first gun purchase. Since Illinois has a 24-hour waiting period after buying a firearm and taking possession of it, however, Steinberg had to wait.
Unfortunately for him, the gun store later called to say they were canceling the sale, but initially did not say why, as is their right.
Steinberg insisted it was because he’s a reporter. “[H]ating the media is right behind hating the government as a pastime for many gun owners,” he writes. “They damn you for being ignorant then hide when you try to find out.”
Later, the gun store sent Steinberg’s newspaper a statement, which read in part: “it was uncovered that Mr. Steinberg has an admitted history of alcohol abuse, and a charge for domestic battery involving his wife.”
A blog run by military combat veterans explains why the store did this:
Steinberg did fill out an ATF 4473. he didn’t lie on the form which asks the respondent if they have ever been *convicted* in a court of a domestic violence misdemeanor and, apparently, Steinberg wasn’t convicted (even though you or I would have been convicted). He made a big deal about his arrest and his “come to Jesus” moment in the paper and in his book “Drunkard”. Because he doesn’t have a conviction, he also has a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card.
Steinberg didn’t pop hot on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check because he doesn’t have a conviction, and he didn’t lie on his ATF 4473.
Everyone in Chicago knows about his escapades as a drunk and a wife beater because he wrote about it, the staff at Maxon knew about his past and they denied his purchase based on Steinberg’s own admissions in his writings about it. The firearms dealer has the final say in whether you get a gun or not and because of Steinberg’s local reputation, they decided not to take a chance on him.
“Mr. Steinberg was very aggressive on the phone with Sarah, insisting he was going to write that we denied him because he is a journalist. “Journalist” is not a protected class, BTW,” the store later wrote on its Facebook page. “We contacted his editor and said that, while we don’t normally provide a reason for a denial, in this case to correct the record before you publish, here’s why; we pasted a couple links of press accounts of his past behavior and his admission of same. He’s free to believe or disbelieve that’s why he was denied, but that *is* why he was denied. There was no “We’ll see you in court!!!!” type of language from us – we simply want to set the record straight. That it undermined his thesis and rendered the column incoherent isn’t really our problem, is it? Thanks for your support.”