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CBS News: What Exactly Was The Point Of That AR-15 Segment? UPDATE: Illegal Straw Purchase?

CBS News has a breaking news bulletin: it’s totally legal for law-abiding citizens to buy rifles. Yep, something that’s already legal needs to be re-reported to us as we eat our breakfast because the media apparently is shocked (again) that we can buy an AR-15 rifle, which wasn’t even used in the Orlando attack. A CBS News producer had all the proper documents (driver’s license, voter registration cards, and a passport), filled out the 4473 form for the ATF, along with documentation for the Virginia State Police (yeah, you undergo two background checks in Virginia) and was able to leave a gun store with an AR-15 rifle, and 100 rounds of ammunition (which isn’t a lot), in less than 40 minutes. Great Scott! A law-abiding citizen was able to buy a gun—which isn’t even the most powerful on the market.


Adam Winkler, a UCLA constitutional law professor, said “throughout most of America, you can go into a gun store and buy an AR-15, just like you would go into a Starbucks and buy a cup of coffee.”

Well, yeah—blessedly the misguided and wholly ineffective assault weapons ban lapsed in 2004 and we can buy these firearms. Also, do you need to undergo a background check in order to complete your grande Redeye purchase? No. No, you don’t. That’s absurd.

In Virginia, the sale of a firearm that comes with a high-capacity magazine requires three forms of identification for the transfer can be approved. Hence, why this producer had to have her driver’s license and voter ID card, and passport. Her voter ID card counts as two forms, so the passport was unnecessary. Nevertheless, this proves that this isn’t like buying a cup of coffee, and that there is a rather a thorough process concerning buying long guns. Two background checks and multiple forms of ID, with the added notion that someone with a criminal history or who was mentally adjudicated, as specified on these forms, would be denied a purchase. The Orlando killer had no criminal background or history of mental illness. He would’ve passed a background check regardless, though the media glosses over this point.


If CBS News had a mentally adjudicated person, or a criminal, trying to buy an AR-15 and the purchase went through—that would be a cause for concern since it proves that the FBI has dropped the ball concerning keeping the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) updated. This is how Dylann Roof was able to buy a handgun, despite him pleading guilty to a past narcotics charge. If that clerical error weren’t made, the purchase would’ve been denied. But they won’t do because it’s against the law—and I’m sure no convicted felon wants to risk going back to jail for the sake for a news segment. Law-abiding people can buy guns, CBS News. It’s not news, and neither is the notion that AR-15 rifles are available for civilian use—and owned by responsible, law-abiding individuals. What was the point of this segment? If it was to prove that Virginia has a multi-tiered process to buying a long gun, you succeeded.

For more on gun control and the media, I suggest you read Rachel Larimore, Slate’s lonely Republican, who discusses the media’s role in pushing gun control by using very shoddy data—along with, at times, outright disregard for facts concerning firearms.


UPDATE: Something I forgot to mention, the rifle that CBS News bought was transferred to a third party, which might be illegal.

“As for the rifle we legally purchased, it was transferred to a federally licensed firearm dealer and weapons instructor in Virginia following state law within hours of us purchasing the weapon, said CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave concluding the segment.

Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon wrote that the ATF is aware of the story:

Ms. Paula Reid [the CBS News producer] came into the shop with cash, claiming she wished to purchase an AR-15 to, ‘undergo training,’” Ryan Lamke, SpecDive’s general manager, told the Washington Free Beacon. “She refused basic, free instruction of firearms safety under the pretense that she was using the firearm for training with a NRA certified instructor.”


SpecDive owner Jerry Rapp said that Reid misleading the store about her intention to give the gun over to a third party was a clear violation of the law.

“The law is very clear. When you knowingly attempt to purchase a firearm with the intent of giving it to another person, you are trying to bypass the legal pathway to firearms ownership,” he said. “This, in itself, is a very serious crime. I do not see how any member of the press can get away with potentially committing a felony just to boost their ratings and mislead the general public.”

The ATF acknowledged the questions surrounding the CBS News report but did not say whether or not it was currently investigating it.


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