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NYTimes seems hell-bent on linking Navy Yard shooter to AR-15s

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First the media reported that suspected Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis used an AR-15 rifle.

After the FBI confirmed that this report was indeed false, the New York Times suggested that Alexis had tried to use an AR-15, but Virginia state laws prevented him from purchasing one. As the Washington Times notes, this too is false:

The Times has a story Tuesday on its homepage with the headline “State Law Stopped Gunman From Buying Rifle, Officials Say.”

The first line says: “The gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday test fired an AR-15 assault rifle at a Virginia gun store last week but was stopped from buying one because state law there prohibits the sale of such weapons to out-of-state buyers, according to two senior law enforcement officials.”

Apparently neither the reporter nor his editors took the time to fact check their vague “law enforcement officials” sources.

“Virginia law does not prohibit the sale of assault rifles to out-of-state citizens who have proper identification,” Dan Peterson, a Virginia firearms attorney, told me Tuesday night. The required identification is proof of residency in another state and of U.S. citizenship, which can be items like a passport, birth certificate or voter identification card. [...]

The Times’ mistakes indicate the paper is trying to give the impression only some unexplained “assault weapon” ban in Virginia stopped Alexis from killing more people. The truth is that we have thousands of gun laws on the books, but none of them stopped a homicidal maniac intent on mass murder.

Despite all the stories over the last 48 hours about the AR-15, it was never used by anyone but law enforcement at the shooting on Monday. The New York Times should issue a correction immediately.

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