It’s an anti-gun stunt that has been repeated countless times by reporters and journalists: buy a gun and then write about how quickly you were able to walk out of the door with it.
But for Chicago Sun-Times writer Neil Steinberg, things didn’t go according to plan.
Steinberg recently traveled to Maxon Shooter’s Supplies in Des Plaines, Illinois, with intentions of purchasing a Smith & Wesson M & P 15 Sport II semi-automatic rifle.
Steinberg recalled how the transaction progressed:
When it came time to make the purchase, Rob, the clerk with the tattoos, handed me over to Mike, who gave his name shaking my hand, I gave mine. “The writer?” he said. If I wanted to lie as part of my job, I’d have gone into public relations. “Yes,” I said, explaining that I plan to buy the gun, shoot at their range, then give it to the police. He suggested I sell it back to them instead and I heartily agreed. Economical. If they would let me photograph myself with it there, the gun need never leave the store.
A reporter in Philadelphia bought an assault rifle in seven minutes; 40 percent of gun transactions in the U.S. have no background checks. Here, I had paperwork. A federal form asking, was I an illegal alien? No. Was I a fugitive? Again no. Had I ever been convicted on charges of domestic abuse? No. Handed over my credit card: $842.50. Another $40 for the instructor to acquaint me with the gun the next day.
Steinberg never got the chance to fire that rifle, though.
He said an employee from the gun shop called at around 5:13 p.m. informing him that his sale was being canceled and money refunded. The reporter was initially not given a reason for the declined sale.
However, Maxon Shooter’s Supplies revealed the reasons behind the decision in a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times a few hours later.
“[It] was uncovered that Mr. Steinberg has an admitted history of alcohol abuse, and a charge for domestic battery involving his wife,” the statement reportedly said.
“Well, didn’t see that coming,” Steinberg wrote. “Were that same standard applied to the American public, there would be a whole lot fewer guns sold. Beside, they knew I planned to immediately sell it back to them.”
The reporter, of course, offered his own theory on why he wasn’t sold the gun:
Now I’ll state what I believe the real reason is: 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.
This line of thinking resulted in the following headline to accompany his piece: “Would-be terrorists can buy guns, but a reporter? No.”
Read the entire story here.