Reporter Tries Buying ‘Assault Rifle’ to Show How Easy It Is, Fails
A Chicago journalist attempted to buy an “assault rifle” to demonstrate how easy it was for terrorists to obtain dangerous weapons, only to be left grasping for an explanation when the gun store denied him.
Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times decided to head “into the Valley of Death” last week to purchase an AR-15 following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. His purpose, he says, was to demonstrate how simple it was and to explore Illinois’ gun laws concerning assault weapons. As soon as he bought the gun, he planned to sell it back to the store he bought it from.
But Steinberg’s effort was stopped halfway by the gun store, which canceled his purchase during Illinois’ required 24-hour waiting period:
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.
Gun dealers do have the right to refuse sales to anyone, usually exercised for people who seem to be straw purchasers. I told her I assume they wouldn’t sell me a gun because I’m a reporter. She denied it. But hating the media is right behind hating the government as a pastime for many gun owners. They damn you for being ignorant then hide when you try to find out.
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 can barely contain his outrage in his original column, lashing out at the gun store and assuming (without citing any evidence) that it would gladly sell to a terrorist but only stopped him because he was a reporter.
“I’ll state what I believe the real reason is: Gun manufacturers and the stores that sell them make their money in the dark,” he writes. “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.”
But even though Steinberg speculates about the real reason he was denied, he never contests the reason the gun store gave, namely his history of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. And he hardly could, because he has actually written an entire book detailing his years of severe alcoholism and an incident in which he slapped his wife.
Steinberg’s misadventure was first noted by the blog This Ain’t Hell, which speculated that if Steinberg had successfully made the purchase, the piece would instead have focused on how easy it was for a man with a history of alcoholism and domestic violence to purchase an AR-15.
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