Well this is certainly one journalistic stunt that backfired (pun intended) in a spectacular way.
Following several similar stunts, a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times suffering from a serious lack of originality decided to produce a story in which he showed how easy it is for someone to purchase a weapon.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the gun shop.
The reporter, Neil Steinberg, was denied his purchase of a Smith & Wesson M & P 15 Sport II semi-automatic rifle. Why? Because he has a criminal record involving alcohol abuse and domestic battery against his wife.
Via Biz Pac Review:
It took about an hour to fill out the paperwork, some of the time taken up by chit-chat between Sternberg and the clerk. He was supposed to pick up his purchase the next day.
“I was looking forward to shooting my new rifle the next day. I’ve shot guns. It’s fun,” he said, then added guiltily, “I was worried though, about having fun with guns in the current environment of outrage and horror.”
But it didn’t work out for him quite as expected.
“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.”
After a bit more prodding, Steinberg learned the reason.
“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.’”
Indeed, in 2005, Steinberg was charged with one count of domestic battery and one count of interfering with the reporting of domestic battery. His wife tried reporting an alcohol-fueled case of abuse and had the phone blasted out of her hands by Steinberg in the process. A second call to emergency services resulted in his arrest.
In his column, Steinberg seemed annoyed rather than pleased that the system worked in denying a person with a criminal record their gun purchase. Additionally, he downplayed the role of a history of alcohol and domestic abuse in the denial of his gun purchase, running with the headline – STEINBERG: Would-be terrorists can buy guns, but a reporter? No.
It wasn’t the attribute of reporter that did Steinberg in, making his headline incredibly misleading. A journalist from CBS had little issue purchasing an AR 15 because he didn’t have a criminal history.
So an American citizen with presumably no criminal history was able to exercise his 2nd Amendment right? Congrats!
— Rusty Weiss 🇺🇸 (@rustyweiss74) June 16, 2016
Cross-posted at the Political Insider