We’ve seen the Daily News (and dozens of other media outlets) focus on the gun that was never used, the dreaded “AR-15”; we’ve seen CNN invent a new weapon, the “AR-15 shotgun”, and here’s the NYT, falsely claiming that Virginia’s strict gun laws actually prevented the shooter from buying one: (you may remember that the mainstream press, since the time when Bloggers exposed Dan Rather’s lies about George Bush’s military service, has distinguished itself from bloggers by touting the “many, many layers of fact-checking and verification procedures” they employ. That claim is no longer – never was – operative):
NYT: “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.
John Frazer, also a firearms attorney in the Commonwealth, told me that, “State law in Virginia — like most states — allows purchase of rifles or shotguns by residents of other states. Virginia simply requires some additional forms of identification.”
Federal law is clear on this residency issue. A quick glance at the ATF website would have informed the New York Times journalists that a person may buy a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a federal firearms licensee’s premises in any state, provided the sale complies with state laws, which it would in this case.
So is the NYT merely guilty of gross incompetence and laziness, driven by its anti-gun agenda, or is it deliberately fabricating news stories in order to feed its readers’ delusions? To quote one of that paper’s favorite politicians, “what difference does it make?”