The Corner


CBS News: ‘Look How Easy It Is to Buy an Assault Rifle’

This morning, CBS News breathlessly reported that one of its producers was able to walk into a Virginia gun shop and legally purchase an AR-15.

Woodward and Bernstein-style investigative journalism this was not.

CBS thinks it amazing that an American citizen could — again, legally — purchase a semi-automatic rifle in the state of Virginia (not a machine gun, bazooka, or fully automatic Uzi) after . . . well, after doing everything you’re supposed to do in order to legally buy a semi-automatic rifle in the state of Virginia.

“Throughout most of America, you could go into a gun store and buy an AR-15, just like you’d go into a Starbucks and buy a cup of coffee,” UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told CBS.

Actually, no. By CBS’s own account, the producer 1) provided two forms of identification to prove state residency, 2) a passport to prove U.S. citizenship, 3) filled out the required state and federal forms reporting her name, date of birth, social-security number, and past criminal convictions or restraining orders (if any), and finally 4) passed a federal background check.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had to do any of that when buying a cuppa joe at Starbucks.

CBS News thinks this is a story because the process took a total of 38 minutes for the producer to purchase an AR-15, a magazine, and 100 rounds of ammunition. But I wouldn’t call that scandalous, I’d call that efficient customer service.

Take a minute to think about the demands of the gun-control Left. Would universal, instant background checks have prevented this purchase? The purchaser passed a background check. How about preventing those on the terrorism watch list from purchasing guns? While I can’t be sure, I assume CBS’s producer was not on the terrorism watch list. How about making sure the mentally ill, those involved in domestic abuse, or minors cannot purchase guns? What about cracking down on “Internet sales” or expanding the definition of “federally licensed firearm dealers” to include most private sellers? What about closing the “gun-show loophole”? It doesn’t appear that any of those reforms would have prevented this purchase either.

CBS’s producer fulfilled the requirements under the law to purchase the weapon — if CBS wants to take the editorial position that all gun purchases should face a mandatory 48- or 72-hour waiting period, that is their prerogative. But as it stands, this is a non-story. What would have made it a story? Perhaps if a CBS producer with a criminal record, or under some other current legal prohibition from purchasing a firearm, had managed to buy the rifle in 38 minutes. Now that would be a scandal.


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