A reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times attempted to purchase an AR-15 so he could write a story wailing about how easy it is to buy the gun. But he was denied for a reason that is simply hysterical.
The reporter, Neil Steinberg, started his piece by writing that he was “nervous” to head into the “Valley of Death” of buying a gun, trying to squirm out of the assignment. When he entered the store, Maxon’s, Steinberg flat-out asked one of the people who works there, identified as Mike, if he felt “guilty about the people killed by the guns he sells.” Mike gave what Steinberg calls a “fair” answer: “That’s like asking a car dealer if he felt guilty if someone gets drunk and kills somebody in a car he sold.” Steinberg was also open about his intentions with the gun: buy it, write the story and then hand it over to the police.
Suddenly, Steinberg started to feel guilty about how he was excited to start firing his gun the next day because of “the current environment of outrage and horror.”
“Had I been co-opted by the purchase process? By the friendly staff at Maxon’s?” Steinberg wrote. “Heck, there is a whole world of hobbyists, of hunters, of people who love guns for a variety of reasons that are not crazy. Three hundred million guns in America. If the vast majority weren’t handled safely, we’d all be dead. Oh well, I thought, no harm in a gun story reflecting the gun owner’s perspective.”
There was just one problem: Steinberg wasn’t going to become a gun owner.
He received a call from Maxon saying that the transaction was canceled, and they refused to tell him when he asked why it happened. He assumed it was simply because he’s a reporter. But eventually Maxon sent a statement to the Sun-Times highlighting a piece of rather important information: “It was uncovered that Mr. Steinberg has an admitted history of alcohol abuse, and a charge for domestic battery involving his wife.”
Steinberg then went off the deep end in his column, as he continued to hide behind the conspiracy theory that he was simply denied because he’s a reporter.
“Gun manufacturers and the stores that sell them make their money in the dark,” wrote Steinberg. “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,” continued Steinberg. “They shun attention because they know, if we saw clearly what is happening in our country, we’d demand change.”
First, the research part of his quote is a myth. Second, the most likely reason they denied Steinberg is because he actually does have a history of being an alcoholic and wife batterer, which is not a charge he disputed. It’s almost as if Steinberg used the “They hate me because I’m a reporter” excuse as a deflection from his record of abuse.
If Steinberg weren’t such an anti-gun zealot, he’d realize that what happened to him actually shows that the system worked–they found something in record that was a red flag, so they denied the sale. That’s typically how it works. “Would-be terrorists” and “insane people” can only purchase guns if there’s nothing on their record to suggest that they’re either of those two things.
Instead, Steinberg will keep to his conspiracy theory to maintain his anti-gun stance and as a way to avoid owning up to his history of alcohol abuse and wife battering.