Undercover CBS reporter breaks law in purchasing a weapon, gets caught

Liberal journalists try to buy an AR-15 to prove how easy it is to obtain a long-gun under false pretenses (i.e., for the purposes of terror).  Alas, the system worked.

From Free Beacon:

Store Owner: Undercover CBS Purchase of AR-15 Broke Federal Law
ATF, Virginia State Police contacted over ‘straw purchase’

The gun store where a CBS News employee purchased a gun for a segment that aired Thursday on “CBS This Morning” has filed a report with the Virginia State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives over concerns the purchase was unlawful.

The store, SpecDive Tactical in Alexandria, Virginia, said that when CBS News’ Paula Reid purchased the rifle she told the store’s general manager the gun was for her own use.  [She lied.] However, when CBS reported on the story they revealed the gun was purchased for the story and transferred to a third party a few hours later. “The rifle we purchased was legally transferred to a federally licensed firearms dealer and weapons instructor in Virginia, just hours after we bought it,” the report said.

The store said they contacted the ATF after viewing the report because they feared the misdirection used by the CBS reporter constituted a straw purchase, which would be a federal crime.  [Got that?]

“Ms. Paula Reid came into the shop with cash, claiming she wished to purchase an AR-15 to, ‘undergo training,’” Ryan Lamke, SpecDive’s general manager, told the Washington Free Beacon. “She refused basic, free instruction of firearms safety under the pretense that she was using the firearm for training with a NRA certified instructor.”

“Due to the information provided in the CBS News report filed today, I suspect Ms. Reid committed a straw purchase and procurement of a firearm under false pretenses.”

SpecDive owner Jerry Rapp said that Reid misleading the store about her intention to give the gun over to a third party was a clear violation of the law.  [And the shop turned her in.]

“The law is very clear. When you knowingly attempt to purchase a firearm with the intent of giving it to another person, you are trying to bypass the legal pathway to firearms ownership,” he said. “This, in itself, is a very serious crime. I do not see how any member of the press can get away with potentially committing a felony just to boost their ratings and mislead the general public.


Read the rest there.

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  1. Rev. Mr. Stephen says:

    Will she be charged, like David Daleiden?

  2. Prayerful says:

    Lol, I wonder if that reporter will have her day in court.

  3. TomCom says:

    And if instead of being a reporter who broadcast the whole situation on television, it had been a friend of a drug dealer who sold it to the dealer, how would the shop owner know, and how would the law have worked?

    Serious question. Please answer.

  4. Scott W. says:

    And if instead of being a reporter who broadcast the whole situation on television, it had been a friend of a drug dealer who sold it to the dealer, how would the shop owner know, and how would the law have worked?

    It’s a faulty question because a drug dealer wants no traceable chain-of-custody at all when he gets firearms. Guns laws, whether lax or rigid, are irrelevant to hardened criminals.

  5. TomCom says:

    Scott, that is not an answer. Guns made in America always enter the supply chain for illegal use from some legitimate source.

    By way of example, the Chicago Police Department attempts to trace all weapons it recovers from crimes and generally succeeds. They very often come from straw purchases made just outside the Chicago city limits. This NY Times study has details. http://goo.gl/zfOpUL

    The premise of Fr. Z’s post was that the law works. I maintain it does not because in the vast majority of instances a firearm dealer would not know if a gun were transferred shortly after sale as a straw purchase.

    So, my question remains. Can anyone answer it without dismissing it or using a slogan?

  6. Matthew says:

    David Gregory brings illegal magazines to DC, the DC cops want to arrest him and the USAttorney says no.

    They are protected because they have the imposter in chief’s back.

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    TomCom observes lucidly that “Guns made in America always enter the supply chain for illegal use from some legitimate source.”

    Does anyone know any good studies or other, more incidental sources, for details about this such as, how many/what percentage by theft from legal owners (broken down by manufacturers, businesses, various level government agencies, private individuals, etc.), and how long they remain in circulation once they enter the “supply chain for illegal use”?

  8. TheDude05 says:

    The point of the straw man law is to be able to prosecute the purchaser when the gun is traced. In those cases in Chicago the DA now has the option to also prosecute the person who made the gun available to the malefactors. This in turn will dry up one source of firearms. In this case the person purchasing the gun did so under false pretences, which may be a crime, but she did not deliver it to someone who is forbidden by law from having a gun. Even if money was exchanged I don’t think this qualifies as a straw man purchase per the law but it might depending on state laws. Some people will purchase guns for personal use and then sell it quickly for various reasons, the question is one of intent in this case.

  9. WYMiriam says:

    So, does this mean that anyone who wants to purchase a firearm to give as a gift to anyone else is committing a federal crime??

    In other words: if John Doe wants to purchase a firearm, in order to *use it* as a gift, then he’s committed a federal crime?


  10. Scott W. says:

    If find no problem in my answer, so have a nice day.

  11. TomCom says:


    It would be great if authorities would and could prosecute straw purchasers. In most states, however, it is very difficult (bordering on impossible) to do so.

    Since there is no requirement to document the private transfer or theft of a firearm in most jurisdictions, all the original purchaser needs to do is say, “I sold it at a gun show. Don’t know to who,” or, “It was stolen from my house.”

    In order to prosecute the buyer for a straw purchase, authorities would have to prove that was a lie. Very, very, VERY difficult to do in most cases.

    California is one of the few states where straw purchases can be detected and prosecuted. All gun transfers, even gifts between immediate family members, must be documented by a licensed firearms dealer. Neglecting to do so would leave you on the hook if a weapon ends up used in a crime.

    Scott — Fair enough. Let’s take the drug dealer part out of the equation. In any given straw purchase, how might a gun dealership know it was a straw purchase so they could deny or report it and so make the law work?

  12. TomCom says:

    Venerator Sti Lot – You raise a good question.

    I did cursory web search and found two interesting articles. Neither is an in-depth study, but both are informative.


    For a variety of reasons it seems difficult to determine the source of many illegal firearms. For instance, how can you tell the difference between a straw purchase and a licensed dealer making an illegal sale? You can’t investigate every single illegal gun recovered, so it is hard to tell.

    In the first article, the ATF says 10-15% of illegal guns are stolen. The remainder come mostly from straw purchases and licensed dealers diverting weapons to the illegal market. Apparently a majority of weapons used in crimes originate from 8% of licensed dealers.

    Investigating and prosecuting these illegal transfers is very difficult due to the current legislative situation and limited funding.

    ATF is deliberately crippled by Congress: It has not had an appointed head confirmed by the Senate in years, is not allowed to use computers to track gun sales but rather must use paper kept in filing cabinets, and is very underfunded given the size of the gun market in the US.

    Some gun rights supporters say we don’t need additional gun laws, we only need to enforce the ones we have. But they are a politically powerful group and block funding and resources for the agencies that are tasked with enforcing them. Does not make much sense.

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thanks for the links! I have not gone on to follow their further links yet, but they themselves certainly seem to support your saying, “For a variety of reasons it seems difficult to determine the source of many illegal firearms”!

    It also seems (to me, at least) difficult to sift through the information they provide, as, when the first, by Dan Noyes, draws on ATF agent Jay Wachtel saying, 10-15% of illegal guns are stolen, but also on “interviews with those recently arrested” with “with 13 percent of all arrestees interviewed admitting that they had stolen a gun”, but of “their most recent handgun”, “15% said it was a gift; 10% said they borrowed it; 8% said they traded for it; while 5% only said that they stole it.”

    Professor Cook, in the second one, seems to confirm that, but without quoting percentage figures: “Whether guns that end up being used in crime are purchased, swapped, borrowed, shared or stolen, the most likely source is someone known to the offender, an acquaintance or family member.” He also cites a “national survey of inmates of state prisons found that […] of youthful (age 18-40) male respondents”, “90 percent obtained them through a variety of off-the-book means: for example, as gifts or sharing arrangements with fellow gang members.”

    Noyes quotes an ATF report of guns ultimately traceable to FFls where “27.7 % of these firearms were seized by law enforcement in connection with a crime within two years of the original sale.” Cook quotes a report that “The average age of guns taken from Chicago gangs is over 11 years.”

    Noyes reports, “ATF officials say that only about 8% of the nation’s 124,000 retail gun dealers sell the majority of handguns that are used in crimes. They conclude that these licensed retailers are part of a block of rogue entrepreneurs”. But Cook, by contrast, says, “What appears to be true is that there are few big operators in this domain. The typical trafficker or underground broker is not making a living that way, but rather just making a few dollars on the side.”

    It certainly seems sensible both (Noyes) that ” Cracking down on these [8% of] dealers continues to be a priority for the ATF”, and that (Cook) tackling the “social networks [which] are playing an important role in facilitating transactions” should be one, too – for which he suggests (unspecified) legal changes will be needed but also giving “this sort of gun enforcement high priority” including “penetrating the social networks of gun offenders.”

  14. TheDude05 says:

    Tom Com you asked how the law is supposed to work, not the actuality of trying to litigate it. I answered the question to the best of my ability in how it is supposed to work. Whether or not it is difficult to prosecute is besides the point. If they claimed they sold it at a gun show there is an ability to use circumstantial evidence to still produce a conviction. Did you sell it to this individual? Then you sold it to a felon which is illegal. How soon after purchasing dis you sell it at this gun show for it to have made its way into unlawful hands? You bought it last week and now it has been used in a crime, where was this gun show? What day of the week was it on? Etc etc. The problem is that it is difficult and costly to prosecute without a significant assurance of victory which prosecutors then refuse to prosecute. That has been the argument of the gun community, enforce and prosecute the laws that are already on the books. If you lose, so what, that person had to spend money on a defence and he is now a known agent to keep an eye on.

    You also lose sight of the post, which is about someone getting caught knowingly falsifying an ATF form and lying to the shop owner. In this case the law did work 100% the question now is will this person be prosecuted as they should be.

    Lastly, it appears you are pro gun control, you have your right to that opinion. That opinion is protected by the first amendment to the same document that protects a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. If you wish to acknowledge and use first amendment rights you accept the authority of the document. If you accept that authority why do you wish to undermine that authority when it comes to the next lines in that same document?

  15. TomCom says:

    Venerator Sti Lot – Very interesting analysis, thanks!

    TheDude – Any law which requires a “perpetrator” to “confess” on television in order to work is not a very useful law.

    But more important, you imply that I am somehow not respecting the 2nd Amendment.

    Perhaps the greatest reason why our nation cannot have productive conversations on these topics is that a certain subset of the pro-gun rights side of the conversation has convinced less extreme folks that even the slightest regulation will somehow lead to the disarming of the American citizenry.

    That is not and has never been the case. From colonial times to the present various regulations of firearms have existed along with the right to bear arms. Gun rights and gun regulations are not opposed to each other. Rather gun regulations help to ensure the balance of gun rights with other fundamental rights, such as that to life and the general public safety.

    It’s also worth remembering that none of our rights are without limit. One cannot incite violence and claim it as a 1st Amendment right, the 4th and 5th Amendments don’t apply if there is an immanent risk to the life of others, etc.

    Regarding the balance of gun rights and gun regulations, permit me to give an example of my own views on one specific area.

    I believe that most any law-abiding citizen should be able to obtain a concealed carry permit.

    I also recognize that carrying a firearm in a public is a public safety issue. Both the carrying of the firearm itself, and even more so its potential use, can have an impact on the safety of others, who have a right not to be harmed by its misuse.

    So I would require CCP holders to complete real training — not only gun basics and safety but how to use one in self-defense situations — and demonstrate proficiency before issuing a permit. I would also require range time at least 4 times a year and refresher safety and tactics courses every so few years. (Veterans with a combat MOS could be waived for a time from some of these requirements.)

    Such a regulatory framework would be no disenfranchisement and would protect public safety.

    Of course most of our gun issues in this country are not caused by CCP holders, and I’m much more interested in effective legislation to prevent criminals from obtaining weapons. Such as universal background checks including all private party sales, and the reporting of all firearm transfers so that weapons that end up used in a crime can be traced back to a source. Cut off the illegal gun supply chain, save lives.

    No one would have their 2nd Amendment gun rights taken away by such a practice. And it won’t lead to gun confiscation either. Since the Heller v. DC decision, gun rights are stronger now than ever before.

    A serious question – Why do you think so many gun owners, or at least the most politically vocal ones, oppose universal background checks and reporting gun transfers?

  16. Sri_Sriracha says:

    One reason that universal background checks is opposed is that it becomes a de facto firearms registry, which is a prerequisite for any future firearms confiscation. I suppose if the data were not allowed to be saved beyond the time required to conduct the check, it would be more palatable, but even here we have to be careful about what is meant by the term “transfer.” For instance, Washington state recently enacted a universal background check law, but the meaning of transfer also includes temporary possession, including simply letting another person use your gun at a shooting range: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/11/02/how-everytowns-background-check-law-impedes-firearms-safety-training-and-self-defense/.

    Also, in an age where simply having a photo ID is too onerous of a burden on the rights of voters, mandatory extensive (and I might add very expensive) firearms training certainly disenfranchises low income individuals that likely live in high crime areas and thus have the greatest need for the protection firearms provide. Now, if the government could subsidize firearms training and ammunition purchases, we might be able to get some movement on that issue!

  17. TheDude05 says:

    In the case of universal background checks I have two points to make. The first is that would require citizens to pay for private sales to conduct the background check, even if I was gifting a family heirloom to my kid. Also if people are having to pay and go to specified people to conduct the background checks there is, according to the logic of needing an ID to vote, disenfranchisement of the less fortunate and minority classes. Second, in the case of the shooters in Orlando, San Bernardino, and others, the purchased the guns legally and passed background checks. The system doesn’t work unless you have already been convicted of a crime, and even then it often fails. Why keep throwing money and time at something that does not work? The other part is how far some are willing to go to dog into people’s past and lives to fill this background check system. They want doctors reporting to it, some states allow concerned family members to report into it, the no fly list that has many false positives needs to be attached to it, etc. In many ways they want to expand the data gathering for the list there is not an ounce of due process, which is kind of a hallmark of American legal justice.

    In the case of your first amendment argument, one has the ability to incite violence with speech, they are being held responsible for the aftermath of that. Now if they call specifically for harm to fall on someone we have allowed the government to prosecute that, but in the case of a speech that riles people up, lawsuits and some criminal statutes apply.

    In the case of your ideal CCL, the statistics do not warrant what you are proposing. The majority of CCL shooting are conducted legally with very few instances of innocent bystanders becoming casualties. A better thought would be to up the range time of police officers, as the case of officers shooting civilians more times than a crook in New York showed. Also in the case of your veteran waiver, that is not and should not be a case for giving more rights to another class of people. It is the same as law enforcement loopholes to laws. If your idea was to be law it should apply equally to all members of society. Veterans may be more knowledgeable, but most shooters will tell you that shooting is a diminishing skill with time away from it. Perhaps if ammo was more freely available and less costly more people would out time in on the range, but again a lack of means should not disbar someone from exercising their rights.

    Lastly to your colonial argument. The bill of rights was only meant to apply to the federal government, not to the states. States had the authority to regulate firearms if they so chose. The wide reaching expansion of the intent of the fourteenth amendment by activist courts allowed that the bill of rights should apply also to all of the states. This action now means that the states must abide by federal law when it comes to firearms. This was not the intent of the founders, nor does it make sense when reading the Constitution or any of the writings of the Framers. I think states should be able to set their own laws in these matters, the only area of the Constitution that would address it is the section addressing the licenses of other states, which means my concealed carry permit in Texas should be just as valid in New York. After the Obgerfell ruling it should be even more valid, but that ruling was also out of bounds of the intent of the writers of the fourteenth amendment.

  18. TheDude05 says:

    After some further reflection I have some more points on universal background checks. In order for it to work you must have people willingly comply with it. The only way of knowing that they didn’t would be after the fact, much like the straw purchase law you think is useless. The vast majority of law abiding gun owners would probably go along with it since that is what we do. Here is an issue though, would I need a background check to loan my gun to a buddy who wanted to take it hunting or target shooting? Would I need proof of ownership on me any time I am transporting, using, or carrying it? The only way to gain near 100% compliance would be a national gun registry, which is repugnant to any liberty loving, Constitutional American. That would require I waive my 4th amendment and 5th amendment rights in order to exercise my 2nd amendment rights. I would have to disclose an itemized list of my private property without due process or probable cause, and should one of those guns have not gone through a background check, give testimony or evidence against myself.
    As for the need for permits to carry, I would point to the states that have adopted Constitutional carry, they have not soaked their streets in blood, nor do they have any higher incidence of bystander casualties than other states. The permit merely signifies that government has the right to make you pay for your rights.

  19. TomCom says:

    Sri_Sriracha, TheDude, thank you both. You both bring up very good points. I’d love to discuss more but don’t have much time this week. I’ve appreciated our conversation, have learned more, appreciate the complexities of these things more, thanks.

    If I could ask one question of you both or anyone else: The concerns about gun confiscation that so many gun owners have, really do often make it impossible to have discussions about these things. If the answer is always no because of concerns about confiscation, then no argument or statistics or facts or good intentions on the part of the other side really matter.

    From where I sit, I see there are over 300 million civilian owned firearms in the United States, the right to bear arms is guaranteed not only by the 2nd Amendment but also (and often more explicitly) by the constitutions of 43 of the States, and the Supreme Court affirmed in 2008 the individual right to own a firearm.

    Somehow repealing all these legal protections and then confiscating (or buying back, at what I estimate to be a minimum cost of $200 billion) 300 million firearms, mostly from people who would not want to give them up…. is really impossible.

    So I don’t understand the very strong confiscation fears. Can you help me to gain some insight?

  20. TheDude05 says:

    Other countries while not having the magnitude of firearms that we do have shown that confiscation can happen. I also believe that if it came down to confiscation here there would be no buy back, it would be in the words of Feinstein, “Mr. and Mrs. American turn them all in.” When one hears the rhetoric of the Democratic party elite wanting an Australian style gun ban it makes one worry. I am more concerned about a registry from the very simple area of the Constitution. Nowhere does it grant the federal government the right to force people to register their arms, and as such doing so is a threat to my rights. Further in that vein nothing in the Constitution grants the federal government the power to confiscate anything from the people, excepting eminent domain, if anything it the case of the second amendment it forbids such an act. As such the mention and advocacy of it outside the grounds of Constitutional authority makes me uneasy. Lastly should they be successful in these areas, which I doubt based on the numbers, what would they come for next? The Constitution is not a complicated document and any areas that seem indecipherable to our modern use of language are well covered in the writings of those who wrote and adopted it. As such the document should not be abused to mean things that it was never intended to cover. The simplicity is in the act of subsidiarity, those things best handled by the states or the people should be left to them. That is why the Bill of Rights, excepting the tenth amendment, were not meant to apply to the states but only to the federal government. All other power was to remain in the rightful hands of the states and the people of the states. This is why we get concerned, actions and talk of confiscation and registration are the final death knell of our once great republic, and that frightens us.

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