We’ve come to expect a great degree of left-wing, anti-gun bias in most mainstream media outlets. While we wish those biases didn’t exist, we trust most news consumers to be able to read between the lines to extract the truth. Based on the record support for gun rights, it seems certain that Americans have learned to cut through the media’s dishonest spin.
What we do not expect from our media is outright lies, such as those in a story released today from WCNC-Charlotte entitled Untraceable and unlicensed: A look at the gun industry’s loophole.
The story by “journalist” Sam Baranowski (video above) makes a number of patently false claims as it attempts to assert that it is easy for anyone to build an unlicensed machine gun.
The story starts dramatically, as Baranowski flashes to a montage of footage from the Santa Monica College shooting of of 2013. Baranowski then claims that the killer built a “machine gun” that he used in the attack. This is a demonstrable falsehood, easily debunked with even the most cursory web search.
No machine guns were used in the incident.
WCNC’s Baranowski blatantly lied.
But even more breath-taking than Baranowski’s dishonest claim about that incident is is how she twisted the words of employees of the nation’s largest gun shop, Hyatt Guns, to be used to push her agenda.
Hyatt Guns owner Larry Hyatt and employee Roger Ayscue voluntarily sat down with Baranowski, and had their words twisted in the patently dishonest report:
“We were surprised in our own gun industry our own business to see this loop hole,” Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Guns said.
You can buy the part legally, and build your own assault rifle legally.
But, when you build your own assault rifle from a blank there are no serial numbers, no permit, no paper trail, and no background checks.
“What we’re concerned about are the felons, drug dealers, and terrorists. They’re a true threat to our communities. The law abiding citizens, we are more at risk because we try to do things right and the bad people they don’t care what the laws are,” Hyatt said.
It’s legal to possess a gun you’ve built yourself. It’s not legal to possess a fully automatic weapon unless you’ve gone through the extensive process. So how can someone be caught with a machine gun illegally?
“If you’re a convicted felon and you have it, they can arrest you. but they’d have to catch you. and there’s no record showing you bought it!,” Hyatt said.
Anyone who wants to crawl through this loophole can get the parts to make a semi, or fully automatic weapon. The hard part is they have to recognize them.
Roger Ayscue is a gun-building and firearms law expert. He heads the Tactical Department at Hyatt.
So we put him to the test.
He found all the parts to build an AR15.
“This kit here sells all the parts necessary to build an M16, including the regulated parts,” he said, showing us what he found with a quick internet search.
That’s what really surprised him. Roger not only found all regulated parts, but also parts for full-auto, avoiding the extensive approval process to possess an automatic weapon. He could also pay for next day shipping.
“I can take the stuff on any three of the kits, and in about a day and half of calm, easy working I can build you a functional M16,” he said.
We do take issue with Mr. Hyatt’s poor phrasing. Building your own firearms isn’t a “loop hole.” Building your own firearms is an American tradition dating back before long before the founding of this great nation, and has always been legal under federal. That isn’t a loophole, but an intentional feature of a free and liberty-loving Republic.
As long as you build a firearm for your personal use and don’t sell it or trade it, it is perfectly legal to build your own shotgun, pistol or rifle, as long as these firearms comply with all other federal laws, such as the National Firearms Act and the Firearm Owners Protection Act. Becuase of these laws, we haven’t been able to build machine guns legally for 29 years.
As for what Mr. Ayscue doesn’t say about building a functioning machine gun from a parts kit—or at least isn’t quoted as saying—well, the devil is in the details.
A block of polymer or aluminum called an “80% lower receiver” and jigs used to make an semi-automatic AR-15 can be found almost anywhere online, as can the full-auto parts (including the M16 trigger control group and bolt carrier group) on numerous web sites. What Baranowski doesn’t report—either through malice or ignorance—is that you can’t put those M16 parts in an AR-15 lower receiver and have them fit, much less function.
It’s another lie, this time, one of omission.
We don’t expect either competence or accuracy from the mainstream media, but we don’t expect outright deception, either.
I talked briefly to Larry Hyatt this afternoon, and he said that he was sorry and very disappointed in Baranowski’s report. He said that she edited out important information, and of that I have no doubt whosoever.
It’s what they do to push a poltical agenda.
We, as an industry, have to be smarter about dealing with the mainstream media. A strict “no comment” policy is perhaps the smartest approach.
As consumers of news we have the right to demand honesty from reporters such as Sam Baranowski, and from news outlets like WCNC.
Update: We seem to be having “problems” accessing the story on WCNC-TV’s web site.
In addition Sam Baraowski and WCNC have deleted their social media (Twitter and Facebook) promoting the story.
It’s not the formal retraction we asked for, but it’s better than nothing.