Things are going from bad to worse for embattled executive producer Katie Couric, director Stephanie Soechtig, and their alleged gun-purchasing Colorado producer, believed to be Denver attorney Joshua A. Kunau.
Soechtig’s February video-taped confession of the interstate purchase of firearms by a Colorado-based producer was well-documented by Ammoland.
In February, The Lip TV interviewed the film’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, prior to the film’s release. During this interview, Ms. Soechtig openly discussed how she sent a producer of the film, who resides in Colorado, to Arizona to purchase firearms (including three pistols) privately. [original video marker 1.27]
According to Ms. Soechtig, the producer met a private seller in a parking lot of a local Wendy’s, and in less than four hours and without a background check, obtained a Bushmaster rifle and three handguns.
Trying to cover her tracks—and presumably cover-up her production team’s crimes—Soechtig then changed her story substantially, confirming that her producer did indeed commit federal firearms felonies, even as she attempted to claim otherwise.
In response to a series of detailed questions about the incident posed by The Federalist, Soechtig simultaneously confirmed that she and her team skirted federal gun laws and declared that they did absolutely nothing wrong:
“While it may seem hard to believe that one could buy these types of guns this easily, all purchases in the film were made completely legally. Arizona law allows out-of-state residents to buy long guns (i.e. rifles, shotguns, military style assault rifles) from a private seller without a background check. It also allows Arizona residents to buy handguns from a private seller without a background check.
“We demonstrated both versions of this dangerous loophole in the film on a hidden camera, in full compliance with both state and federal laws. The rifles – including a Smith and Wesson M&P 15, the gun used in the Aurora massacre – were purchased by an out of state resident. The handgun was purchased by an Arizona resident.
“These guns were then turned over to law enforcement and destroyed. They never left the state of Arizona.”
When combined with her statements during her interview with The Lip TV, Soechtig’s latest statement provides clear evidence that she and her team did not follow all applicable gun laws.
In the videotaped interview, Soechtig stated that all of the weapons, including the rifles, were purchased without the buyer having to undergo a federal background check.
“We sent a producer out and he was from Colorado. He went to Arizona, and he was able to buy a Bushmaster and then three other pistols without a background check in a matter of four hours,” Soechtig declared. “And that’s perfectly legal.”
And in her statement provided to The Federalist, Soechtig admitted that multiple rifles were purchased by a non-Arizona resident.
Federal and state gun law experts contacted by The Federalist vehemently disagreed with Soechtig’s declaration that out-of-state residents can legally purchase guns from private Arizona residents without processing the sales through a licensed federal gun dealer.
18 U.S.C. Section 922(a)(5) states that (a) It shall be unlawful—(5) for any person (other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector) to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person (other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector) who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside… in the State in which the transferor resides.
Put into plain English, Under the Gun producers committed felonies when they induced an Arizona resident into breaking the law to conduct an interstate sale. They also committed felonies by purchasing these guns in an interstate sale.
But it gets better
Under the Gun producers then broke the exact same laws again, as none of the producers lived in Arizona and could legally transfer the guns to law enforcement.
Put bluntly, they committed felonies acquiring the guns, and committed felonies getting rid of them.
But we’re not done
As Under the Gun producer(s) (including executive producer Katie Couric?) and director Soechtig worked together to break federal gun laws, they’re also apparently guilty of conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 371. The number of people who committed this felony, and how many counts they should each face, is uncertain without more detail into how they decided to make their criminal interstate purchases and disposal of multiple firearms.
All total, this attempt to prove that we don’t have enough gun laws may ultimately represent a dozen federal felonies for those involved.
And there may be one more fish to fry
If Denver attorney Joshua A. Kunau is indeed the producer who facilitated the felonious interstate transfer of firearms in Arizona and if he participated in a conspiracy to conduct those crimes, it would seem grounds for him to be disbarred from practicing law in Colorado… or just about anywhere else.
The arrogant and combative Soechtig has now twice confessed (on video and in writing) to committing federal felony crimes that should lead to criminal charges against at least her and the Colorado producer (believed to be Kanau), along with any other Under the Gun staff/producers who took part in the conspiracy to make these clearly illegal interstate sales.
ATF Phoenix Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Thomas Atteberry and Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Mickey D. Leadingham have little recourse other than to start an investigation into the confessed crimes.
Realistically, I don’t expect Katie Couric, Stephanie Soechtig, or the Colorado-based producer who purchased the weapons to spend any significant time behind bars for their crimes.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona John S. Leonardo should still bring felony charges against these apparent criminals, perhaps letting them off with parole if they agree to each plea to a single felony count.
Felony convictions would make these conspirators “prohibited persons” in the eyes of the law, ensuring they would never be able to purchase, trade, or possess firearms again for the rest of their lives.
As that is what they desire for their fellow citizens, it seems like a very fair outcome.