In a Fox11 Investigates story I covered Monday on gun sales in Wisconsin, I withheld a little nugget from the main article so that I could address it separately.
…because it was just so special that it was worthy of it’s own article.
In the article on Green Bay’s Fox11 News website, veteran reporter Mark Leland stated he was “told off-camera by a representative of Badger Gun Sales that he won’t sell a handgun to a woman without her first getting trained.”
*Oh my gosh, hey – before ya know it, the women up here are gonna be doing things like votin’ and wearing trousers, telling their old man, ‘yeah, I’m gonna go get a job in an office, ya know, hey!’ – gosh darnit anyway.
I decided either a) this guy is going to get a serious piece of my mind or b) there’s something wonky with Mr. Leland’s reporting. So I called Badger Gun Sales, LLC in Green Bay, WI (and no, they are not related in any way, shape, or form to the Badger Guns in Milwaukee) and spoke with the store’s owner Perry Sarto.
Sarto told me he spoke with Mark Leland weeks ago, as in over a month ago. Leland called to ask if he could interview Sarto in his store for the investigative piece on guns he was developing. But since he has had his words twisted by the press before, Sarto declined the invitation, speaking with the reporter on the phone instead.
“I talked with Leland for quite awhile on that phone call,” Sarto told me. “I asked him, ‘Why don’t you guys (in media) report the facts, like how many auto deaths there are verses homicides with guns or cover stories where everyday citizens are successfully using firearms to protect themselves and their families?’ but you know, that was more for me than him.”
“I spent more than a half an hour on the phone with Leland, you know, I gave my time to talk with him, and I went into great detail explaining my philosophy on promoting gun safety and training to everyone who walks into my store,” Sarto continued, “and I told him point blank – we don’t sell firearms here at Badger Gun Sales, we work with customers to find the firearm that fits them best and we leave the sale up to them.”
So I asked him, “Perry, did you ever at any time tell Mark Leland or anyone with Fox11 that you ‘will not sell a firearm to a woman unless she has training’?”
“No,” he replied sternly. “Look, I promote gun safety, so everyone who comes through my door is going to hear the same thing from me: get trained, take a class, look into extended training courses – I’ve never said anything different to anybody regardless of sex, color, creed or race. I promote firearms training and gun safety, because that’s what I believe gun stores should do, and I believe in doing the right thing.”
So do we, Perry, so do we.
Look, we have a ton of amazing women repping shooting sports; Julie Golob, Katie Pavlich, Diana Mueller, Jana Waller, Dana Loesch, Natalie Foster, Nikki Goeser – women from every walk of life working to advocate for women who shoot and defend the Second Amendment in a diverse range of venues… and shoes. Not only have we worked hard to get where we are, but you guys have also risen to the occasion to respectfully share the center stage with the fairer sex.
The last thing we need is some reporter throwing a small business owner in the firearms industry under the bus just to sensationalize his 9 o’clock news story on guns in Wisconsin.
Take a look at the comments on Fox11’s Facebook page beneath Leland’s article and see what viewers took from his entire body of work: not the empowering message from Kris Schmidt from the Well Armed Woman or the impressive rise in gun sales in the Badger State. The majority of responses are viewers expressing outrage at the most inflammatory comment he reported.
Leland’s ‘reporting’ turned an opportunity to shine a light on what the Well Armed Woman is doing in our community into a lynch mob rallying against a local business owner.
Oh, and I contacted Mark Leland at Fox11 to see if he is willing to stand by his report, but he did not returned my call at the time of this story’s publication.
Unlike him, I will not print something I think he said ‘off camera’ to sensationalize or push my article – I think his lack of journalistic integrity is sensational enough.
SOUND OFF! Let Fox11 know what gun owners think of Mark Leland‘s reporting skills and be sure to give Badger Gun Sales in Green Bay a little love and some mad props – they’re getting skewered by people who still trust reporters.
*in my WisCAHNsin accent