image
The “assault rifle” delivered by UPS to the Berman’s front door.

The story of a UPS Christmas delivery of an assault rifle to an unsuspecting Oceanside, NY couple has been picked up by the Associated Press and is spreading across the country like wildfire.

Originally published by Newsday, the article, bearing the headline “Couple Says UPS Delivered Assault Rifle, Not Toy For Grandchild”, reads:

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (AP) — A New York couple was horrified when a UPS delivery that they thought was a Christmas present turned out to be an assault rifle.

Newsday reports that Joel Berman opened the keyboard-sized case in front of his wife and 6-year-old granddaughter Wednesday night in Oceanside, on Long Island.

Instead of a toy plane they were buying for their friend’s son, they found a semi-automatic rifle, scope, stand, ammo clip and copies of an Arizona man’s driver’s license and concealed-weapons permit.

First of all, a semi-automatic rifle is not an “assault rifle” as the flashy headline and article falsely claims but additionally, this gun is a 5 shot, bolt-action Barrett M95 so it’s not either of the guns they are reporting. Secondly it’s absolutely legal to send shipments of repaired firearms to customer’s homes and this customer, as evidenced by the copy of their licensing, is a legal gun owner.

His gun simply didn’t make it to the correct address.

Atlanta-based UPS says it’s investigating the “highly unusual incident.”

“UPS does accept shipment of certain firearms in our domestic U.S. system as long as the shipments comply with applicable law and are shipped in accordance with company policies,” said Susan Rosenberg, a representative for UPS. “These shipments must be between licensed manufacturers, dealers, distributors, collectors and exclude consumer shipments. UPS puts responsibility with the shippers of regulated goods to follow the requirements for labeling and specific packaging.”

Whether the shipper incorrectly labeled the package or the UPS driver got the wrong address, the story is much ado about nothing. But since the story, which does a great job of spreading an inflammatory idea that we have easy access to assault rifles in America and insinuates purchased guns are being delivered to people’s doorsteps, it’s been picked up and shared from New York to Seattle.

If only today’s journalists were as good at fact checking or sharing stories of how guns save lives as they are about spreading fake news, we’d be in a much different place in our pursuit of strengthening gun rights.