PA House Speaker looking into whether laws were broken for NBC's ghost gun story

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Any time the glib anti-freedom caucus gets a chance to hold up trophies in the way of menacing looking firearms, they will. Whether it’s Sleepy Joe holding up a pistol frame on the lawn of the White House (what’s the DC transfer laws?) or some other lawmaker holding up an AR-15 like they’re a Star Wars Tusken Raider wielding gaderffii sticks over their heads, indecipherable grunts and all, they love these theatrics. While these behaviors might make for good optics, often times the lawmakers and or journalists involved break the law during the process. I recently reported on a story my colleague, John Crump over at AmmoLand did about NBC News and the PA’s office of Attorney General possibly breaking the law. The piece involved an 80% lower/home build firearm antic they engaged in. While performing their theatrics, which included using a hidden camera against the policy of the gun show (which I hope they press charges over if that policy has weight of law), the persons involved converted their own 80% receiver into a firearm, crossed state lines, and did so while muddling up the chain of custody, leaving a “who did this for who” question. The Pennsylvania House Speaker is having none of this and it’s been reported he’s looking into this event closely.

Pennsylvania State House Speaker Bryan D. Cutler has advised a group of gun rights organizations including the Second Amendment Foundation that he is “reviewing all allowable actions at the disposal of the General Assembly” in reaction to a call for an investigation following what appears to have been a violation of various state and federal gun laws in a recent NBC hidden camera report on “ghost guns.”

The undercover report involved NBC reporter Vaughn Hillyard and the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in which Hillyard purchased two P80 firearm kits. He subsequently enlisted help from agents with the AG’s office to complete the “80% kits” turning them into fully functional firearms. The finished guns were fired on camera.

Responding to the investigation request, Speaker Cutler said the matter could be referred to the House Government Oversight Committee, or SAF could also pursue action from the U.S. Department of Justice, because it involves alleged violation of federal gun laws.

“At present,” Speaker Cutler wrote, “I am reviewing all allowable actions at the disposal of the General Assembly regarding this issue. Again, I want to thank you for bringing this important issue to my attention.”

It’s about time a lawmaker had the stones to stand up against this kind of action. All too often these kind of antics occur in deep blue areas that are sympathetic to the anti-freedom caucus, not jurisdictions that are purple with a deep red underbellies. This AG and journalist may have picked the wrong arena to have the performance of their magnum opus (all possibly for political points for an upcoming election). I’d love to see members of the magazine-clip, shoulder thingy that goes up and down, hit those deer that wear a Kevlar vest with incendiary rounds to cook ’em when you shoot ’em crowd pay for the laws they break when trying to make a point.

Speaking on behalf of the Second Amendment Foundation, Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb had some sentiments to share about this announcement.

“We’re delighted that Speaker Cutler is taking this matter seriously,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “When this apparent ‘sting’ was first brought to our attention, we were stunned that anyone from a responsible news organization would try for such sensationalism. Only a full investigation can determine whether, and to what degree, state and federal laws were violated.”

The NBC report aired on March 17. It was first exposed by Ammoland journalist John Crump, who covers the firearms industry.

“Just because you’re a reporter, you do not enjoy any special privilege to violate the law,” Gottlieb observed. “We’re indebted to Speaker Cutler for outlining the authority, and the limitations, of the House of Representatives when it comes to investigations, and especially for providing other options that are available.

“We certainly intend to pursue this matter, wherever the path takes us,” he said. “This kind of nonsense may look good during a news broadcast, but the glimmer wears off fast if there is a criminal violation that may be prosecuted.”

This is all big news, even though it might not seem it. Gottlieb is correct in his assertions about different classes of people being able to have special privileges to break the law. None of the participants in this underground hit-piece are above the law. These actions from a so-called responsible news organization were shocking to take in through an ethical lens. But when have ethics really come into play when the gun-grabbers are doing their thing?

We’re going to be watching rather closely and hope to be reporting more on this situation. Let’s hope that NBC has circled their wagons, because it looks like they’re going to need to based off of Cutler’s statements. As for the PA AG? Whatever sword he may or may not fall on, eh, he should have known better.