The liberal media is so obsessed with linking the Navy Yard shooter with the AR-15 rifle that it is making up false tales of Aaron Alexis trying to obtain one.
The New York Times attempts to give the impression that a so-called assault-weapon law stopped Alexis from buying a rifle in Virginia, but that is not true.
The Times has a story Tuesday on its homepage with the headline “State Law Stopped Gunman From Buying Rifle, Officials Say.”
The first line says: “The gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday test fired an AR-15 assault rifle at a Virginia gun store last week but was stopped from buying one because state law there prohibits the sale of such weapons to out-of-state buyers, according to two senior law enforcement officials.”
Apparently neither the reporter nor his editors took the time to fact check their vague “law enforcement officials” sources.
“Virginia law does not prohibit the sale of assault rifles to out-of-state citizens who have proper identification,” Dan Peterson, a Virginia firearms attorney, told me Tuesday night. The required identification is proof of residency in another state and of U.S. citizenship, which can be items like a passport, birth certificate or voter identification card.
The Commonwealth defines “assault firearm” as any semiautomatic centerfire rifle or pistol with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds or can accommodate a silencer or is equipped with a folding stock.
John Frazer, also a firearms attorney in the Commonwealth, told me that, “State law in Virginia — like most states — allows purchase of rifles or shotguns by residents of other states. Virginia simply requires some additional forms of identification.”
Spokesmen for the Times did not respond to requests for comment.
Federal law is clear on this residency issue. A quick glance at the ATF website would have informed the New York Times journalists that a person may buy a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a federal firearms licensee’s premises in any state, provided the sale complies with state laws, which it would in this case.
Perhaps they were confused with the federal law on handguns, which can only be sold or transferred through dealers in the same state as the buyer.
While it is true that Alexis rented and shot an AR-type rifle at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, sources close to the investigation tell me that he did not attempt to buy the rifle.
Instead, he passed both the federal and state background checks and bought a Remington 870 shotgun and 30 shotgun shells (00 buckshot), which he used, tragically, to kill 12 innocent people.
The Times’ mistakes indicate the paper is trying to give the impression only some unexplained “assault weapon” ban in Virginia stopped Alexis from killing more people. The truth is that we have thousands of gun laws on the books, but none of them stopped a homicidal maniac intent on mass murder.
Despite all the stories over the last 48 hours about the AR-15, it was never used by anyone but law enforcement at the shooting on Monday. The New York Times should issue a correction immediately.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).