Chicago journalist can’t buy a gun

| June 19, 2016


The folks at Maxon Shooter Supplies and Indoor Range, who claim to be TAH fans, send us a link to the story about them in the Chicago Sun Times, wherein the Times sent Neil Steinberg, one of their reporters, to write about his experience buying and firing an evil black, scary gun (known in journalistic circles as an assault rifle). Steinberg does the handwringing thing about guns and journalistic integrity thing during his drive to Des Plaines, Illinois to the Maxon “lemonade stand” as the owner described it to me.

Driving to Maxon Shooter’s Supplies in Des Plaines on Wednesday to purchase my first assault rifle, I admit, I was nervous. I’d never owned a gun before. And with the horror of Sunday’s Orlando massacre still echoing, even the pleasant summer day — the lush green trees, fluffy white clouds, blue sky — took on a grim aspect, the sweetness of fragile life flashing by as I headed into the Valley of Death.

Earlier, in my editor’s office, I had ticked off the reasons for me not to buy a gun: this was a journalistic stunt; done repeatedly; supporting an industry I despise. But as I tell people, I just work here, I don’t own the place. And my qualms melted as I dug into the issue.

He needn’t have worried – after he filled out the paperwork paid for his Smith & Wesson M & P 15 Sport II there was a waiting period, during which his purchase was rejected by the gun dealer;

I was looking forward to shooting my new rifle the next day. I’ve shot guns. It’s fun. I was worried though, about having fun with guns in the current environment of outrage and horror. Had I been co-opted by the purchase process? By the friendly staff at Maxon’s?


At 5:13 Sarah from Maxon called. They were canceling my sale and refunding my money. No gun for you. I called back. Why? “I don’t have to tell you,” she said.


A few hours later, Maxon sent the newspaper a lengthy statement, the key part being: “it was uncovered that Mr. Steinberg has an admitted history of alcohol abuse, and a charge for domestic battery involving his wife.”

Well, didn’t see that coming.

Of course, Steinburg thinks that’s not the reason, he thinks it’s some bias against journalists.

Would-be terrorists can buy guns. Insane people can buy guns. But reporters . . . that’s a different story. Gun makers avoid publicity because the truth is this: they sell tools of death to frightened people and make a fortune doing so.

Or maybe the fine folks at Maxon don’t like their guns in the hands of mean drunks who beat their wives.

I’m pretty sure that, if the sale had been approved, the headline would have read something like “Local gun dealer sells gun to wife beater” It was probably the editor’s intent from the beginning – that’s why they chose Steinberg in the first place to make the purchase.

From the Maxon Facebook page;

Mr. Steinberg was very aggressive on the phone with Sarah, insisting he was going to write that we denied him because he is a journalist. “Journalist” is not a protected class, BTW. We contacted his editor and said that, while we don’t normally provide a reason for a denial, in this case to correct the record before you publish, here’s why; we pasted a couple links of press accounts of his past behavior and his admission of same. He’s free to believe or disbelieve that’s why he was denied, but that *is* why he was denied. There was no “We’ll see you in court!!!!” type of language from us – we simply want to set the record straight. That it undermined his thesis and rendered the column incoherent isn’t really our problem, is it? Thanks for your support.

Clarification: Steinberg did fill out an ATF 4473. he didn’t lie on the form which asks the respondent if they have ever been *convicted* in a court of a domestic violence misdemeanor and, apparently, Steinberg wasn’t convicted (even though you or I would have been convicted). He made a big deal about his arrest and his “come to Jesus” moment in the paper and in his book “Drunkard”. Because he doesn’t have a conviction, he also has a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card.

Steinberg didn’t pop hot on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check because he doesn’t have a conviction, and he didn’t lie on his ATF 4473.

Everyone in Chicago knows about his escapades as a drunk and a wife beater because he wrote about it, the staff at Maxon knew about his past and they denied his purchase based on Steinberg’s own admissions in his writings about it. The firearms dealer has the final say in whether you get a gun or not and because of Steinberg’s local reputation, they decided not to take a chance on him. I hope that answers your questions.

Category: Guns

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