Store Owner: Undercover CBS Purchase of AR-15 Broke Federal Law

ATF, Virginia State Police contacted over ‘straw purchase’

CBS News reporter Paula Reid exits SpecDive Tactical, a Virginia gun shop / Screenshot from CBS News

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The gun store where a CBS News employee purchased a gun for a segment that aired Thursday on "CBS This Morning" has filed a report with the Virginia State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives over concerns the purchase was unlawful.

The store, SpecDive Tactical in Alexandria, Virginia, said that when CBS News' Paula Reid purchased the rifle she told the store's general manager the gun was for her own use. However, when CBS reported on the story they revealed the gun was purchased for the story and transferred to a third party a few hours later. "The rifle we purchased was legally transferred to a federally licensed firearms dealer and weapons instructor in Virginia, just hours after we bought it," the report said.

The store said they contacted the ATF after viewing the report because they feared the misdirection used by the CBS reporter constituted a straw purchase, which would be a federal crime.

"Ms. Paula Reid came into the shop with cash, claiming she wished to purchase an AR-15 to, ‘undergo training,’" Ryan Lamke, SpecDive's general manager, told the Washington Free Beacon. "She refused basic, free instruction of firearms safety under the pretense that she was using the firearm for training with a NRA certified instructor."

"Due to the information provided in the CBS News report filed today, I suspect Ms. Reid committed a straw purchase and procurement of a firearm under false pretenses."

SpecDive owner Jerry Rapp said that Reid misleading the store about her intention to give the gun over to a third party was a clear violation of the law.

"The law is very clear. When you knowingly attempt to purchase a firearm with the intent of giving it to another person, you are trying to bypass the legal pathway to firearms ownership," he said. "This, in itself, is a very serious crime. I do not see how any member of the press can get away with potentially committing a felony just to boost their ratings and mislead the general public."

The ATF acknowledged the questions surrounding the CBS News report but did not say whether or not it was currently investigating it.

"ATF is aware of the story, however, the details and the outcome of the sale in question is unclear and it is not evident if a violation occurred," Corey Ray, ATF spokesperson, told the Washington Free Beacon. "In the event that an investigation is initiated, as a matter of policy, ATF does not comment on or acknowledge ongoing investigations."

CBS insisted that the actions of its employees were legal. "This story was reported lawfully and in accordance with CBS News’ standards," a CBS News spokesperson told the Free Beacon.

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Stephen Gutowski is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He founded his own site as a junior in college and has been writing about news and politics since that time. He spent 4 years with the Media Research Center and was most recently with the Capitol City Project. His email address is Gutowski@FreeBeacon.com. His twitter handle is @StephenGutowski.