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Is CNN Report on "Legal Guns that Go Bad" Misleading?

CNN is currently running a series of reports called "The Gun Trail," about the business of guns in the United States. The latest story that aired Tuesday on "American Morning" dealt with what it called the "iron pipeline," about how guns supposedly purchased legally end up in the hands of criminals. But a conservative media watchdog group has major problems with the report.

The report deals mostly with what are known as "straw purchases." That is when someone legally buys a gun, but is really buying it for someone who cannot legally purchase one. CNN says this is the first step of the so called "iron pipeline," that ends when this now illegal gun is smuggled up the I-95 corridor from the southeast, where it is relatively easy to buy a gun, to the northeast, where it is much harder.

But NewsBusters, which describes itself as "the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias" says the entire report is seriously flawed. That's because these "straw purchases" are themselves illegal. So the supposed "legal gun that goes bad" was never legal at all. And CNN, NewsBusters says, never revealed this fact.

NewsBusters writes:

During his report, (correspondent Ed) Lavandara zeroed in on straw purchases at gun stores, such as "The Gun Shop" in Savannah, Georgia, managed by Kayton Smith and Ricky Duffy. The correspondent spent a day with Smith and Duffy, and noted that "customers fill out a form declaring they're buying the gun, not someone else. Then Kayton Smith calls for an instant background check. The buyer is either approved, delayed, or denied. That puts Smith and Duffy's gun shop on the front lines in the battle against straw purchasers, people who pretend to buy guns for themselves then pass them on to someone who can't lawfully own a firearm."

The CNN correspondent never disclosed during the segment that such straw purchases are felony offenses under the Gun Control Act of 1968. Thus, the graphic on-screen during Lavandera's report, "How Legal Guns Go Bad: States with weaker gun laws attract traffickers," gave a misleading impression, as these "iron pipeline" guns are not legally purchased in the first place.

CNN has not commented on NewsBusters' accusations, but one can safely assume, as news networks often do, that CNN stands by its report.


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