Reporter Tries to Prove How Easy it is to Buy a Gun, Gets Blocked at Every Turn, Gives Up

A reporter at Business Insider went on a mission to prove how easy it is to obtain a firearm in America, obviously expecting to be able to stroll into Walmart and walk out with a machine gun, only to be blocked at literally every turn, and walk away empty handed. 

Hayley Peterson wrote a long form piece in Business Insider, detailing her attempts to purchase a gun at a Walmart. The first one-third of the piece is dedicated to explaining how difficult it was to find a Walmart that sold guns in the first place. Not all Walmart locations sell guns. Chalk that up to user error.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) keeps a list of every federally-registered firearms dealer in America. Peterson was unaware of that fact. When she finally found a Walmart in Virginia that sold guns, she went there to try to buy one. She detailed her findings.

“A selection of about 20 rifles and shotguns was displayed in a locked glass case behind the sporting-goods counter. The guns ranged in price from $159 to $474,” she said, seemingly surprised that the guns were locked up.

She told an employee she wanted to buy a gun. That employee called a manager.

“After a few minutes, a Walmart manager arrived at the gun-sales counter. She said I could not buy a gun that day because no authorized firearm sellers were scheduled to work,” Peterson said. “A Walmart spokesman later told me that to sell firearms, employees must pass both an enhanced criminal background check and annual online training, provided by Walmart, that includes a mock gun transaction.”

Peterson went back the store two days later, when the appropriate manager was on duty. She said she was “confident” she would be able to purchase a gun during the second go-around. This time, she was at least able to begin the process.

“She charged me $2 for a federal background check, then left the counter and returned a few minutes later with a form titled ‘Department of State Police Virginia Firearms Transaction Record,'” Peterson said. “She told me to complete the form.”

She described the form. Similar forms are required for every gun purchase in America, though they vary by state. If you’ve purchased a gun, you’ve filled out a form like this. I did it two weeks ago when purchasing a handgun at a gun store.

Peterson said:

The form asked several obvious questions: my name, address, and Social Security number. It also asked about my race, gender, and US citizenship status. Under a section called “certification of transferee,” it asked about my criminal record — whether I had ever been convicted of a felony, subject to a restraining order, or prohibited from purchasing a firearm, among other specifics. In red print, the form said that “an untruthful answer may subject you to criminal prosecution.”

But she was stopped before she could even finish filling out the form. The address on her license did not match her home address. The law requires proof of address. If the address on your license does not match the address you print on the form, you have to provide further documentation.

“To pass the background check, I would need to bring in a government-issued document with my correct address, such as a bill from a state-owned utility or a car registration. (I have never bought a gun, so I wasn’t aware of this.)” she said.

(Editor’s note: I had the same problem two weeks ago when I purchased a handgun from a local gun store. My license has a non-current address. The gun store asked if I had any further proof of the address I wrote on the form. I had to go to my car, retrieve my registration, and show it to them. Only then could we proceed.)

“At this point, I decided to give up on buying a gun at Walmart,” Peterson said. “I had invested several hours across two days on this. If I were actually in the market for a rifle, I would have gone to a local gun shop instead after about five minutes of trying to figure out which Walmart stores sold guns.”

The bottom line is this: purchasing a firearm in America is not nearly as simple as the political left would have you believe.

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