Media Smears on Gun Shops Go Local, but There’s a Way to Fight Back

Earlier this week, we covered USA Today’s hit piece on gun stores that are part of the ATF’s Demand 2 program, but now the national paper’s attack is going local. 

In order to be put on the Demand 2 list, an FFL store has to have sold at least 25 guns in a one-year period that were part of an ATF trace within the past three years. There are some 1,300 stores across the country on the list, but the ATF itself says that those shops that have received that designation aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong. The more guns that are sold, the more likely it is that one or more of them will be subject to a trace at some point, but that caveat didn’t stop USA Today, and now other papers that are a part of the USA Today network, from insinuating that the stores must be doing something wrong to end up on the list. 

The Naples, Florida, Daily News, for instance, titled its story, “These Naples gun shops sold the guns used in crimes, according to new federal list,” almost identical to the Fort Myers News-Press headline, “These Lee County gun shops sold the guns used in crimes, according to new federal list.” 

The location may have changed, but the smear is the same: these are the stores that are arming criminals. You have to read several paragraphs of their reports before learning that being on the Demand 2 program is not considered evidence of any crime committed by the gun store owners or employees. 

Being on the list is not an indication of wrongdoing on the shop’s part, the ATF is quick to point out.
“A number of factors, including geography, sales volume, secondary market transfers by an original lawful purchaser, and the level of sophistication of firearm traffickers, may be involved in a traced crime gun,” ATF spokeswoman Kristina Mastropasqua wrote in an email.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal ran with the slightly less incendiary headline, “See which Tennessee gun stores made ATF list of places that sold most firearms used in crime,” but the insinuation is still that there’s something nefarious with these shops. In fact, the Memphis paper never even bothered to include the quote from Mastropasqua, even though it was a part of USA Today reporter Nick Penzenstadler’s original piece. 

Not every gun that’s traced by the ATF is used in a crime, and not every gun used in a crime is traced by the agency. In Florida, for instance, the top four categories for gun traces in 2021 were “firearm under investigation,” “possession of a weapon,” “found firearm,” and “carrying a concealed weapon.” Those categories accounted for 19,288 of the 34,491 traces conducted by the ATF in Florida that year, and many of those traces may not have involved a crime at all, an important fact that’s completely missing from all of these reports.  

The entire point of these stories is to name and shame gun stores, even though these retailers are routinely working with local, state, and federal law enforcement to stop straw purchases. Combatting this media bias is an important part of our mission here at Bearing Arms, but we need your support to continue to bring the truth to light. 

If you think independent, pro-Second Amendment reporting is important – holding lawmakers accountable, providing facts to counter the gun control lobby’s fictions, and highlighting armed citizen stories and defensive gun uses that are routinely ignored by the national press – you can help us by becoming a VIP or VIP Gold member today. 

Your support will allow us to continue to provide pro-2A viewpoints that can never find a home in the mainstream media, as well as give you in-depth discussions with newsmakers, legislators, litigators, and Second Amendment advocates from across the country. The current assault on our right to keep and bear arms is like nothing I’ve seen in 20 years of covering 2A news and issues, and with your help, we can not only defend our Second Amendment freedoms but strengthen and secure them as well. 

You can sign up for our VIP and VIP Gold memberships here, and use the promo code SAVEAMERICA to get 50% off your membership! Not only will you receive exclusive content not available to non-members, as well as a fully AD-FREE experience on the site, in our THM News app, and emails, but you’ll be playing a major role in helping us use our First Amendment rights to safeguard our Second Amendment liberties. 

This is a critically important time in the fight to defend our freedoms, and with your support, we can push back on the lies from the anti-gunners and deliver the truths they and their allies in the media want to keep from seeing the light of day.

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