On February 19th, CNN host Chris Cuomo retweeted an article, written by Cody Davis and published by The Tab, which bore the headline “I was able to buy an AR-15 in five minutes.”
In the 2-year-old article, Davis described a visit to a Virginia gun shop. He wrote that he approached an employee for assistance in picking out “something for home protection and target practice.” According to Davis, an employee later let him look at an AR-15 and obliged Davis’ request to take a photo of Davis with the weapon. Davis claimed that the employee didn’t notice that his license was expired and that he’d tried to share his drivers’ license renewal receipt, and was asked to provide his vehicle registration for verification. Later on, according to Davis:
After he walked me through the paperwork, all five pages of it, I told him I changed my mind and wanted to think more before I bought an AR-15. He told me it wasn’t a problem and listed the store hours if I wanted to come back. I then said thank you and walked back to my car.
Seconds. It took seconds for the salesman to take an AR-15 off the shelf and begin selling it to me. If I had stayed for maybe three minutes longer to fill out less paperwork than I did for the hiring process at my school’s bookstore, I would’ve driven home with an AR-15.
No delay. No extensive background check. Just my recently expired driver’s license, my vehicle registration, and filling out some paperwork.
The headline of Davis’ story claims that he was able to purchase an AR-15, but the content within the article itself revealed that he was not actually “able” to do so, due to his admission that he left the store without completing any paperwork that would have triggered a background check.
Days after Cuomo retweeted the article, backlash began to mount.
Hey, @ChrisCuomo from CNN. Saw the article you retweeted: “I WAS ABLE TO BUY AN AR-15 IN 5 MINUTES”
Did you see the part where he admits to neither filling out the necessary paperwork (which would initiate the background check) NOR purchasing the AR-15? Weird. pic.twitter.com/wLfaiKCqaM
— Chet Cannon (@Chet_Cannon) February 21, 2018
Not necessarily linguistically, but it’s clearly phrased to give that impression (and fooled Cuomo). Also, not sure it’s true even on those terms, as I understand it the paperwork begins the background check, which he may not have passed w/out a valid ID.
— Andrew DeLaney (@andyndelaney) February 21, 2018
When purchasing a firearm, they will let you hold it and look at it. When you are ready to actually purchase it, they begin the background check, which includes checking the ID.
— Kirk Redeker (@KirkRedeker) February 21, 2018
In response to National Review editor Charles Cooke, Cuomo claimed that his motivation for retweeting the article was to call attention to the man’s lack of identification and his belief that “the system should be better.”
The point is that the kid lied about buying a gun that he didn’t, and that you are now lying too.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 21, 2018
Cuomo continued to respond to criticisms throughout the day.
I don't think people are fighting better background checks, what they are saying is, for you to quit sensationalizing fake stories or lies to promote your narrative. You, @CNN @ErinBurnett @AC360 need to be more responsible with your reporting and the truth will set you free.
— pete burgos (@ingreen422) February 21, 2018
If the kid didn’t fill out the paperwork, he wasn’t sold/didn’t buy a gun. The point of the piece is the willingness to sell him one. The point is we need a system of checks that covers all sales and covers certain types of disqualification, at least temporarily. Trump agrees. https://t.co/PjHoUQqlk9
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) February 21, 2018
The store was not willing to sell. The minute he would’ve filled out the paperwork his ID would’ve been checked. A foolish stance on your end and reckless of you to push such misleading information
— Andrew (@andrewaarias) February 21, 2018