A recent King 5 News broadcast reported on gun violence around the Puget Sound.
The fact that the reporters referenced Champion Arms and the Kent gun store’s licensing issues is a case history in how the news media often portray gun issues in a false light.
Champion Arms had almost nothing to do with the stated subject matter of the story, which was how people like the Cafe Racer killer, Ian Stawiki, obtain guns.
Stawiki, who killed four people in Seattle and wounded another, did not have a criminal record nor any record of mental illness. It is hard to understand exactly why he was even mentioned in the story unless the goal was to associate gun stores with violence.
KING 5 News alleged that Champion’s gun store would “close down in a matter of days,” but Champion’s administrative problems with paperwork were not in any way related to selling guns to criminals or other inappropriate persons.
Nevertheless, any viewer exposed to the broadcast would get the idea that 58 guns reportedly lost in 2009 had something to do with criminals getting their firearms from Champion Arms.
The fact is that clerical errors affect firearms dealers severely because gun sales are conducted within a highly regulated environment. There have been no allegations that Champion made it possible for criminals or other inappropriate people to possess firearms of any kind.
Full disclosure: I have been retained as counsel to represent Champion’s owner. We are presently investigating the way in which KING 5 presented the story, and we need to hear KING 5’s explanation regarding why Champion Arms was included in a story dealing with criminal activities and gun violence.
The story quoted an agent-in-charge of Seattle’s ATF branch who mentioned “rogue merchants who don’t care where their guns end up.” The statement was followed almost immediately by the reporter stating, “Champion Arms in Kent is an example of what happens when a firearms dealer loses its way.”
Champion Arms has been in business for many years and has not sold any firearms to prohibited persons. Thus, it is not a “rogue merchant.” The store is expected to continue in existence under new ownership.
All of us live within a very sensitive and dangerous environment. Folks from all sides of the divide, including gun owners, lawyers, the press and broadcast media, should be working to avoid insinuations that create an atmosphere of paranoia and distrust. That is the only way to hold an honest discussion.