In an attempt to show how easy it is for anyone to purchase what he deemed as an "assault rifle," Chicago reporter Neil Steinberg went to a gun store with plans to purchase one. However, his plan backfired when he was denied after his background check failed to clear. He received the phone call from the gun company letting him know the company was refunding his money because his application to purchase a gun had been denied (the state of Illinois requires a 24-hour waiting period when someone wants to buy a gun). According to his report, the caller declined to let him know why exactly his application was being denied. Because of this, he assumed it was because he was a reporter and the company did not want to be identified as one that sold weapons to just about anyone. However, the caller said this was not the case. It turns out his background check showed a history of domestic abuse and alcoholism, which is the reason the application was rejected.
Steinberg did not take kindly to the news. In fact, he appeared to be outraged. He originally wanted to scrap the story so no one knew what had happened during his experience, but his editor made him write it anyway. Instead of admitting that he was unable to purchase the gun due to his background check findings, he said it was because he was a reporter and the company didn't want any bad press. He went ahead and pushed his agenda, saying that he thinks it is easier for a terrorist to purchase a gun than it is a reporter: "I'll state what I believe the real reason is: Gun manufacturers and the stores that sell them make their money in the dark. Except for the week or two after massacres, the public covers its eyes. Would-be terrorists can buy guns. Insane people can buy guns. But reporters...that's a different story."
Nothing to Hide
Despite his past, it doesn't appear that Steinberg has a desire to hide his history involving alcoholism and the case of domestic violence against his wife. In fact, he admits that he has issues with alcohol and that he once slapped his wife during an argument. He has even written a book detailing the circumstances. Some think that because he was denied, he didn't want to point to his background check as the reason for his application's denial. On the other hand, had he received the gun, some speculate that he would have focused the article on how easy it was for him to legally obtain the weapon, despite his history.
All of this is in reaction to the events that occurred in Orlando earlier this year. Forty-nine people were killed and many more were injured in what is the biggest mass shooting in modern American history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call before opening fire at the gay nightclub in an ordeal that lasted several hours. The weapon that Mateen used, an AR-15, was the weapon that Steinberg tried to purchase.
Mateen obtained the weapons legally a few days before the shooting. He had been investigated by the FBI on two separate occasions, but both times the investigation was closed due to lack of evidence. Former co-workers and friends of Mateen have said they reported him to the FBI due to some of his remarks and behavior, but nothing ever came of it.
Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country despite being one of the cities with the highest levels of violence. The fact that Steinberg tried to purchase the gun in Chicago could explain why his application was denied while Mateen was able to purchase the gun with ease in Florida.