Townhall news editor Katie Pavlich, who was recently hired as a Fox News contributor, twisted comments made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at a press conference announcing the introduction of assault weapons ban legislation to make it seem as if the senator claimed that all weapons used in mass shootings were obtained from gun shows.
Palvich, who reversed the order and altered the content of Sen. Feinstein's statements, used this distortion to claim that “no gun purchased at a gun show has ever been used in a mass shooting,” a false statement contradicted by the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. All four firearms used in that shooting -- which left 13 dead and 21 wounded -- passed through an area gun show. From Pavlich's article:
Feinstein repeatedly slammed the gun lobby, invoked the tragedy in Newtown where it was convenient and gave Americans a misleading picture of how guns are bought and sold on a regular basis to law-abiding citizens.
“The common thread in these mass shootings is that in each a sami-autic, semi-automatic was used,” Feinstein said. “They are sold out of trunks and back seats of automobiles and at gun shows.”
No gun purchased at a gun show has ever been used in a mass shooting.
While Pavlich claimed that Sen. Feinstein said, “The common thread in these mass shootings is that in each a ... semi-automatic was used,” Sen. Feinstein actually said that, “The common thread in these shootings is each gunman used a semi-automatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazine.” Her full statement from the press conference is accurate. The shooters in the Newtown elementary school massacre and mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado used both an assault weapon and high-capacity magazines. The Oak Creek, Tucson, Virginia Tech and Columbine shooters all used handguns equipped with high-capacity magazines.
The footage from the press conference demonstrates how Pavlich cropped Sen. Feinstein's statement and twisted the meaning of her words:
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Weapons designed originally for the military, to kill large numbers of people in close combat, are replicated for civilian use. They fall into the hands, one way or another, of grievance killers, of gangs, of those who are mentally unstable or ill. They are sold out of trunks and back seats of automobiles in cities, as well as gun shows with no questions asked. Massacres have taken place in businesses, law practices, malls, movie theaters, and especially, schools. These massacres don't seem to stop. They continue on. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek. The common thread in these shootings is each gunman used a semi-automatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazine. [emphasis added to remarks quoted by Pavlich]
In her remarks about the sale of firearms “out of trunks and back seats of automobiles,” Sen. Feinstein was referring to the fact that a significant proportion of firearms -- by some estimates up to 40 percent of all sales -- are sold through private sales without a criminal background check on the purchaser.
The fact that it is possible to obtain a firearm from a private seller without undergoing a background check has been exploited by mass shooters. In October 2012, a man prohibited from purchasing a firearm because he was subject to a protection order was able to purchase a gun through a private seller he contacted over the Internet. He then used that gun to shoot eight people at a Wisconsin spa.
A compilation of mass shootings published by Mother Jones lists a number of mass shooting incidents in which shooters obtained their firearms from individuals rather than licensed firearms dealers, including a September 2011 shooting at a Carson, Nevada IHOP that left four dead and seven wounded and a 2003 racially motivated mass shooting at a Lockheed Martin plant in Mississippi that left five dead and eight injured.
The private sales loophole was also exploited by white supremacist Benjamin Nathaniel Smith. Smith, who was prohibited from purchasing a firearm because he was subject to a restraining order, went through a private seller to obtain the weapons he would use in a racially motivated shooting spree that left two victims dead and nine injured.