The news outlet claims buying an AR-15 is like “ordering groceries.” The fact check comes quickly.

A news outlet was promptly fact-checked on Friday after publishing a story claiming that buying an AR-15 rifle online is like “ordering groceries.”

What was claimed?

Zach Seward, editor-in-chief of Quartz, tweeted Thursday: “We bought a gun – the same Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 assault rifle that was used at Uvalde. It was like ordering groceries. Click, checkout, done.”

In the story itself, Quartz claims Purchasing the firearm only took “five clicks”. In fact, history has made the ability to buy firearms online problematic by repeatedly stating that the website they bought the firearm from did not verify the purchaser’s age or requested a background check.

“Other than that, it was a routine purchase, no different than a Lego set from Amazon or a pair of shoes from Zappos. Aside from the lethality of the product, of course,” the story reads.

Then, after outlining the legal requirements for purchasing a rifle, the story noted, “We received no notices or warnings about this during the ordering process.”

“[T]The fact that buying a firearm doesn’t feel noticeably different than ordering these everyday items is a revealing comment on the proliferation of guns in US culture,” the story concluded.

How was the reaction?

The story’s design drew widespread criticism for obscuring the process of buying firearms online.

It is true that you can buy firearms online just like any other normal item. But the difference — and this is a key difference — is that firearms purchased online can only be shipped to state-licensed firearms dealers. The Quartz story relegates this crucial difference to the last paragraph of its story.

There, the identity and legal entitlement of the buyer is verified by the dealer, who also carries out a background check. The process also requires the buyer to fill out a government document, ATF Form 4473. State and local laws can further complicate and delay the process.

Here’s what critics of the story said:

  • “‘It’s like ordering groceries…’ if Safeway had access to your criminal records and personal information to sell you a strawberry,” said communications strategist Matt Whitlock mocked.
  • “Except he had to go to an FFL, fill out a 4473, wait for NICS to clear before even going with it. Funny, I’ve never had to do that for groceries — and in some states you wait a few days,” Dana Loesch written down.
  • “Just like ordering groceries, when ordering groceries means going to a specially licensed dealer and passing an FBI background check. (Also, it’s not an ‘assault rifle’),” said conservative writer David Harsanyi said.
  • “These people are such liars. You must go to an FFL dealer to collect them. Before you go with it, you will be subjected to a background check. Only if you pass the background check have you bought the gun,'” Jason Howerton said.
  • “‘Buying a gun is like buying groceries!’ Because we all know that if you pick up your curbside order at Wegman, you have to pass a federal background check, you’re faking it on purpose,” John Cooper of the Heritage Foundation mocked.
  • “Not a single person in this entire media organization thought that this story felt incomplete before it was published. This is cultural illiteracy — and it’s just as bad as a news organization without women, or one without the perspective of non-white employees,” Steve Krakauer written down.
  • “Yes, ordering groceries, something that’s known to require proof of a clean criminal record,” said journalist Drew Holden mocked. The news outlet claims buying an AR-15 is like “ordering groceries.” The fact check comes quickly.

Laura Coffey

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