Under the Gun Isn’t the Honest Documentary It Claims to Be
Released in May 2016, the Katie Couric-backed documentary Under the Gun claimed to be a neutral exploration of gun violence and gun safety in the U.S. However, the film was plagued with criticism from its first showing. Journalists proved that the documentary had deliberately been edited to make pro-gun advocates seem stupid. In an even bigger controversy, the film’s director actually admitted to breaking federal gun laws during filming.
What Happened Behind the Scenes of Under the Gun?
While filming Under the Gun, a producer who lived in Colorado traveled to Arizona to buy three handguns and an AR-15 in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. Director Stephanie Soechtig later admitted that the producer purchased the guns from an individual who didn’t hold a federal firearms license (FFL), and no background check was performed prior to the sale. She insisted that everything done in the film was totally legal and that a gun-law “loophole” had been exposed.
That just isn’t true. Many licensed dealers with an FFL weighed in on the issue and clarified what federal gun laws actually say. They shared that out-of-state buyers could buy long guns in Arizona but only after they had undergone a background check by a licensed dealer. That background check could be completed by either a dealer in Arizona or a dealer with an FFL license in the buyer’s home state.
Of course, it’s apparent that the producer broke federal gun laws when completing the transactions. Gun buyers must follow federal laws too, and the crew on Couric’s documentary clearly failed to do that. The producer had either not researched federal gun law or simply chose to break it when he purchased the weapons outside his home state.
Media Response to the Controversy
Critics in the conservative media were quick to point out that Soechtig had admitted to breaking federal gun laws. More than just break the law, she used the illegal sale to try to paint a false picture. What the film seemed to say about the incident was that it was simply too easy to buy long guns in the U.S.
That isn’t what the film proved at all. Instead, it backed up the pro-gun argument that criminals will go around any gun laws that the federal government puts into place in order to buy guns. It’s something that FFL holders and gun advocates have known for a long time.
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