Group Asks Newspapers to Stop Selling Guns Through Classified Ads

The Other David

Elite Refuge Member
Apr 15, 2000
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This is but one of the groups that wants ALL guns sales to be regulated.

Group Asks Newspapers to Stop Selling Guns Through Classified Ads

John Johnson, Campaign Chairman
National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Classified Gun Ad Loophole
(319) 981-3325

National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Classified Gun Ad Loophole

Study Reveals Potential Terrorist Threat: More than 75% of Surveyed U.S. Newspapers Allow Unchecked Gun Sales Through Classified Ads

Washington, DC - Unchecked gun sales through classified ads in U.S. newspapers pose a terrorist threat, according to a study released by the National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Classified Gun Ad Loophole. More than 75% of surveyed newspapers in 16 states allow unchecked gun sales through classified ads.

As part of the national effort to prevent potential terrorist acts, the National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Classified Gun Ad Loophole is calling on newspapers to stop allowing the sales of guns through classified ads.

The Campaign also released a letter to Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft urging them to take action to close the newspaper classified gun ad loophole, either through regulatory powers available to them in their efforts to fight terrorism or through the use of their "bully pulpits" to urge newspapers to discontinue the practice of allowing the sale of guns through classified ads. The National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Classified Gun Ad Loophole recommended that this is a patriotic contribution that newspapers can make to the war on terrorism.

"Sales of guns through newspaper classifieds offer the anonymity and ability to avoid law enforcement checks, which make them a potential source of guns for terrorists," said John Johnson, Executive Director of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, which founded the coalition of 23 state and grassroots gun violence prevention groups.

Two major U.S. newspapers, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chicago Tribune have already changed their policies in response to the Campaign to no longer accept gun ads for either handguns or rifles and shotguns. The Sandusky Register in Ohio changed its classified advertising policy to only accept classified ads for rifles and shotguns, and will no longer accept ads for handguns.

The National Campaign is not calling for the end of newspaper display ads for licensed retail gun dealers because background checks are required at the time of sales.

One revealing example of why the newspaper loophole needs to be closed is the case of Ben Smith, a white supremacist from Peoria, Illinois. Smith attempted to purchase handguns from a gun dealer, but was prevented from doing so because he underwent a criminal background check. Smith, however, took advantage of the "newspaper gun ad loophole" and bought two handguns from a local paper, the Peoria Journal Star: a Bryco .38 and a Ruger 22. Over the July 4th, 1999, weekend, Smith went on a shooting spree in Illinois and Indiana killing two and wounding nine others before committing suicide.

"Ben Smith is a chilling example of how easy it is to obtain a gun simply by taking advantage of the newspaper classified gun ad loophole and reigning terror on a community," said Thom Mannard, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

"People blame the media for violence, which may or may not be true," said Ona Hamilton, President of the Pennsylvania Million Mom March. "However, the newspaper classified gun ad loophole is an example of newspapers potentially providing a direct connection to violence by making it easy for overseas or domestic terrorists to get guns."

"A potential terrorist or criminal can purchase virtually any type of firearm he wants from the classifieds of many papers, including assault rifles in some cases, and still avoid going through a background check in most states," said Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Ceasefire New Jersey.

Results of the Survey:

A total of 282 newspapers were surveyed in 16 states by 23 state and grass roots organizations working to prevent gun violence. 77% of newspapers surveyed accepted classified ads for guns. In Texas, Michigan, Virginia, and Delaware, all of the newspapers surveyed accepted gun ads.

46% of newspapers surveyed did not accept classified ads for handguns. "We consider 46% of newspapers refusing to accept classified ads for handguns significant," said John Johnson. "Handguns account for 80% of all firearm- related deaths and injuries and 90% of all gun crimes. Clearly newspapers are aware of America's handgun problem if almost half of the newspapers surveyed won't accept classified ads for handguns."

The Campaign displayed the wide-ranging weaponry found in classified ads with enlargements of ads for assault rifles, including an AK47 and an AR 15. The ads that Ben Smith found in the Peoria Journal Star were also on display.

"There is a hole in the law as big as Texas," Jennifer Beazley, Executive Director of Texans for Gun Safety commented, "and terrorists and criminals can walk right through it to buy their guns."

Several newspapers have taken courageous steps towards limiting a potential terrorist threat, domestic or foreign, by voluntarily choosing to not accept classified gun ads. "We hope more newspapers follow suit and close the newspaper gun ad loophole," said Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

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