WashPost's Erroneous Caption: Gun Buyers 'Disrupted' Tucson Police Gun Buyback

"On Tuesday is Tucson, a gun-buyback effort was disrupted by buyers who offered cash to those who came to trade arms for gift certificates." That's the caption the Washington Post ran to an Associated Press photo on page A3 of the January 9 print edition. The photo [embedded below the page break] was plastered above the headline for an unrelated story about former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and husband Mark Kelly's new pro-gun control initiative.

But did the presence of legal gun purchasers really "disrupt" the Tucson police gun buyback program? If it did, it's news to the Arizona Daily Star, which reported no violent incident or other disturbance resulting from the peaceful protest/gun purchasing:


About 200 guns were turned over in exchange for grocery store gift cards at this morning’s gun buyback event.

The effort, led by Councilman Steve Kozachik, began at 9 a.m. this morning at the Tucson Police Department’s Patrick K. Hardesty Substation, 1100 S. Alvernon Way.

Two hundred Safeway gift cards worth $50 each were given away at the event.

Former state senator Frank Antenori led a counter effort, offering residents cash for their weapons.

Antenori estimated about 30 guns were purchased by his supporters at the event.

The majority of the guns brought were shotguns and rifles and a couple of pistols.

TPD ran the serial numbers of the weapons to make sure they were not stolen or used in any crimes. A different person checked guns purchased through Antenori’s effort.

The guns exchanged for the gift cards, that haven’t been used in crimes, have already been destroyed.

The collected firearms were destroyed Tuesday afternoon, said Sgt. Maria Hawke, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman. The guns were shredded by a private company, Hawke said.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "disrupt" thusly:

1
a : to break apart : rupture
b : to throw into disorder <agitators trying to disrupt the meeting>
2
: to interrupt the normal course or unity of

The gun buyback was more successful than the counter-demonstration of private purchasers, and nothing in the Star article suggests the buyback was thrown into disorder. One might argue the "normal course or unity of" the buyback was interrupted by the presence of a legal alternative -- purchasers willing to buy unwanted guns off those in line to get a $50 gift card -- but that is quite the stretch too.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters