Reuters Touts Mayor Bloomberg Fighting 'Illegal Guns,' Skips Over 'Unavailable' NRA

One of the stories prominently featured on the U.S. headlines at Yahoo! News on Thursday was a Reuters story detailing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's newest step in his campaign against gun rights. The headline 'Bloomberg sets sights on illegal gun sales online' implies that online gun sales are already illegal and therefore that Bloomberg is simply trying to make sure the law is followed. 

The next big misstep in this article is its one-sentence dismissal of Bloomberg critics. "The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was not immediately available for comment on the study." Close examination of The National Rifle Association's home page would have revealed  two posts on their home page which deal with Bloomberg and the NYPD and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization. In the first post, which deals with an earlier anti-gun address Bloomberg gave to students at MIT, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre made the observation that "Bloomberg should also remember that a 'ruler' (which is what he seems to think he is) that denies the people of their Right to Keep and Bear Arms while maintaining a large 'army' (the NYPD) is apt to be viewed as a petty tyrant, not a benevolent and wise leader."

In the second post, in which LaPierre deals with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns opposition to a bill which seeks to protect individuals' Right to Carry rights, he had even stronger words for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization: "After their latest shameful attack on the individual liberties of law-abiding Americans, it's clear that "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" isn't an honest name. 'Mayors Against Your Rights,' on the other hand, suits them perfectly. If your mayors belong to this dishonest organization, you need to ask why they've decided that they should be the ones to determine if you get to exercise your fundamental right to self-defense."

In addition to not really looking for statements from the National Rifle Association on Mayor Bloomberg and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization, the statement of listing the National Rifle Association as 'the powerful U.S. gun lobby' implies that the NRA is the only movement which stands up for gun rights despite the existence of several other guns rights movements such as Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation.

Finally, the authors of the article seek to emotionally manipulate their viewers by quoting New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who sought to remind people of how Lee Harvey Oswald purchased the gun with which he killed President Kennedy, through a mail order program and how the outcry resulted in the solution of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

The article, which was published on Reuters and headlined on Yahoo! News' U.S. News section on December 15 unfolded like a press release:

Bloomberg sets sights on illegal gun sales online

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Almost two thirds of a sample of private online gun sellers in the United States were willing to sell a firearm to someone who could not pass a background check, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday.

Bloomberg, who is leading a national campaign against illegal guns, said a national investigation into online gun sales by private investigators hired by New York City uncovered a "vast and largely unregulated market for illegal guns."

The inquiry focused on 10 websites with 25,000 guns to buy and investigators contacted 125 private online gun sellers in 14 states. The investigators, posing as buyers, told sellers they probably would not pass a background check, Bloomberg said.

"When illegal guns can be bought and sold without background checks, tragic and deadly consequences result," Bloomberg said in a statement.

"Over the past decade, we've launched a wide-ranging attack on illegal guns," he said. "We're opening a new front in that battle by targeting what has become an increasingly prevalent and dangerous problem: illegal gun sales on the internet."

Bloomberg is co-chairman of the national coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which he helped found in 2006 in a bid to make cities safer by cracking down on illegal guns.

More than 500 mayors from more than 40 states are now members of Bloomberg's coalition. The group says 30,000 Americans are killed every year by gun violence.

Bloomberg said the city's inquiry into online sales, conducted by investigative firm Kroll, found 62 percent of sellers were willing to commit a felony by selling a firearm to someone who likely wouldn't pass a background check.

The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was not immediately available for comment on the study.

According to the Department of Justice there are more than 4,000 websites that offer guns for sale and about 40 percent of U.S. gun sales are conducted privately.

Licensed sellers are required to conduct background checks, but private sellers are not. However, private sellers are not allowed to sell guns to people they have reason to believe could not pass a background check.

Bloomberg said the private investigators recorded telephone calls with sellers during the investigation and used concealed cameras when meeting with them in person.

The sellers called were in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"When the world learned that Lee Harvey Oswald purchased his weapon through the mail, there was a huge outcry and the Gun Control Act of 1968 regulated the sale of guns through the mail," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

"We shouldn't have to wait for the assassination of a president or the killing of a police officer to dismantle a conduit bringing illicit guns into the city," Kelly said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Greg McCune and Jerry Norton)