Media Blame Gun Store, eBay In Wake of Va. Tech Shootings

April 25th, 2007 4:38 PM

Following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the media found someone other than Seing-Hui Cho to blame -- legal businesses like Roanoke Firearms, Glock and eBay.

Roanoke Firearms' owner John Markell was treated as an accomplice to the horrific crime by ABC's Brian Ross:

“The Roanoke Firearms store where Seing-Hui Cho bought his murder weapon has a history of selling guns involved in murders. It is the fifth time a gun sold in this store has been used in a homicide, according to gun shop owner, John Markell,” said Ross on the April 18 “Good Morning America.”

and CBS "Evening News":

“Roanoke Firearms sells about 2,500 guns a year, and this isn’t the first time his guns have been linked to crime,” said Armen Keteyian. The CBS reporter cited ATF records that link 32 guns “to purchases from the Roanoke store” between 1999 and 2003. That would be less than 0.27 percent of all the guns sold at the Roanoke shop.

The backlash against Markell was so severe that he received death threats and had to shut down the store's Web site for a few days. He went on the April 18 "Larry King Live" to defend himself.

“The fact is, until he stepped on the campus with his weapons, everything about Cho’s purchase of those two guns was entirely legal under current U.S. and Virginia laws. And some say, Diane, that’s the scandal,” concluded Ross.

The Roanoke Firearms Web site includes a reminder of that: “One individual bears the responsibility for the heinous acts committed at Virginia Tech, and that is Cho Seung-Hui.”

Overall, the media had trouble remembering that one person is responsible for the 32 innocent lives ended at Virginia Tech.

CBS reporter Erin Moriarty punctuated her April 17 "48 Hours" report with anti-gun comments from a New Jersey Sheriff who called them "instruments of death."

All of the media finger-pointing was used to leverage the horrific event into a commentary on gun control. Ross called Virginia's gun laws "lax" and "the scandal" on April 18.

Dick's Sporting Goods, The Gun Source, an online firearms store, and eBay were also implicated in reports.

Gun makers Glock and Walther were blamed by Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" April 18. Sawyer stated, "We're gonna be telling you more about the lives those guns took later on in the broadcast."