Recent Reporting By Star Tribune Demonstrates How Reporters Can Include Firearm’s Make, Model and Origin in Coverage to Increase Accountability for Gun Industry and Lawmakers
Crime reporting often talks about shootings in the abstract, but gun manufacturers and sellers contribute to our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Understanding who is manufacturing crime guns, which firearms are used most frequently in crimes, and how those guns ended up in the hands of a shooter is essential context for readers and provides insight into the nature and scope of the gun violence crisis.
Reporting by Stephen Montemayor for the Star Tribune demonstrates how journalists can #namethegun to create a more complete and accurate story when covering gun crime. In his piece “The Life of a Gun,” published on July 14,, Montemayor maps the road of a crime gun used at a 2021 St. Paul mass shooting at Truck Park bar. The gun used in the mass shooting was a Mossberg MC2c pistol, which traveled from the Rio Grande town of Eagle Pass in Texas, to a licensed gun dealer, Fleet Farm, before being sold to a straw purchaser and entering the black market, on its way to being used in the shooting.
Accurately reporting the gun used and manufacturer doesn’t take any more than a few words (e.g., “The shooter, who used a Mossberg MC2c pistol, was…”). Including this fact when covering gun violence and crime will greatly benefit the public’s understanding of the ecosystem of businesses and business practices that supply the dangerous weapons.
Montemayor’s inclusion of the firearm’s origin also helps show how weak gun laws in states continue to impact gun violence across the nation. While Minnesota has decent gun safety laws, Texas has some of the weakest laws in the country. Texas is a haven of gun manufacturing – the state even chipped in $300,000 toward the Mossberg firearms company’s last expansion.
Montemayor also documented the gun store’s role in the mass shooting tragedy. A single straw purchaser bought 33 guns knowing that they were destined for illegal use and, incredibly, two dozen of the guns, including the one used in a mass shooting, were purchased at Fleet Farm stores in Blaine and Lakeville Minnesota. “Surveillance cameras and sales clerks sometimes observed him on the phone, debating what to buy with others who waited outside the store.” Gun stores can take simple steps to prevent straw purchasing and other illegal diversion of firearms.