CNN Touts 'Deep Distrust and Suspicion' of Feds at Virginia Gun Show

On Monday's Anderson Cooper 360, CNN's Gary Tuchman zeroed in on how a "deep distrust and suspicion of the motivations of the federal government" was "extremely prevalent" at the quarterly Nation's Gun Show in northern Virginia. Tuchman hounded the president of the company which runs the event over her view that "the end game with a lot of Democrats is to confiscate" guns. He also questioned two individual gun sellers over the lack of regulations on private sales. [video below]

Host Anderson Cooper reported that "President Obama will discuss executive actions tomorrow morning to curb gun violence," and pointed out that "not everyone agrees with him obviously — some of whom are voting with wallets — buying firearms as if they might not get another chance." During his report, Tuchman first noted that "organizers refer to it as miles of aisles. You can buy guns here from retail booths and from private dealers....And business at what is called the Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly, Virginia is good — so good, the ATM's have run out of money. There are first-time buyers galore."

The correspondent played a clip from his interview of Annette Elliott of Showmasters Gun Shows. Tuchman twice interrupted Elliott, after she revealed her gun confiscation view about Democratic politicians:

GARY TUCHMAN: What do you think the President of the United States really wants to do when it comes to guns?

ANNETTE ELLIOTT, PRESIDENT, SHOWMASTERS GUN SHOWS: Well, I think the end game with a lot of Democrats is to confiscate them. I think that we're the last—

TUCHMAN: Is that — is that what you think?

ELLIOTT: We are afraid of that — sure. I think—

TUCHMAN: Is that what you think the President wants to do, though?

ELLIOTT: Maybe — yeah. I think, maybe, he does.

The CNN journalist clearly doubts that Democrats, including President Obama, would make support such a move. However, less than month earlier, Connecticut's Democratic governor, Dan Malloy, signed an executive order banning those on federal government watch lists from owning firearms in the state (the Big Three networks actually failed to mention the governor's party ID in their reporting of the order). The New York Times also called for outright bans of certain classes of guns in December 2015, and underlined that "yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens."

Tuchman later spotlighted how "opinions are not black and white. There are people here who feel there should be an increase in firearms regulation. But what is extremely prevalent is a deep distrust and suspicion of the motivations of the federal government." Near the end of the segment, he also reported that "many here believe the government needs to be more concerned about mental illness than making it harder to buy a gun. But they are aware things are about to change."

The full transcript of Gary Tuchman's report from the January 4, 2016 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

ANDERSON COOPER: Breaking news tonight: President Obama will discuss executive actions tomorrow morning to curb gun violence. He'll do it from (sic) remarks from the White House. Details came out late today. They include closing the so-called gun show loophole and other steps that he says will stand up to legal scrutiny and be welcomed by most Americans.

[CNN Graphic: "New Details On Obama's Executive Actions On Guns"]

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they're also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people — including gun owners — support and believe in. This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country. It's not going to prevent every mass shooting. It's not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal. It will potentially save lives in this country.

COOPER: That said, not everyone agrees with him obviously — some of whom are voting with wallets — buying firearms as if they might not get another chance.

Over the weekend, our Gary Tuchman spoke to some of them at a big gun show in northern Virginia.

[CNN Graphic: "Pres. Obama To Unveil Executive Actions On Guns Tomorrow"]

GARY TUCHMAN (voice-over): Organizers refer to it as miles of aisles. You can buy guns here from retail booths and from private dealers.

DARYLL FINE, GUN OWNER: I'm selling a Mossberg 12 gauge bolt action.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): How much you're trying to sell it for?

FINE: $200.

TUCHMAN: And this gun is what?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: It's a Mossberg 16 gauge bolt action.

TUCHMAN: And how much you're going to sell it for?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: A hundred-fifty.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And business at what is called the Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly, Virginia is good — so good, the ATM's have run out of money. There are first-time buyers galore.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): What's made your decide to buy a gun?

DEL MARSHA, GUN BUYER: I think it's the possibility that our laws might change, and we're not going to have that ability to protect ourselves.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): President Obama taking executive action on guns has alarmed many of the people here.

Annette Elliott is the president and owner of the company that puts on the show and about 85 others in the U.S. each year.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): What do you think the President of the United States really wants to do when it comes to guns?

ANNETTE ELLIOTT, PRESIDENT, SHOWMASTERS GUN SHOWS: Well, I think the end game with a lot of Democrats is to confiscate them. I think that we're the last—

TUCHMAN: Is that — is that what you think?

ELLIOTT: We are afraid of that — sure. I think—

TUCHMAN: Is that what you think the President wants to do, though?

ELLIOTT: Maybe — yeah. I think, maybe, he does.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Another reason the show is jammed—

ELLIOTT: The ISIS threat has increased business. That immediately increased business.

OWEN YUMANG, GUN BUYER: I used to be a zero gun — you know, guy. But nowadays, you don't even know who your opponents are. You got to be ready.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Opinions are not black and white. There are people here who feel there should be an increase in firearms regulation. But what is extremely prevalent is a deep distrust and suspicion of the motivations of the federal government.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: It's a Winchester 300 short—

TUCHMAN: How much do you want to sell it for?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: Oh, I'm looking about six for it.

TUCHMAN: Six hundred.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: Yeah.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): If you buy a gun from someone in the business of dealing in firearms, federal law requires background checks—

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: And this is the state form. Four and ten is yours — everything between these gray lines—

TUCHMAN: And that's what's happening here. The information is then fed into computers before customers are allowed to buy their guns. Police are present to arrest people when the computer checks indicate criminal violations. But the private dealers are not legally required to conduct background checks.

FINE: I would ask you for a Virginia driver's license. That way, I know you're from within the state.

TUCHMAN: What if I gave you a fake Virginia driver's license? You would never know?

FINE: I would have no idea.

TUCHMAN: Would you trust me? Do I have an honest face? Would you sell it to me?

FINE: I — I'd trust you. You look like you have an honest face.

TUCHMAN: Okay. But — but that being said, sometimes, if you don't think someone has an honest face; if you have a bad vibe, you don't sell it?

FINE: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: You got to — you got to go with your gut instinct.

MILLARD STAHLE, GUN OWNER: This is a competition M1A. It's a civilian version of the M-14.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 5: This is a SD40 VE — Smith and Wesson 40 caliber. It's a lot like a Glock.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jerry Cochran is one of the retailers doing a booming business here.

JERRY COCHRAN, TRADER JERRY'S: We sell any kind of gun — any kind of legal gun you can buy.

TUCHMAN: He is also one of the minority of people here who think things should be more stringent.

COCHRAN: I'm for expanded background checks. I think that a gun — if somebody is engaging in the business, they ought to do a background check. I've done it for 35 years. I've never sold a gun without a background check.

TUCHMAN: Many here believe the government needs to be more concerned about mental illness than making it harder to buy a gun. But they are aware things are about to change.

STAHLER: It's Obama — you know, he wants to do what he thinks is in the best interest of the country. I disagree strongly with him on this issue.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Chantilly, Virginia.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center