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Me and My AK-47....A journo goes gun shopping

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by hillbilly, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. hillbilly

    hillbilly Well-Known Member

    Jul 10, 2003
    Here's the link and story.

    Below that is the email I just sent her.



    Me & my AK-47
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    Josie Roberts
    James Knox/Tribune-Review

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    By Josie Roberts
    Tuesday, March 29, 2005
    A 20-something female walks into a gun shop, wearing a pink sweater and pearls, and asks to buy an AK-47. Half-dozen men, several in flannel, look up from the rows of gun displays.

    They had holsters. She had heels.

    I knew I looked out of place at a gun store, but I wanted to see how difficult it would be to buy an assault weapon in Pittsburgh, just days after Keith “Spud†Watts Jr. was murdered with an AK-47 knock-off outside Carrick High School.

    I went alone to Firearms Unlimited in Bridgeville two days after the shooting.

    I parked in back of the wooden-paneled shop, built into the side of a hill off Route 50 and rang the doorbell to gain entrance. Inside, it was packed. A hundred rifles lined the walls where glass cases of handguns didn’t.

    Manager Randy Canella looked up from a sale and asked if I needed any help. “I’m looking for a long gun,†I said. “I want an AK-47.â€

    Canella took a drag of his cigarette.

    “I have some in back,†he said. “I’ll be with you in a minute.†He brought out three models and set them on the counter. I stood with crossed arms while he explained the guns’ features, rotating them on their sides and pointing out the magazine. I tried not to flinch.

    Canella finally asked, “Why do you want this gun?â€

    I answered, “Why not?â€

    The men in the store laughed, and I asked how to load the bullets.

    The Romanian Century Arms, WASR-10, 7.62-x-39 mm rifle was the cheapest at $389.95, or $422.25 after tax. It was a clone, like most AK-47s in America. The first President Bush made it illegal to import the Russian and Chinese military models. The knock-offs look like AK-47s, fire like AK-47s and are very accurate at short distances. I said I’d take it.

    Canella stopped me.

    “I don’t mean to be nosy, but if you want a gun for self-protection, a shotgun would be better,†he said, assuming that’s the only reason for this blonde in a twin sweater set to need an AK-47. “It’s easier to load for people who aren’t familiar with firing a gun, and it does a lot of damage.â€

    “My dad recommended this model,†I said, searching for an excuse.

    Except for a possible stray bullet in the chamber, I shouldn’t have been worried. In America, it’s legal to buy guns.

    Even this one, a semiautomatic rifle developed for Soviets tank crews to kill from a mile away. Joe Dominick, Allegheny County’s chief deputy coroner, said shots from an AK-47 inflict trauma all over the body. The bullet can blow through several body parts, cutting through a hand to the torso through the other hand. And rarely is an AK-47 fired just once. At least eight shots were fired at Watts’ Geo Tracker.

    Under Pennsylvania law, gun shops can sell a rifle to anybody 18 or older from any state with no criminal record. An AK-47 is a rifle, and I could purchase it on the spot. I didn’t need a reason or even a gun permit.

    But there was a catch. As a new resident in Pennsylvania, I did not have a driver’s license from the state. I thought my U.S. passport would be sufficient to buy a rifle, but Canella disagreed. He wanted a government-issued photo ID with my present address and sent me across the street to the Driver’s License Center.

    I waited four days for New York State to fax a transcript of my driving record to PennDOT. With my new driver’s license in hand, I went back to Firearms Unlimited last Tuesday. Cop cars blocked several stalls when I pulled into the parking lot. Three people were being questioned. A woman had her hands behind her back. A violent crime impact team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was investigating a possible straw purchase, when a person with a clean record buys firearms for convicted criminals. I left the engine running for a second and hesitated to unlock the doors. I was the only one not armed.

    But I was here to pick up my AK-47. I sidestepped the commotion and climbed the rickety stairs to the entrance.

    “I don’t have to sell anybody a gun I don’t want to, and I don’t have to have a reason,†Canella said when I got inside. “It’s more gut than anything else. It’s a major concern for us, and it’s a duty.â€

    He recognized me, “the AK-47 girl,†and tried to steer me toward the shotgun again. “If you were my wife, daughter or sister, I would tell you to get a shotgun, but if your mind’s made up, your mind’s made up,†he said. “It’s my job to advise, but you make the decision.â€

    I had to fill out a federal form with my basic information and answer 13 easy questions about whether or not I was a fugitive, had mental illnesses or was an illegal alien. The store called Instacheck, a state program that surveys police records, and assigned me an approval number within five minutes. Instacheck replaced the former, mandatory five-day waiting period and the state police have found approximately 60 percent of individuals trying to buy a gun can be approved instantly. Firearms Unlimited owner Robert Carola guessed that number is closer to 95 percent.

    Police do not know how the gun used to kill Watts was obtained. Derwin Milligan, 17, of Climax Street in Beltzhoover has been charged with criminal homicide in the death, and is not old enough to purchase a firearm legally. The murder weapon has not been found yet, police said.

    I did not buy any bullets. I did not want to have any rounds lying around when I didn’t even know how to load a gun; I told Canella I wanted to wait until after I took the gun safety course he recommended. He was proud. A poster on the entranceway advertises National Rifle Association training courses. I ripped off one of the slips of paper with the Web site address, www.safe-tee.net. Carola said he takes pride in selling guns to “upstanding citizens†for sport or self protection.

    Firearms Unlimited followed all of the laws. Canella even cajoled me into a four-day wait period while I applied for the Pennsylvania driver’s license.

    I had entered the store at 1:22 p.m. Store clerk Brandon Moore loaded the gun into my trunk at 2:22 p.m. The actual purchase took an hour because of cash register technicalities.

    Six days after Watts was murdered, four days after I applied for a driver’s license, one hour after entering the store and five minutes after a criminal record check, I legally owned a semiautomatic AK-47-style rifle.

    Josie Roberts can be reached at jroberts@tribweb.com or (412) 380-5609.

    And, here's the email I sent to her.

    I just read your piece on buying a semi-auto AK-47 clone rifle.

    First, you got some bad info about that type of rifle.

    It is not designed to "kill at a mile" as you wrote.

    While the bullet may still have enough energy at a mile away to kill a
    person, should it hit him or her in the head, good luck hitting anything at
    a mile, much less seeing anything to shoot at at a mile.

    I am an NRA and Arkansas State police certified firearms instructor. I'm
    even a rifle coach for college club team. With your AK-47 clone, you could
    probably, maybe, if you took careful aim, be able to hit rather large
    targets at 300 yards with it. But as you did write in your story, it is
    meant for rather short-range shooting.

    Second, this may surprise you, but that rifle you bought is at best only a
    medium-powered member of the rifle world.

    Check out some ballistics information, available all over the internet, and
    compare the energy, velocity, and effective range of the 7.62X39 to the
    30-06, one of the most popular deer hunting cartridges out there.

    Then, compare that 7.62X39 to something like the .300 Winchester Magnum.
    There are even bigger, more powerful cartridges our there like the .338
    Lapua Magnum, for example.

    Third, I've read and re-read your piece, and I hate to say it, but I'm not
    sure what your point is, especially in the last graph of your story.

    You went through the legal, government-mandated, highly-regulated process
    required for a firearms purchase from a licensed dealer. You don't have a
    criminal background, thus you were able to legally buy a legal product.

    To make my point, your last paragraph may have well read like this:

    "Six days after Jones drunkenly plowed into a school bus full of children,
    four days after I applied for a driver’s license, and five minutes after
    walking into a liquor store, I legally owned a full case of beer."

    Fourth and finally..........

    I sincerely hope you actually go take that NRA safety course and then buy
    some ammo for your WASR-10. (I think the WASR-10 was the cheapest because it is designed to accept only 10-round magazines. You will want at least a couple of those, too.)

    Then, after taking your NRA safety course, and buying some ammo, I hope you take that WASR-10 to a range and actually shoot it.

    If you were close enough, I'd offer to give you your NRA safety course for
    free, and let you use my own backyard range.

    But I think Arkansas is a bit far away from Pittsburgh.
  2. VTKFJoe

    VTKFJoe Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2004
    Nice response.

    I too find it hard to see what her point is. Not only was she initally unable to make the purchase because she did not have proper id (she said she was cajoled - funny) but she also saw the BATFE investigating a straw purchase/making an arrest.

    Intersting story, I guess, but it seems like weak journalism.

    "Six days after Jones drunkenly plowed into a school bus full of children,
    four days after I applied for a driver’s license, and five minutes after
    walking into a liquor store, I legally owned a full case of beer."
    and without even needing a reason having to get a permit.

  3. RoyG

    RoyG Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2004
    Once upon a time a town called Rabbit Hash
    I don't understand the point of her story also.

    She neglected to comment how long she had been living in PA. PA requires you to have a PA Driver’s License within 60 days of establishing Pennsylvania residency.

    She pretty much just proved she was over 18, not a felon and not wanted for any criminal charges.
  4. big inch

    big inch Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2005
    Jackson, TN
    It sounds like she was describing a properly working system to me. :confused:

    BTW, I bought my Romanian AK-47 on my lunch break. :uhoh: And, I have enjoyed every round out of it so far. :D
  5. RoyG

    RoyG Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2004
    Once upon a time a town called Rabbit Hash
    A couple of more comments...

    I guess she was going to try reloading also.

    How responsible of her. You never know when those rounds are going to sneak in the chamber and then just start assaulting people in their sleep.

    She didn't want to have any rounds just lying around? Well I guess it's ok to just have the rifle lying around. I see no mention of any type of a gun lock(which I hate) or a place to securely store it.
  6. MikeB

    MikeB Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2003
    Northeast PA
    Such irresponsible reporting of false information if not the reporting of outright lies, is a clear indication that we need to license and do background checks on reporters. A waiting period where the information being reported is checked for accuracy should also be required. Obviously in the heat of the moment of meeting deadlines reporters don't have the time required to reflect on their choice of words for accuracy.
  7. HankL

    HankL Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    The Sunny South
    It would be great if she took the course and got a big ole smile on her face when firing her new rifle. I've seen it happen.
  8. RoyG

    RoyG Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2004
    Once upon a time a town called Rabbit Hash
    Here's a thought for you...

    If she used an advance from the paper or expensed it would/could this be considered a straw purchase?
  9. grnzbra

    grnzbra Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Northern Virginia
    People, she doesn't care.

    She's obvioulsy a Michael Moore wannabe.
  10. TechBrute

    TechBrute Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2003
    DFW, TX
    I, for one, am happy to see that there are journalists out there making sure that we law-abiding citizens still have our rights.

    I think I'll send her an email that asks her if there's some reason she shouldn't be able to buy a gun. If she says yes, I'll point out that you can voluntarily not buy guns.
  11. AK-74me

    AK-74me Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2005
    I couldn't tell if she was a gun supporter or anti. until it was all said and done, it was terrrible reporting not even including the misinformation.

    "Allegheny County’s chief deputy coroner, said shots from an AK-47 inflict trauma all over the body. The bullet can blow through several body parts, cutting through a hand to the torso through the other hand."

    This is one of the best ones I've heard so far, so let me get that straight. It goes in say your right middle finger, through your hand, and up your arm entering your torso, back through your left arm into the left hand and out the left middle finger? How the F could that be feasible to anyone?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2005
  12. Vitamin G

    Vitamin G Well-Known Member

    Aug 9, 2003
    Monroeville, PA (Home of the Zombies)
    Thats kinda odd...

    Tribune-Review is the Pittsburgh Conservative Paper...
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is the Pittsburgh Socialist Journal...
  13. Beren

    Beren Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 30, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    It really doesn't say much about our chief deputy coroner, unless the reporter lost most of the original context while paraphrasing.
  14. Tinker

    Tinker Well-Known Member

    Apr 20, 2004
    "I stood with crossed arms while he explained the guns’ features, rotating them on their sides and pointing out the magazine. I tried not to flinch."

    I've seen women who'd been programmed from the get-go (public schools and media) who "flinch" when seeing "a gun". I've also seen thes same ladies grin like hell after finally drilling a target's bull. I hope this young lady does go through that NRA safety loop. They might help in the deprogramming.
  15. MikeIsaj

    MikeIsaj Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2005
    North of the City of Brotherly Love, West of The P
    Come on folks, it's not hard to see her point. The problem is, she is doing her job properly. She's reporting the facts of her story and only the facts as represented to her. Does it bother you that she doesn't fit the stereotypical mold? She isn't trying to twist the story to fit her preconception of what it should be. Fair and balanced journalism is what that's called. I can understand the confusion, we don't see much of that anymore.

    Did anyone else e-mail her? I wrote and suggested that she take the safety course, go to the range and fire the weapon. I received a very polite but non-committal reply.
  16. AK-74me

    AK-74me Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2005
    Mike maybe you're right

    I guess thats what it is! But it sure is hard as hell to see where she was going with it, I was just confused about her stance through out the whole piece.
  17. sturmruger

    sturmruger Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    NW, WI
    I Call dibbs on getting a cheap Wasr-10!!!!! I am going to email her right now and see if she is looking to sell it. Then I am going to offer $250 for it.
  18. richyoung

    richyoung Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2004
    lawton, Oklahoma
    My reply to her -

    I recently had the pleasure of reading your article in the Tribune-Review about purchasing an "AK-47". I don't mean to nit-pick, but perhaps you are unaware that the AK-47 is a FULLY automatic assault carbine - that is to say, once the chamber has been loaded, the safety disengaged, and the trigger pulled and HELD BACK, the weapon will continue to fire as long as there are cartridges in the magazine, (or until it jams, which is another story...). Such "fully automatic" firearms have been severely regulated since the National Firearms Act of 1934 - however, even they are not illegal. Any citizen can purchase a legally-owned fully automatic weapon by paying the special $200 transfer tax, whether you are buying a REAL AK-47, or even an M2 .50 machine gun. The arm you bought is "semi-automatic" - it shoots one round each time the trigger is pulled., You have also been sadly misled as to the power of the cartridge it shoots - it is roughly equivalent to the old 30-30 Winchester cartridge. Your new rifle can do no more damage to a person, (or anything else) than "The Rifleman" could with his lever action, and not much faster, either. My Directorate of Civilian Marksmanship M-1 Garand, (which the U.S. Government mailed to me for $225) shoots the more powerful 30-06 round, and like your new purchase, only fires one round with each pull of the trigger. In fact, many ordinary pistols, shotguns, and rifles operate exactly the same way as yours does, including some of the finest imported shotguns. I don't want this to get long-winded, but I would like to take this opportunity to personally offer you any kind of advice or fact-checking related to firearms or weapons of any kind - it would be my pleasure. Please remember, it is the hard heart that kills; the choice of instrument has little to do with it. The murder rate inside prison is ten times that of the population at large, despite the distinct absence of firearms of any kind. I look forward to corresponding with you, and hope you enjoy shooting your new gun - lease approach this purchase, and your fellow gun owners, with an open mind, and I'm sure you will have a good time. Don't forget to wear hearing and eye protection any time you plan to go shoot, and remember the four rules:

    1. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. If anyone hands you a firearm, check it yourself, or have them SHOW you it is unloaded.
    2. Never allow the muzzle (the part that the bullet comes flying out of at the front) to point at anything you aren't willing to kill or destroy.
    3. Do not put your finger inside the trigger guard (the metal loop around the trigger) until your sights are aligned with your intended target and you wish to shoot.
    4. Make certain NOT ONLY that your target is safe to shoot, but also that a safe backstop, (or alternately, nothing and no one) is behind and beyond it.

    Have fun - shoot safe.

    Richard Young
    System Administrator/Opfor Interactor
    Depth & Simultaneous Attack BattleLab
    Fort Sill, Ok
  19. Ed

    Ed Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    There is about a 30 page thread on this on AR15.com. Some guy e-mailed her and posted the story. He then sent her his login and password and asked her to join them in discussion. She gets on about page 12 or so. It is in General discussion. And be warned to those who don't already know the language on there is not the greatest.
  20. George S.

    George S. Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2004
    Western WA
    I had to read this three times before I began to think that this lady is vey much an anti-gun reporter. While she did write a good detailed account of what she had to do to in order to buy her "legally-owned semi-automatic AK-47 style rifle", and how the store owner tried to recommend reasonable alternatives (which seemed to be based on his observation of her), the last paragraphs show her intent.

    Early on in the article, she mentions how a 20 year old was murdered by someone with an AK-47. The last two paragraphs tells everyone how easy it is to go buy one, even with assistance from a gun store owner.

    She also made a point that the rifle used in the murder had not been found and that 17-year old killer could not have legally purchased it.

    Sorry, but IMHO, this is the sort of inflammatory anti-gun articles that will fuel AWB's at every level. I haven't gone over to AR-15.com but I can imagine that she would have gotten hammered on by anyone who saw thru the article.

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