by Lee Williams When the mainstream media screws up a gun-related story, I’ll usually fire off some slings, arrows and snark from afar. This time, however, I had a ringside seat. This strange tale began when a young reporter at a rival newspaper in our area got her hands on an incident report from the Manatee County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office . . .
According to the report, several employees from Goodwill Manasota were shocked when they discovered a “loaded grenade launcher” inside a box of donated items.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Keller was dispatched to the store, where she was met by the manager, Lekesha Dunbar.
“I observed a grenade launcher while in her office that did have a grenade inside that had not yet been fired,” Keller wrote in her report. “I was able to remove the grenade from the launcher.”
The deputy turned over the launcher to her agency’s property division, and put the grenade in a hazardous materials locker.
Without doing any substantive research, the young reporter wrote: “Goodwill employees discovered a grenade launcher, loaded with a live grenade, this past weekend in a load of items donated at a Bradenton store, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.”
The photo her paper used with the story shows a Ukrainian solder firing a (real) grenade launcher mounted under the barrel of an AK-74. What that picture has to do with the Goodwill story is something I’ll never understand.
Of course the Associated Press circulated the story to all their members, including my newspaper, which prompted an early-morning text from my boss.
“Do we have this?” he wrote, somewhat concerned.
I’d bet my life it was a toy Airsoft replica or a Nerf gun, I told him.
A few minutes later, after the good folks at Goodwill sent me a picture of the “grenade launcher,” my suspicions were confirmed.
The device is a toy Airsoft replica of the military’s M203 grenade launcher, I wrote in my story. It was made by ICS Airsoft in Taiwan.
My newspaper published my story, which revealed that the “loaded grenade launcher” was really just a toy.
You would think that would have ended all the drama, but you’d be wrong . . .
Once the mainstream media gets energized about a gun-related story — even if the facts are completely wrong — there is no stopping them.
Newsweek published the young reporter’s original story — the wrong one — with a picture of some poor woman in a gun shop holding an inert Soviet RPG.
Technically, I suppose, an RPG is a grenade launcher of sorts, even though it’s anti-armor projectiles are propelled by a rocket.
The New York Post continued with the Warsaw-Pact theme. They published the wrong story with a picture of a Ukrainian Fort 600A grenade launcher.
Russia Today — RT — used a picture of a six-barrel grenade launcher when they ran the AP version of the fictional story.
Making matters worse — and far sillier — the young reporter who had started this whole mess evidently realized her mistake and decided she needed to correct her original story a bit. But instead of doing the right thing and issuing a correction, she wrote another story titled: “A few more details about that grenade launcher found at Goodwill.”
Yep. A few more details indeed.
She admitted it was an Airsoft launcher, but added “like those used in military simulations …”
Now, I’ve been in the military and I’m somewhat familiar with modern training methods.
As far as I know, the military doesn’t use Airsoft toys.
If I’m wrong — if there’s some secret, high-speed, Tier One-type unit training with Airsoft guns — please let me know and I’ll issue a correction — a real one.
As you read this, this strange story — the wrong one — is rebounding around the internet.
The fact that none of these mainstream media organizations care enough to correct the story just reinforces something I’ve known for a long time: When a story is gun-related, the facts simply don’t matter.
Journalists have a green light to make errors in any story involving guns. If someone points out their error, they’re lumped into the “gun nut” category by most reporters and editors and not taken seriously.
I know of no other industry or community of souls that has to put up with such nonsense and second-class treatment from the media.
It’s a sad state of affairs.
This “loaded grenade launcher” debacle is just the latest in a long line of screw ups by the mainstream media.
I’m sure more are on the way.
Reprinted with permission of The Gun Writer.