Previous Post
Next Post

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.

Mainstream Media’s Latest “Chainsaw Bayonet” Fake News

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.

Mainstream Media’s Latest “Chainsaw Bayonet” Fake News

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.

Mainstream Media’s Latest “Chainsaw Bayonet” Fake News

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.

Mainstream Media’s Latest “Chainsaw Bayonet” Fake News

Russia Today — RT — used a picture of a six-barrel grenade launcher when they ran the AP version of the fictional story.

Mainstream Media’s Latest “Chainsaw Bayonet” Fake News

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.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Dave Bristow said he would not call it a toy

    “I am happy it’s off the streets but it never made it to the floor.”

  2. We don’t use Airsoft toys in the military. This is true. Can’t afford the licensing fees for brand names toys. We have to use Ethersoft and Airsmooth.

    I think only the Tier 1 units can afford brand name Airsoft simulators.

  3. With regard to the “military simulation” thing: It’s probably another mistake, in this case on both the part of the original journalist and also on the part of Mr. Boch.

    There are people who take AirSoft very, very seriously. Full kit here. I’m talking plate carriers, radios, NODS etc… I mean these dudes spend thousands on their gear. They’ll go buy $700 chest rigs from Mayflower Research & Consulting FFS.

    When taken to this extreme the activity is often called “milsim” or “mil sim”. That is, military simulation.

    That’s likely the way the term was being used and the original reporter didn’t understand the meaning or used the term casually without explanation.

    • Well said, and you’re correct. At the top end of milsim, there are several organizations in the US who host any number of annual games, often held on actual military bases, that draw hundreds of players from all over the country and occasionally beyond. They also tend to have a non-trivial number of players who are former military or active law enforcement, including a handful of actual combat veterans (intentionally or not, those are the folks who usually end up directing the tactics, at least at the squad and platoon levels). It’s a lot of fun

  4. News today is sensationalism, not journalism. Facts take a back seat to the need for viewership every day of the week. Its pretty bad when the national enquirer and TMZ are more factual than CNN, NYT, FOX, USAT, Huffpo, Politico, and so many other once well respected news organizations.

  5. What makes you think journalists are especially inept when writing about firearms? They get lots of other stuff wrong, too. Like most people, journalists are competent in a few fields but incompetent otherwise. Unfortunately for the subjects of their stories, it’s their job to write whether they are competent or not. I do agree that the least they could do is check with their sources for factual accuracy. They are either too rushed or too lazy to do that.

    One core competency of any journalist writing in the United States should be English composition. I see errors in spelling, grammar and word usage with dismaying frequency. Too many of them write at the level of high school dropouts.

    • Hey now, I’m a High school drop out and even I can write better than some of those media hacks. However I did obtain my GED within six months of dropping out of the 9th grade; three month after that I found a part time job While going to a Technical college.
      I received my Certification as my High school class was graduating and entered a skilled career field four years before the rest of my class. IMO High school is B.S. for the most part. I’m just an average blue collar Joe.

      • You’re the opposite of a dropout. You did the smart thing and opted out — of high school, but not out of education. I don’t doubt that you’re better for it.

      • High school is b.s. The traditional education system is highly overrated.

        If I went back in time and was sixteen (the age at which one may drop our of high school when I was 16) again, I would drop out of high school, be retired by 35 at the latest, and easily making 50-150K a year off investments.

    • When I was a technical writer for Microsoft, I got in trouble if I wrote to a level higher than 8th grade reading comprehension. “But,” I’d respond, “I’m writing for an audience of software consultants, many with specialized degrees in IT, etc.” No matter – everything had to be written to the same, very low, standard.

  6. ‘When a story is gun-related, the facts simply don’t matter.’

    What makes you think this problem is limited to gun-related stories. (Try googling ‘Republican Tax Cuts’.)

  7. Journalists are not subject matter experts and rarely know much about what they report. I’ve worked for years in medical research and and the inaccuracies, even when attempting to be correct, are just as bad there. Cherrypicking and sensationalism are normal. My motto has become “Distrust, but verify”

  8. My unit used sim rounds once, and only once. Cost prohibitive and cleaning the gear was a disaster, some of that paint stuck on for most of the workup. Like wise with a platoon trip to a paintball field, it was alright, but a one time thing, although I would like to see more paintball training in the grunts.

    Better yet, I would rather we used less-lethal projectiles while training and it would reinforce some basic concepts like don’t stick your femoral artery off the edge of building corner, or how stupid buddy rushes are and how quickly your ass will get lit up flopping prone in the middle of an open field.

  9. I would not call OH NOES a high school drop out either. I would call him very smart. he got out and away of all the liberal BS that high school has and got a degree before anyone else. I wish I did that. but I stayed in high school and read all the stupid short stories and did all that other BS that did nothing for me in the real world. and I had to put up with there liberal BS. school, colledge, it is all liberal BS and it just fills the kids heads with BS. and that is what is wrong with our country.

  10. The problem is local papers and media outlets are not staffed with experienced journalist anymore. At best they are high school graduates with some college folks sprinkled around who are assigned to research news stories from police press releases, which they screw that up even.

    I was talking with my long time friend and retired lawyer about the local newspaper here in Spokane, the Spokesman Review. I mentioned that every time I read a story that I have first hand knowledge of, the papers version is completely wrong. Every SINGLE TIME. My lawyer told me that he had just told one of his friends that EXACT same thing I had said, that every time he has first hand knowledge, the papers version is wrong.

    One has to wonder how many more of the articles and stories I read are inaccurate.
    I’d never in a million years give that lamestream media outlet my money, so I just skim the online version.

    The Spokesman Review is very anti-gun and I have really lambasted them multiple times with online comments on stories which they were a little sensitive about. Now they don’t have online comments.

    What a pathetic excuse for a media source.
    I cannot imagine the problems at the S-R are by any means isolated, but rather a rampant common problem experienced throughout the industry. Newspapers are hanging on by threads. They are a dying breed soon to be extinct. In my view, sooner the better.

  11. When it come to news media, honesty and accuracy are not what the media outlets are there for.
    They are there to sell advertising. It’s how they make money for the owners. (Just like the auto business sells cars to make money for the owners, not to provide transportation to anybody.)
    If it’s easier and faster to make money by passing off shoddy workmanship, and still make enough money to stay in business, that’s what they will do.
    Altruism simply isn’t involved in the mix.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here