A Chicago area “journalist,” Neil Steinberg, tries to buy a rifle in Illinois and his purchase is denied. Steinberg claims the denial occurs because he’s part of the media and therefore gun guys won’t sell to him. The dealer says they denied the purchase because Steinberg has a history of chemical dependency and a documented history of domestic violence. The “Cliff Notes” version is, they are both right.
In his article with the Chicago Sun Times, Steinberg lays out the events that led up to the decision to buy a gun. A classic media stunt even by Steinberg’s own admission, meant to highlight how “easy” it is to do such a thing. Steinberg’s plans went to awry when the gun store called him back the day after he made his purchase saying the sale had been denied and his money returned. After a short while, the dealer said they denied Steinberg’s purchase because of a history of chemical dependence and domestic violence. That’s a pretty serious allegation that Steinberg deflects and never addresses in his article. Instead, he implies the standard the dealer used is unfair yet asserts such a standard should have been applied to the shooter in Orlando.
Such a standard was applied in Orlando. A dealer claiming a man matching the shooter’s description, says they not only denied the man’s intended purchase of a rifle and ammunition, they notified the FBI about it. Nothing happened. He didn’t raise any suspicion with the next dealer and he’d passed the required background checks to be a security guard and a possess license to carry which, in many states, negates the background check phone call at the point of sale. Keep in mind that any dealer can deny a purchase to anyone for any reason. After being denied, Steinberg never entertains the possibility that his own very public past might cause any licensed dealer who knows his name to be resistant to sell anything to him or anyone they reasonably suspect probably shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
The past Steinberg fails to address isn’t exactly some mild, momentary indiscretion. A quick search indicates he once wrote a book called, “Drunkard: “A Hard-Drinking Life,” which is billed on GoodReads.com as, “An extraordinarily honest memoir about the life of a functioning alcoholic and the realities of recovery from a veteran columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.” Not lightweight stuff, folks. So we have a person who admittedly has an chemical dependency issue. It’s one thing to abuse the drug of your choice. Quite another for that to spill into abusing your family.
According to the Chicago Tribune, late one October night in 2005, Steinberg’s wife tried to call the police to make a report of abuse. We don’t know the details of what led her to make that call. But, Steinberg knocked the phone out of her hands with sufficient force to cause minor injuries in an attempt to prevent her from making said call Steinberg’s wife made the call from another phone. As a result, Steinberg was arrested and charged with one count of domestic battery and one count of interfering with the reporting of domestic battery. A month later, his wife apparently went to Cook County prosecutors and said she no longer felt endangered by him. And like that, “Poof!”…the charges were dropped. He was allowed to undergo private counseling/treatment and move on with his life.
Is it possible the dealer just decided they’d rather not give Steinberg ammunition for his story? Sure. But it is also quite likely that, given recent events and the fact this specific man’s arrest for domestic battery made the local news, that they didn’t want to risk being the latest dealer to be lambasted for selling a gun to a man with a “known” history of domestic abuse. Either way, can you really blame them?