WASHINGTON. D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- An article by Associated Press Reporter, Michael Balsamo, that ran on the same day that the new proposed ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) regulations on unfinished frames and receivers came down said that his source for his article was an “unnamed Justice Official”, but an internal leak called that claim into question?
The report was one of the first articles published by a press organization covering the new proposed regulation. The reporter claimed to get information from a Senior Justice Official that was not authorized to speak to the press.
An email leaked to AmmoLand News calls into question whether the information came from an unnamed source or if it was a provided, approved and coordinated effort by the ATF Public Affairs Division to get a positive spin at the top of the news cycle, through a so-called “journalist”.
The ATF Public Affairs Division Chief April Langwell’s email leaked to AmmoLand News shows links to the Justice Department’s press release and provides instructions on referring media inquiries from news organizations and points out the.
The email also confirms that the ATF gave the AP the exclusive and talking points for the article in question. It brings up the question as to why the AP would claim it need to tap an “unknown source” if the ATF was already providing the news agency with exclusive information about the proposed regulations.
A common tactic used in the government and the industry is to ‘leak’ or grant exclusives access to a friendly journalist to beat what could be negative press. The coverage from Balsamo was generally positive towards the proposed rules and talked about unserialized firearms showing up at crime scenes. Mr. Balsamo, whose Twitter banner pictures him with the ATF shooting an AR15 SBR (short-barreled rifle), also calls the making of unserialized guns a loophole even though Americans have produced them since the founding of our country.
The article also talks about how unfinished firearms and receivers allow prohibited people to possess firearms. Something that is already illegal. Also, it talks about how gang members are using homemade guns but fails to mention that the vast majority of firearms found in possession of criminals are stolen or obtained illegally.
The article also makes the claim on how easy it is to covert a piece of metal into a gun. The author doesn’t seem to have ever completed the long process of constructing a firearm starting from a piece of metal. Speaking to an AmmoLand News source in the ATF that also read the AP article, he states that the writing repeats many of the ATF’s talking points on the new gun parts regulations. However, we have no other evidence that the author used the ATF’s talking points or reached the same conclusion himself.
AmmoLand News does not have a copy of the information the ATF provided to the AP, but we have launched several FOIA requests with the ATF and the DOJ to get all communications between the two agencies and the AP. Once we get a response, we will provide an update to our readers.
When contacted for a comment on the type of information provided to the AP, ATF’s April Langwell referred us to the Department of Justice. AP reporter Mike Balsamo was contacted via email and Twitter. He referred AmmoLand News to Lauren Easton with AP Corporate Communications. Ms. Easton stated the AP would not answer our questions regarding potential fake news being generated by their organization.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.