The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a prominent gun rights group, is calling for an investigation into whether the producers of Under the Gun violated laws governing interstate firearm sales.
According to Under the Gun director Stephanie Soechtig in a February interview first unearthed by the website Ammoland, a producer who resided in Colorado was sent to Arizona to purchase a rifle and three handguns from private sellers in the state.
“We sent a producer out and he was from Colorado, he went to Arizona and he was able to buy a Bushmaster and then three other pistols without a background check in a matter of four hours,” Soechtig told The Lip TV. “And that’s perfectly legal.”
The gun group said the footage, which was included in the documentary, appears to show the illegal transfer of firearms to the producer.
“It would appear that a producer of the Katie Couric documentary ‘Under the Gun’ committed at least four federal felonies, one for each firearm he appears to have illegally purchased since the individual was not a resident of Arizona where he purchased the firearms. He may have also violated state criminal statutes,” the group said in a Friday statement.
The group called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “to open a criminal investigation” into the incident.
When contacted for comment, an ATF spokesperson said the bureau was aware of the incident but had not decided whether to investigate it.
“ATF is aware of the allegations, however, the outcome of the private sale in question is unclear and it is not evident if a violation occurred,” said Dillon McConnell, the spokesman. “In the event that an investigation is initiated, as a matter of policy, ATF does not comment on or acknowledge ongoing investigations.”
Legal interstate firearms sales require the involvement of a licensed dealer and a background check in the purchaser’s home state, according to documentation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“Under Federal law, an unlicensed individual is prohibited from transferring a firearm to an individual who does not reside in the State where the transferee resides,” ATF guidance on the matter says. “Generally, for a person to lawfully transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of State, the firearm must be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) within the recipient’s State of residence. He or she may then receive the firearm from the FFL upon completion of an ATF Form 4473 and a NICS background check.”
The gun group’s call for an investigation into Under the Gun is the latest controversy for the documentary. It comes on the heels of evidence that the Katie Couric-helmed documentary deceptively edited an interview with Virginia gun activists so they appeared stumped by one of Couric’s questions. Raw audio of the interview showed that the activists immediately provided answers to the question.
Media outlets from across the country and political spectrum have criticized the edit.
Requests for comment from the film’s production company, Atlas Films, were not returned.