Monday, January 28, 2013

Carrying A Semi-Automatic Rifle in Virginia Is Legal. So Is This A Story?

A man walked into a grocery store in Virginia over the weekend and he was carrying an AR-15 rifle, like the one above. A few people called the police, who were dispatched to the scene.

The police spoke to the man but he was not arrested. He was not breaking any laws - he legally owns the gun and it was not concealed.

Is this a news story?

A few outlets covered the episode. One news organization chose not to. What would you have done?

13 comments:

Ciara Murphy said...

I would have chosen to cover the story. For one, it is very interesting and will draw a large audience. Secondly, gun issues are highly relevant at this moment. It would be a journalists job to report this story because it shows an alternative perspective to the issue. What is typically reported is the dangerous nature of weapons and how horrific people are the people that own guns. Rather than forcing an opinion down your audiences throat by only reporting stories that favor high gun control, a responsible journalist, I believe, would report on both sides of the issue so that their audience could form their own opinion.

Chris said...

The thought of drawing a large audience shouldn't influence whether a story is newsworthy. News gets reported when people with guns do bad things. News does not get reported when people with guns are carrying guns harmlessly. As a simple event-coverage story, I still do not think this situation would be worth a mention. A portion of the viewing audience wants to be scared and react to this story, and it is not the job of a news agency to feed that hunger with a story so (in)significant. However, I do think it could be expanded into a larger story if people used this incident to effort a change in the law. But that's not happening.

Marnice Davis said...

While mass tragic gun violences in public facilities are still fresh in our minds, a story with a man openly displaying a riffle at a grocery store is absolutely worthy of "news". Despite a license to carry a weapon, the public still wants to know what the cause was behind this act. Above all, the main question would be, how and why did this man get away with bringing such a weapon into a grocery store? All you need is one person to obnoxiously carry a riffle into a public area without a consequence before others follow. Open display of weapons can cause others to misuse their weapons. It is important that the news uses a story like this as an example to show the world that no matter what a certificate or license permits, weapons belong in a certain place at a certain time and places like the grocery store does not fall under that category.

MJ Moyer-Fittipaldi said...

I do believe this story is extremely important to publish. In the news we never hear of people handling weapons properly. This Virginia man showed the community that guns are not the enemy; it’s the people that misuse and mishandle them. The news never has stories about how guns can save lives when a responsible owner is legally carrying their weapon in a public place. This story deserves to be published to prove that not all people with guns are going to go crazy and shoot at everything they see.

Erin Martin said...

The subject of gun control is most definitely a newsworthy story. In this case, it shows an example of an ordinary citizen exercising his right to carry his weapon. A little over the top? I'd say yes. Because he had such a large weapon on his person instead of a small pistol or something, it frightened the public...which is another aspect that I believe makes it newsworthy. It affected not only the people around him, but got a few networks to cover the story on TV. Personally, I would cover this story and tie it into the hot topic of gun control laws. Perhaps people shouldn't be carrying semi or fully automatic assault rifles, but we'll let the South be the South.

Melissa Martin said...

This story gets its newsworthiness because of the significant events that have just occurred recently and the popular debate of gun control. I believe that it was nice to see a story about a man carrying the weapon that he was allowed to own and being responsible with it. That being said, I also believe that it may have not been the best idea to carry it around in a grocery store. Guns are still dangerous and should not be carried around carelessly. With the tragic current events that have just occurred and the large debate over gun control this story becomes newsworthy. Had the recent events at New Hope not occurred to spark this big gun control debate I believe this story would not be newsworthy at all.

Carlypaigevh said...

I deffinitly would want to know about this if I was living in that area. Especially learning that it is legal to carry a gun on you in the state of Virginia. I and many others would of never known that was actually not a crime. Where is the line drawn? Obviously he was trying to get attention and cause a scene, now the question is should there be actions taken being that that is a legal action?

Nicole Bonghi said...

I think this is a news story because the action falls under the category of a rare, (almost) life threatening occurrence. Although it's legal to carry a weapon of such a nature in the location (Virginia), the fact that someone walked into a grocery store (typically a family friendly venue that serves a community) casually carrying one is indeed alarming. It would've been different if he was present in a shooting range or place of similar orient with the rifle because the area would be appropriate to possess a gun in. I also feel that this received so much attention/coverage because of the recent stories regarding shootings (Sandy Hook, etc), gun control debates, and the NRA overall.

Kandes said...

I absolutely would have covered this story. Not only does it bring the news in an interesting way, it also covers a few newsworthiness criteria such as timeliness, unusualness, controversy, and relevance. There is a big gun law debate happening so this story brings an interesting angle that can easily tie into a larger picture. It is very peculiar for someone to bring a semi-automatic rifle to a grocery store and it is justifiably off-putting to a lot of people. I think it is an excellent story, especially if it brings light to a larger issue.

Austin Sgro said...

This is definitely a story I would cover. I believe it would go into the categories of unusualness ad human interest for the newsworthy criteria. Most people would assume that it is illegal to carry AR-15 rifle in public. I find it very interesting that in today's society that it is legal to do so. It is very unusual to see someone walking around a grocery store or anywhere actually with a rifle in their hands.

Julian Gross said...

I would have covered the story just because of the relevance to the controversial gun control debate. Also, this is an unusual story. People carry weapons all the time, but its usually the typical handgun, which is concealed by law. This of course is an AK-47 a much larger and unusual item to be sporting in a grocery store. It's also interesting that the gun story had nothing to do with murder or casualties so it adds a different angle to the news.

John Lolley said...

This story without a doubt is newsworthy with the current gun debate between law makers and gun owners. The second amendments to the constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. So any time there is a potential for that right to be... modified or restricted, it is an important topic.

Stephanie Dykyj said...

This is absolutely a news story. Though this man had not been breaking the law in any way, he was carrying a potentially lethal weapon. Even being in the vicinity of someone with this kind of weapon is sure to instill fear for lives. Gun laws have been a hot topic for a very long time. Is it safe to let any Average Joe carry an AR-15 around his community? How do we know this person is mentally stable, or what his/her intentions are with this rifle? This article certainly fuels the fire under this ongoing issue, and I believe it is causing even more pressure to make a decision on whether or not to restrict these weapons.