A flagrant example of anti-Mormon bigotry has manifested itself on the Detroit News website. On July 22nd, 2012, Detroit News blogger Libby Spencer published a hit piece entitled "The Mormon Church sells unregulated guns" which not only blatantly misrepresents the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but is deliberately inflammatory in tone.
The reason she uses the term "Mormon Church" in her headline is because the KSL Channel 5 website in Salt Lake City runs classified ads which allow individuals to buy and sell handguns and other firearms. She claims that sales can be made without proper background checks and with no questions asked. The ads are in the section entitled "Firearms and Hunting". But because KSL is owned by Deseret Media, one of the corporate arms of the LDS Church, Spencer vaingloriously trumpets the headline "Mormon Church Sells Unregulated Guns". That's an example of slippery-slope reasoning.
At least Libby Spencer included a response by Brett Atkinson, general manager of KSL.com, who believes that the site's mission is merely to bring sellers and buyers together, and who believes the responsibility for the legality of the transaction is that of the parties involved. With each ad for firearms, KSL includes the following tip: "KSL encourages lawful, responsible and safe firearm transactions. Anyone who buys or sells firearms should become familiar with state and federal laws relating to firearm transactions. See our suggestions that you should consider when buying or selling a firearm".
Furthermore, since KSL never actually takes possession of the guns being sold, they do not have the same legal responsibilities as an actual gun dealer. So neither KSL nor the "Mormon Church" are "selling unregulated guns".
But then Spencer complains that gun transactions are different that those involving other commodities simply because guns are specifically designed to kill. Well, that's true; guns are specifically designed to kill. Many people use guns each year to kill wildlife for food or sport, to kill wild predators who attack humans and their domesticated animals, or to kill in self-defense against human predators. However, comparatively few people use guns to commit either first degree or capital murder (the shedding of innocent blood). The average gun buyer will NOT become the next James Holmes.
Libby Spencer gets called out in the comments section:
Erick Kuhni July 22nd 1:15 P.M:
This is absolute nonsense. The "Mormon" Church is not the supplier of guns, rather the KSL ads are simply a public service that allow private citizens to advertise and sell to each other. This kind of reporting is insane.
William Taylor July 22nd 2:15 P.M:
This piece of journalistic drivel is UTTERLY misleading. The writer should be fired. There is NOTHING illegal or unethical about two legal adults selling a gun between themselves. This is COMPLETELY legal. Spencer, you are trash.
Dennis Manning July 22nd 4:15 P.M:
What a joke! Does anyone take this woman and her yellow journalism seriously? You would have to brain dead not to see this for what it is. She's lucky the Church doesn't sue her for libel. Incidently, this is the second time she has posted this foolishness. She should be ashamed of herself for using the tragedy in CO to promote her liberal/secular agenda. Even Obama has more sense than her.
Even someone on the anti-Mormon website Recovery From Mormonism takes issue with Spencer:
The Motrix July 22, 2012 08:09PM:
They aren't breaking any laws there. The story is being a little crooked itself. The statement: "The Mormon Church isn’t just a house of worship, it’s a business too. In fact it’s a huge corporate conglomerate with many commericial subsidiaries, including 'one of the most active and unregulated gun sale websites in America'"
The article makes it sound like this is a website devoted to guns sales, which is completely wrong. KSL.com is a news site with a classified section, one of at least a hundred sections happens to be guns. The church makes no money off this section as an agent or seller, posting the ads are free from private citizen to private citizen, and buyers contact the seller with KSL doing nothing.
The article makes it sound like illegal activity as well. Private citizens can sell guns to private citizens without federal, or any other kind of background check. That's the law.
There are so many things wrong with the church that making up stuff just makes the public leery of any comment about the church. Reporters and others should stick to the facts without sensationalizing, they would have much more credibility.
Libby Spencer has her own personal blog called The Impolitic, which shows that her politics are clearly from the left. This belies the claim in her Detroit News blog that she's "separating fact from fiction".