Last week I wrote about our congressional delegation’s views on President Obama’s gun control agenda. That story prompted an elderly reader to call me up and ask about Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s AR-15.
The man — I didn’t catch his name, regrettably — said the Daily Mail had a front-page story about Jay’s assault rifle years ago. He didn’t know when it ran, however.
I checked our archives and, sure enough, there were two page-one stories in August 1994 about an AR-15 owned by Sen. Rockefeller. I used my iPhone to take some photos of the microfilm. Click the images to open the images in a new window. I’ve included the text of the articles below the pictures.
Also (hint, hint) be sure to look for an update to this story in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.
UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2013, 9:33 a.m.) Here’s a link to my finished story.
I know those pictures aren’t easy on the eyes, so here is the text of those stories.
“Jay says he’s ‘a pretty good shot’
By Jack Deutsch
Daily Mail Washington Reporter
(Tuesday, August 23, 1994)
WASHINGTON – If burglars are casing big houses around here, they may want to give wide berth to the Rockefeller mansion.
The occupant is packing heat and knows how to use it.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller disclosed that for the past 25 years he has been the proud owner of a Colt AR-15, a so-called assault weapon used in Vietnam.
“It was given to me by a friend,” he said.
Such weapons are a hot topic in Congress. The House narrowly passed a crime bill, which bans the AR-15 and 18 other types of semiautomatic assault weapons. The Senate is debating the bill.
Rockefeller supports the gun ban even though his weapon is on the list of banned assault weapons.
The Senate bill does not require people to surrender their weapons. The law would prohibit any more sales of those guns.
“I would be able to keep that weapon,” he said.
Rockefeller keeps the rifle – “a terrific weapon” – in his Washington home.
“I don’t obviously use it,” he said.
That’s not to say he doesn’t know the business end of a shooting iron. The Harvard-educated millionaire boasted, “I’m a pretty good shot.” Asked how he became a dead-eye, the West Virginia Democrat declined to give a shooting history. He reassuringly added, “No lives were lost.” He has since retired to more sedate pursuits such as listening to Bach and dabbling in art.
“I don’t know what Johann Sebastian would have said about this,” he said.
And here’s the Saturday follow-up.
“Jay’s weapon locked away in Virginia”
By Jack Deutsch
DAILY MAIL WASHINGTON REPORTER
(Saturday, August 27, 1994)
WASHINGTON – So much for shooting off your mouth about guns.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller earlier this week talked about his very own semiautomatic assault weapon, a Colt AR-15.
The West Virginia Democrat said he kept the rifle in his home in Washington, D.C. That could be a problem. Washington has a gun ban on the books.
An AR-15 can’t be registered in the city. Possession of the weapon is a misdemeanor that can result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and a jail sentence up to one year.
Rockefeller says it’s all a misunderstanding.
In fact, he doesn’t keep the weapon at home. It’s locked away in Northern Virginia, he said Friday afternoon.
This week, Rockefeller voted in favor of the crime bill, which would ban the sale of the AR-15 and 18 other types of assault weapons.
The law would permit current owners to hold on to their guns.
The vote distressed pro-gun groups, who relished the idea of Rockefeller violating a local gun law.
“It’s hypocrisy when a senator votes to ban the gun he already owns in a place you can’t legally own it,” said Tanya Metaksa, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.
Rockefeller offered a detailed explanation of the gun’s whereabouts.
Here’s the story: About 30 years ago, one of his cousins gave him the Colt AR-15. He kept it at his farm in Pocahontas County.
About four years ago, he removed the AR-15 and other guns because the farm’s caretaker family had children.
He brought the guns to Washington. But he didn’t want them at his home because his son Justin was so young. He said he was not aware of the local gun restrictions.
He gave the guns to a retired Washington police officer who provides security at Rockefeller’s residence. The security officer stored the weapons at his home in northern Virginia.
“They have remained in northern Virginia in storage since then,” Rockefeller said in a statement.
The senator said he wouldn’t support any law that required gun owners to surrender their shooting irons.
The NRA pointed out that Rockefeller already owns an AR-15, which he described as “terrific.” But no one else will be able to buy one.
“If it’s so terrible, how come he owns it?” Metaksa asked.
“He’s telling his constituents and the American public that the Second Amendment is OK for me but not for thee.” Rockefeller said the ban is needed because violent criminals are using assault weapons more often.
“For the time being, until we can curb the use of assault weapons by violent criminals, I believe it makes sense to prohibit future sales and manufacture of some specific types of assault weapons,” he said.
Remember, check tomorrow’s Daily Mail for a follow-up.