David Kopel, a gun activist who frequently writes for the National Rifle Association's publications, has been identified by Denver Fox affiliate KDVR/FOX31 as a source for a fake story about a gun executive who was supposedly detained after being misidentified as a terrorist.
Kopel, who is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver's law school, is currently representing a group of sheriffs who seek to overturn Colorado's newly enacted gun violence prevention laws. In January, Kopel testified against stronger gun laws before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
According to a May 22 article, Kopel put KDVR in touch with a woman who claimed that Daniele Perazzi, an executive for Italian shotgun company who actually died in 2012, had been taken in for questioning by police in Denver after a cab driver misidentified him as a terrorist. It later became apparent that the woman, identified as Korrine Aguirre, fabricated the account.
KDVR reported that Kopel "first told FOX31 Denver" about the incident and referred them to Aguirre, "who, it now appears, concocted an elaborate but false story." The news outlet was also in touch with NRA board member Steve Schreiner, who claimed to be at the Colorado Gun Collectors Association show, where Perazzi was supposedly heading to when he was accused of being a terrorist:
Two trusted sources who told FOX31 Denver that an Italian gun company executive was questioned by local law enforcement after a Denver cab driver thought he might be a terrorist now say they were misled.
David Kopel, a nationally-recognized Second Amendment attorney with the Independence Institute in Denver, first told FOX31 Denver about the alleged incident Saturday. He referred us to Korrine Aguirre, who, it now appears, concocted an elaborate but false story.
Steve Schreiner, a Colorado board member of the National Rifle Association, told us he was at the gun show. He said Aguirre told him about the alleged questioning of Perazzi by police.
FOX31 Denver News Director Ed Kosowski has acknowledged, "More steps should have been taken to corroborate Aguirre's story and verify information provided by Kopel and Schreiner."
The fake story spread through conservative media and was promoted by conspiracy website InfoWars.com as part of a pattern of incidents "where gun manufacturers and legal gun owners have been targeted by government and police." KDVR's original online account was linked to by the Drudge Report under the headline, "DRAMA: Denver cab driver mistakes Italian gun executive for terrorist."
Prominent gun rights blogger David Codrea detailed FOX31's account and also spoke to involved parties, including Schreiner and an individual allegedly involved in the hoax:
Gun Rights Examiner also spoke this morning with one of the two attorneys involved with helping Perazzi straighten matters out to obtain his release. That attorney essentially confirmed the account provided by Schreiner, albeit she characterized the authorities' position on Perazzi leaving the state more as advice than an ultimatum by the sheriff to get out of town by sundown -- something that would have no readily apparent legal basis. A call has been put in to the Adams County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer for comment and clarification on this and other details, but a response has not been received at this writing.
Codrea has since acknowledged that the story is a hoax, and explained his reasoning for publishing the story, writing, "I was sent an email from a very well-known Second Amendment attorney titled 'major urgent story.'"
Kopel is not a reputable source of information in the gun policy debate. During a December 2012 appearance on CNN to discuss a high-profile shooting involving an NFL player, Kopel falsely claimed that there is no link between gun availability and homicide rates, even though that fact has been established by numerous studies. Kopel also exaggerated the level of violence in the United Kingdom, which has strict gun laws, compared to the United States, even though the United States far outpaces England -- and all other high-income nations -- in gun homicide and homicide rates generally.
A frequent contributor of feature stories to the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, Kopel promoted the conspiracy theory that the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty -- a proposal to crack down on the supply of weapons to human rights abusers -- could lead to the "total disarmament of freedom-loving people all over the world."