In light of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Gersh Kuntzman with the NY Daily News went to a gun range to fire an AR-15 for the very first time, and now his description of the experience has left gun owners rolling in laughter. A few choice quotes from the article include:
It felt to me like a bazooka — and sounded like a cannon…But mostly, I was just terrified…
I’ve shot pistols before, but never something like an AR-15. Squeeze lightly on the trigger and the resulting explosion of firepower is humbling and deafening (even with ear protection)…
The recoil bruised my shoulder. The brass shell casings disoriented me as they flew past my face. The smell of sulfur and destruction made me sick. The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave me a temporary form of PTSD. For at least an hour after firing the gun just a few times, I was anxious and irritable…
He has since apologized for likening his anxiety to PTSD, but that didn’t stop gun owners from tearing into him in the comment section. In a follow-up article, he revealed that commenters started posting videos of children firing the AR-15, and having a blast. But mostly they just called him a pansy in a variety of colorful ways.
“I have never subscribed to the idea of ‘gender confusion,’ but after reading your article on the AR-15, I’m a believer…”
“If you have a man card turn it in immediately. You might be better served writing about feminine hygiene products!!!”
“Maybe you can get some balls through Obamacare!”
He then goes on to call the AR-15 a weapon of mass destruction, says the NRA is a bully for silencing opponents and violating their first amendment rights, and embraces being a wimp if “masculinity is defined by the power to commit violence on a wide scale”
And that’s infinitely more egregious than being a sissy around guns. There’s nothing inherent wrong with that, and guns aren’t for everyone. But in the end, Kuntzman doesn’t just reveal that he’s afraid of firearms. He also has some genuinely dumb opinions on the gun debate.
Saying that the NRA is violating the free speech of their opponents is just plain laughable. Pardon the pun, but they’re not putting a gun to anyone’s head. And an AR-15 is definitely not a weapon of mass destruction. Not by a long shot.
And like a typical liberal, he also reveals that he doesn’t have a firm grasp on the meaning of the Second Amendment. He goes on to claim that he supports the right to bear arms, but only if that right is strictly regulated, as in a “well-regulated” militia. But that term doesn’t refer to regulations. It’s original meaning is synonymous with “functional.” The Second Amendment simply recognizes that a functional and well-trained militia, made up of the people, is necessary to our security and freedom, and that’s not possible unless the people are armed with weapons that are appropriate for that task.
Listen, if you don’t like the Second Amendment then that’s totally fair, but if you don’t know what you’re talking about then maybe you don’t have any business joining the debate. You have every right to of course, but you’ll only sound like a fool.
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It felt to me like a bazooka — and sounded like a cannon.
One day after 49 people were killed in the Orlando shooting, I traveled to Philadelphia to better understand the firepower of military-style weapons and, hopefully, explain their appeal to gun lovers.
But mostly, I was just terrified.
Many gun shops turned down our request to fire and discuss the AR-15, a style of semi-automatic rifle popular with mass killers such as San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook and similar in capabilities to the Sig Sauer MCX rifle used by Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen.
But Frank Stelmach of Double Tap Shooting Range and Gun Shop invited me, videographer Michael Sheridan and reporter Adam Shrier to come down. Stelmach is not like many gun lovers. He admires his weaponry, yes, and has difficulty explaining why law-abiding citizens need a gun that can empty a 40-round magazine in a few seconds. But he also hates the idea that “bad people” get a hold of a gun like this and use it to kill without difficulty.
“There should be expanded background checks — extending into your family, friends and associates,” he said. “And there should be a mental health screening. In Europe, if you want to buy a gun, you have to see a doctor (for a psychiatric examination) to see if something’s not right.”
Stelmach, who opened his shop six years ago after a career in law enforcement in Europe, also said he never sells a gun to someone who “looks a little bit funny,” and he claimed he had prevented many guns from getting into the wrong hands because the would-be purchaser “asked stupid questions” like, “What happens to me if the gun is stolen?”
But very few gun shop owners do anything close to Stelmach’s sniff test — and he acknowledged how easy it is to find another gun shop owner willing to make the sale.
Very easy. In fact, as Philadelphia Daily News columnist Helen Ubinas showed today, you can get a military-styled weapon in seven minutes in this country.
Stelmach doesn’t think it should be easy. But he thinks it should be allowed. "Guns don't kill people. The wrong people kill people," Stelmach added. "We can't blame the weapon."
He loves the AR-15 for cops, soldiers, hunters and target shooters. “It’s fun to shoot something like that,” he said.
Not in my hands. I’ve shot pistols before, but never something like an AR-15. Squeeze lightly on the trigger and the resulting explosion of firepower is humbling and deafening (even with ear protection).
The recoil bruised my shoulder, which can happen if you don't know what you're doing. The brass shell casings disoriented me as they flew past my face. The smell of sulfur and destruction made me sick. The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave me a temporary form of PTSD. For at least an hour after firing the gun just a few times, I was anxious and irritable.
Even in semi-automatic mode, it is very simple to squeeze off two dozen rounds before you even know what has happened. If illegally modified to fully automatic mode, it doesn’t take any imagination to see dozens of bodies falling in front of your barrel.
All it takes is the will to do it.
Forty nine people can be gone in 60 seconds.
UPDATE: Many people have objected to my use of the term "PTSD" in the above story. The use of this term was in no way meant to conflate my very temporary anxiety with the very real condition experienced by many of our brave men and women in uniform. I regret the inarticulate use of the term to describe my in-the-moment impression of the gun's firepower, and apologize for it. I have also posted a follow up piece here.
The gun debate is also a gender war.
In all my years in journalism — coming up on 30 (thanks) — I have never received so much angry mail as I did after yesterday's story, "What is it like to fire an AR-15? It's horrifying, menacing and ver...."
I don't mind spirited debate, but many correspondents told me that even expressing an opinion about today's high-powered weaponry is off-limits to those of us who don't own such guns.
To reiterate, the goal of the story was simply to share with readers my experience of firing an AR-15, which very few of them have done. I found the sheer power of the weapon horrifying. I found the noise deafening and anxiety provoking. I was frightened by its potential for rapid, catastrophic, Orlando-like carnage with similiar weaponry. Using an AR-15 made me irritable and jittery for hours afterwards. To me, it felt like a bazooka.
"Kuntzman is an outright liar," wrote one emailer. "Nice try with an extremely stupid article which only appealed to girly boys and women of NYC and like the sheeple they are probably believed the lies." (Other writers informed me that the "lie" is that guns are bad. For the record: I never said they were.)
I certainly received many many emails from gun owners who legitimately quibbled with some of my conclusions. But the majority of email senders trained their laser sights on my masculinity — often in graphic terms that would sound more appropriate in a magazine about erectile dysfunction or an ad for Depends.
"Hey there Cupcake!" wrote Gary Haney. "I have never subscribed to the idea of 'gender confusion,' but after reading your article on the AR-15, I'm a believer because there is no way you and I are the same gender. You should surrender your testicles to the Department of Girlymen. I'm not sure where it's located, but your girlfriend Barack does!"
Others sent me videos of 7-, 10- and 12-year old girls firing the same weapon I fired — except these kids were smiling. And I wear it as a point of personal pride that conservative darling Erick Erickson posted a story on The Resurgent with the headline, "My 10 Year Old Daughter Is Tougher Than Gersh Kuntzman, Author of the Stupidest Thing on the Internet Today."
"You f--king pussy," wrote Sam Markota. "If you have a man card turn it in immediately. You might be better served writing about feminine hygiene products!!!"
"Your father must have left you to be raised by your mother or he was a sissy like you," added SargentMike77.
And one of my favorites, thanks to its pithy manner of linking my affliction to another right wing obsession: "Maybe you can get some balls through Obamacare!" wrote Adam Prolo.
And that's just the printable stuff. To summarize, this line of argument suggests that I'm not a real man because I am frightened by the awesome power of an AR-15, which, despite however you willfully misread my story, can discharge dozens of rounds in mere seconds.
Yes, this weapon scared the crap out of me. And it should scare the crap out of all of you, too. An AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction, a tool that should only be in the hands of our soldiers and cops, as Rep. Seth Moulton wrote in the Daily News on Tuesday. I don't think there's anything unmanly about pointing out this fact.
Besides, if masculinity is defined by the power to commit violence on a wide scale, I proudly choose femininity. At one time, “being a man” meant standing up for what you believe in — and against injustice. By that definition, we need more real men in power taking on bullies like the NRA, which seeks to bolster the Second Amendment by shutting down opponents’ right to the First. We can’t even debate guns in this country, thanks to the gun lobby.
My email and Internet trolls won't believe me, but I support the Second Amendment. I sincerely do believe that the Bill of Rights protects Americans' right to bear arms, albeit under very strict regulations — the "well-regulated militia" part of the sacred text.
And I even agree with one letter writer who pointed out that hammers can kill people, too, but we don't ban them.
But what if a weapons manufacturer could fashion a handgun that would fire a nuclear blast — an atomic version of an AR-15, if you will. It would look like a gun, but it could kill thousands instead of dozens. Like a rifle, it's one of many arms that we are allowed to keep and bear. But would we really stand idly by as people buy a nuclear gun in the name of the Second Amendment?
"It's just a gun," you might say. "It's my right. Trade in your man-card, you wimp."
Yes, I'm a wimp. I simpered because my experience with the AR-15 bruised me, body and spirit. But there's nothing unmanly about reminding my readers that mass murder is much easier to commit with a semi-automatic killing machine than it is with a hammer.
If that makes me a girl, well, maybe we should have a girl running the country.
"I’ve shot pistols before, but never something like an AR-15."
What pistol was that Buttercup?
Sucker dart toy gun?
Spring singleshot airsoft?
Heavens forbid this piss poor excuse for a human being ever shot something in .30
Oh look, another hit piece by one of the usual suspects...
A man walks into a nightclub with an AR-15. It is similar to the weapon I was trained on in the Army. It was designed for combat, to kill as many of the enemy as possible in the shortest amount of time. I was pretty good with it, even earned a marksmanship badge, but when the training was over and we returned to the barracks, our weapons were placed in their racks and all of the bullets were taken from us.
Now, an even more lethal version of that weapon is readily available on the market. If you told me back in my Army days that I could have bought the same weapon that I had been using in training, I would not have believed it. You might as well have mentioned a tank or a bazooka or a Bangalore torpedo, a handy bit of explosive useful for shredding barbed wire. And yet, this is what I get when I Google “AR-15”:
“Not sure what type of AR you want to build? Look through our AR-15, AR-10 and other AR rifles available, all at great prices at Grab A Gun. Buy Today.”
One is available for $483.18. Maybe you get it for less if you buy two.
But it only took one — plus a handgun — to kill 49 people at the Pulse club in Orlando. The shooter was mentally deranged. He was Muslim. He was born in New York. He had been married and he hated gays and he saw them kissing and he was nauseated by the sight.
The details intrigue and overwhelm and make this atrocity seem different from the previous ones, of which there are now so many. But it is always the same. It is always about guns.
At moments like this, two people pop into my head. The first is Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. He has said that Americans need assault weapons, lest “jackbooted government thugs . . . break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property and even injure or kill us.” How he left out the rape of our virgin women, I shall never know — probably an oversight.
The NRA has led the way in the mainstreaming of a demented gun ideology. It has been aided by a severe reading of the Second Amendment, which represents the thinking of 18th century men and their desire for a militia. They were not infallible. They countenanced slavery (some of them were slave owners) and the disenfranchisement of women, and they created that undemocratic concoction called the Electoral College by which a one-vote margin is tantamount to a landslide.
My second person is Ralph Nader. He is much vilified now for his 2000 presidential run that may have cost Al Gore the presidency, but before that he took the American automobile industry to task for the cars it made. He argued that you could hector people to drive safely until the cows came home, but accidents would happen anyway. Some people would speed. Some would run lights. Some would drink (and now they would text). So you had to design a car to withstand a crash. You have to save people from themselves.
It is the same with guns. Some politician will say we have to do something about mental health. (Ha! We can’t even keep nuts from running for President.) The one thing we can do something about is guns. Leaving aside handguns and hunting weapons, what’s the justification for possessing an AR-15? What’s the justification for a semiautomatic weapon with a magazine of 30 rounds? A shooter can get off 30 rounds in about half a minute. Pop in another magazine and that’s another 30 rounds. In a crowded space, it can take less than a minute to shoot 50 people.
So, let’s go back to that rifle range at Fort Dix, N.J. I have just earned my marksmanship badge and, accordingly, I get a weekend pass. I rush back to the barracks, shower and change into civilian clothes. As I bolt out the door, my platoon sergeant hands me my rifle and says I can take it with me for the weekend. Absurd, you say. Not as absurd as this: Nowadays, I could say, “Thanks, Sarge, but I already have one at home.”
Awesome kids, awesome and responsible parents.
Whenever I read articles by Gershy and his ilk, I hear the voice of Sol Roseneberg from the Jerky Boys stable of characters.
WTF? The AR-15 has one of the tamest recoils there is in the assault rifle groups! If this pussy's bruised his shoulder firing one, holy cow, a .308 would have ripped his arm off! LMAO Well, his last name does start with the letters KUNTZ...