When I was a young man I was fascinated with the investigative reports of George Plimpton. The guy would go out and try various professions – some rather dangerous – and film his exploits to share with the nation. These included everything from being a professional football player to a demolition engineer. It’s a great tradition and one which is now being kept alive by New York Daily News reporter Gersh Kuntzman. The intrepid journalist responded to the shooting in Orlando not by going out to fight ISIS, but rather by obtaining and firing an AR-15 rifle. (Even though the Orlando shooter didn’t actually use one.) The results of this grand experiment were, if nothing else, amusing. Kuntzman describes his experience and the trauma he encountered from firing the weapon for us. (Emphasis added, and please pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs.)
It feels like a bazooka — and sounds 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 assault weapons and, hopefully, explain their appeal to gun lovers.
But mostly, I was just terrified…
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 case 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. In fully automatic mode, it doesn’t take any imagination to see dozens of bodies falling in front of your barrel.
I’m going to tackle two elements of this story in reverse order because the last paragraph contains something truly alarming. “In fully automatic mode“??? If Mr. Kuntzman has located a gun shop in Philadelphia which is selling AR-15s with a selector switch (similar to the one on an M16) which allows it to go into full automatic mode then somebody needs to contact the ATF and get some agents into the store pronto. It’s been illegal to sell such a weapon to the public since well before the reporter was born. What we’re dealing with here is fantasy fiction, not reporting.
Moving past that obvious bit of deception, how did the reporter’s experience in firing the AR-15 go so awry? His shoulder was bruised by the recoil? The “explosions” of the weapon’s report gave him PTSD? He was sickened by the “smell of sulfur” coming from the weapon? Did Kuntzman actually fire the weapon or was he watching a poorly made movie and doing his “reporting” based on that experience?
For the record, I’ve never owned an AR-15, though I’ve fired one on the range. The .223 round is too small for my tastes for large game and I used either a Winchester .30-30 or a Remington .30-06 for deer hunting. For varmint and other small game a .223 would be fine I suppose, but the AR-15 is grossly expensive compared to some .22 calibers I’ve had which do the job just fine. Still, the recoil on the rifle is nothing of note when fired properly and if you are getting “bruised” from using it you were very poorly trained.
Just as an aside, I have been bruised by a weapon, but it was a rather nasty trick my dad and my Uncle Bernie played on me when I was around twelve years old and pestering them to allow me to fire a shotgun when I’d only been cleared to use my .22 at the time. As horrifying and unsafe as it sounds today, dad let me fire one round from his Browning pump action 12 gauge with buck shot in it. They told me to hold the butt of the stock a couple of inches out in front of my shoulder so I could really sight down the barrel. I probably weighed all of 85 pounds, so anyone who has ever fired a shotgun knows what happened next. That thing knocked me down and my shoulder and upper arm turned purple for days. Mom had a hissy fit and, as I said, it was horribly unsafe, but that was may dad’s sense of humor.
The AR-15 isn’t anywhere near that league in terms of recoil. If you have a very lightweight model it can kick a little to be sure, but nothing close to what the author is describing. Also, how was he smelling all of this “sulfur” while testing it? The odor from modern cartridges is minimal at worst.
Our colleague MIke Mcdaniel at Bearing Arms asks one of the questions which is rather delicate to approach. If Mr. Kuntzman was this traumatized by firing an AR-15, how long would he last selling Girl Scout cookies?
As a fellow member of the patriarchy, I worry about Mr. Kuntzman’s masculinity and self-image. I have, on numerous occasions, introduced females, including little girls no older than 10 and no more than 70 pounds, to the awe-inspiring power of the AR-15. Granted, they had to fire from a supported position, lacking the strength to support the 7-pound rifle for long otherwise, but after firing many rounds, their universal reaction was one of delight–they found the little rifle’s accuracy and ease of use pleasing–and not a bruise among them. The same is true of adult women, many no more than 110 pounds sopping wet.
Somebody needs to have a word with Gersh Kuntzman’s employers. If this was supposed to be actual reporting of his experiences in the field, much of it doesn’t pass the smell test. (Literally in the case of the sulfur odor.) I understand that the liberal press wants to demonize guns and gun owners, but they owe it to us to at least make an effort a mimicking reality. And the AR-15 is not too much for your average reporter to handle. In fact, here’s a picture of one doing just that! It’s our own Ed Morrissey, who doesn’t seem to be having any difficulty. And let’s be honest here… the dude rides a scooter.