A political journalist in Vermont unironically penned a column this week explaining how his experience shooting an AR-15 in an indoor range for the first time “rattled” him.
“It is difficult to describe the impact — physical and personal — of that first shot. It felt like a meteor had struck the earth in front of me,” Kevin McCallum, a political reporter for Seven Days, wrote unashamedly.
The journo started off by admitting he’s not “a gun guy” and hasn’t shot anything other than a .22 rifle at a camp more than three decades ago. McCallum said he hasn’t “felt the impulse to own a gun for personal protection, whether due to privilege or delusion or both” and concluded shortly after that keeping a gun in his house would make him and his family “less safe, not more.”
While this might be true for the reporter, who admitted he had set his rented 9mm pistol down with a live round still in the chamber before getting quickly chastised by the range owner, it is not true for everyone. This is evident by the strong and steady demand for guns and ammo ever since government-mandated lockdowns and the summer of rage prompted Americans to seek firearms for personal protection.
Among his reasons for exploring the first indoor gun range in the same town as the lefty, anti-Israel Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont, the reporter noted, was this emphasis on firearm sales and the fact that he could rent the guns to shoot at the range — in his case a 9mm pistol and an AR-15.
McCallum said he started off with a Ruger pistol and did fine, but when it came to the AR-15, he said, “Everything about it — its weight, tactical scope and overall lethality — was downright intimidating.”
It is not uncommon for kids who grow up in gun-loving households to learn to shoot AR-15s at a young age and actually enjoy it due to the lessened impact on their shoulders after firing, but for McCallum, the impact was too much.
“A deep shock wave coursed through my body, the recoil rippling through my arms and right shoulder with astounding power. Being that close to an explosion of such magnitude — controlled and focused as it was — rattled me,” he wrote.
This is an overblown reaction, to say the least. While shooting at an indoor range can sometimes feel louder and overload the senses, comparing the experience to “a meteor” is utterly ridiculous, and anyone who has shot inside before knows it.
“It was exhilarating, but I never got comfortable firing it. I’m not sure what scared me more — the power of that weapon or the fact that I could have taken one home that day,” McCallum concluded.
This overdramatic account of this guy’s first AR-15 experience reminds me of a 2013 townhall with then-Vice President Joe Biden, who repeatedly urged the public and women concerned about safety to acquire a double-barrel shotgun to protect themselves.
“You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim. It’s harder to use,” Biden claimed. “And in fact, you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.”
Biden’s insistence that a shotgun is easier to handle feels like the same firearm ignorance exuded by McCallum and so many other corporate media journalists who are out of touch with flyover country and how to report on guns.
McCallum is not immune to this plague either. At one point in the article, he highlighted this out-of-touch feeling when he noted that the gun range owner created a space that “will break through the fear factor surrounding guns, much of which he said is manufactured by the media.” What the reporter failed to recognize was that he has, in fact, contributed to this fear factor in his own reporting.
One of the most prominent examples of this is when McCallum appeared to balk at the owner’s rejection of the false term “assault rifle” because it is considered an “inflammatory” and “imprecise” term used by corporate media outlets to describe ArmaLite rifles. The journo, however, seemed to overlook the objection to the misnomer, which he has frequently used in his previous gun coverage.
If you didn’t grow up around guns, it’s easy not to understand them and even be afraid of them. After all, you never hear or read good stories about the thousands of crimes prevented and countless lives saved by firearms each day. It is, however, embarrassing to pretend that something that regular Americans do on a regular basis in a safe, recreational way was somehow a jarring experience.
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.