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Smith & Wesson M&P 15, a common AR-15 variant

This fearsome, world-shattering firearm is a common AR-15.  It is semiautomatic, a technology more than a century old.  It fires the .223 cartridge, not a “high-powered” cartridge, but one of intermediate power.  It has, among all rifles, a low report, and due to its design and gas operation, minimal recoil characteristics.  Yet this rifle repeatedly emasculates pseudo-male members of the media.  Actually, they emasculate themselves.

Back in 2016, I wrote an article for Bearing Arms about the unfortunately named Gersh Kuntzman, a reporter for The New York Daily News.  Kuntzman, you see, well, here’s an excerpt from my 2021 SMM update of that article:

Gersh Kuntzman
credit: knowyourmeme

I was going to write ‘it is a matter of faith,’ among experienced gun owners D/S/Cs know nothing about guns, nor do they care to know anything, but that’s not quite true.  It’s also a matter of experience.  Occasionally, a D/S/C ventures boldly forth into the soul-destroying and terrifying realm of guns—you know: normal America–and barely escapes with his or her life and sanity, not that many of them could, upon demand, demonstrate sanity in the first place. Such a person is one Gersh Kuntzman, writing for The New York Daily News. 

Mr. Kuntzman, a very brave reporter in the manner of Brave, Brave Sir Robin, sought out a gun dealer that would allow him to fire the gun most terrifying, brutalizing to the shooter and most deadly in all the world.  A .50 BMG caliber Barrett?  A .500 S&W?  A .50 BMG chambered for a revolver with a 2-inch barrel?  A six-pound rifle firing a 30mm cannon round from a 4” barrel?

No.  Much, much worse: an AR-15 in .223 Remington.  What follows is not a parody.

By all means, take the link and read the rest.  Mercilessly mocked by many, including me, Kuntzman bravely defended himself—by admitting he learned nothing from his experience, and is a particularly ill-informed girly-man–and proud of it:

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.

Considering who’s second in line—cackle, cackle–maybe not.  Anyway, it’s happened again, this time involving a reporter for Seven Days Vermont.com, by the name of Kevin McCallum:

I’m not a gun guy. I haven’t handled a firearm since I squeezed off a few rounds from an old .22 rifle at summer camp more than 35 years ago.

Nor have I felt the impulse to own a gun for personal protection, whether due to privilege or delusion or both. I’ve also figured, rightly or wrongly, that owning a gun — statistically speaking — would tend to make my family’s home less safe, not more.

So when Henry Parro opened the state’s first indoor shooting range in Waterbury in late June, I didn’t pay it much mind.

Then one novel feature caught my attention: firearms for rent. I’ve rented cars and skis and stand-up paddleboards — even a snowmobile once — but I’d never heard of a place where you could walk in, plunk down a credit card and minutes later be firing an assault rifle.

Here McCallum engages in a reasonably balanced exposition about the indoor range, it’s owner, selling guns, etc.  He does, of course, engage in a bit of snark, because guns.  We’ll skip ahead to the self-emasculation:

To experience the offerings of this temple to the Second Amendment, I paid for a lane for an hour ($18). I rented a Ruger 9mm pistol and a high-powered, semiautomatic AR-15-style rifle made by a company called Heckler & Koch ($35 each). (Parro and his staff reject the term ‘assault rifle’ as inflammatory and imprecise and, in all cases, prefer the term “firearm” to ‘weapon.’) I also picked up 100 rounds of ammo ($25 for 50 pistol rounds and $59 for 50 rifle rounds) and chose the standard six-bullseye target ($1.99) over the zombie or the gun-wielding bad guy daring me to shoot him in various highlighted organs.

After I reviewed three pages of range rules, watched a 10-minute safety video, took a short quiz, and donned eye and ear protection, range safety officer Josh Noble led me through two sets of bulletproof doors.

Inside one of the 10 available lanes, I stapled my target to the carrier, then tapped a touch screen that could send the target sliding out up to 25 yards. I started with five yards.

Noble showed me how to load the 9mm bullets into the magazine, shove the magazine into the grip, slide back the surprisingly stiff bolt, release the safety and prepare to fire. I lined up the sights as best I could, gently squeezed the trigger and — BAM!

I missed. A tiny hole appeared wide of the target. Even from that short distance, I found it surprisingly challenging to keep the sights centered on the bullseye. Round after round, magazine after magazine, however, I slowly improved my accuracy.

Once, having lost count of how many bullets were in the magazine, I put the pistol down with a live round in the chamber. Noble quickly spotted my error and cleared the chamber; the unfired bullet dropped to the floor where it fell into a grated collection channel.

That’s exactly how many firearms accidents happen, Noble said: when even experienced shooters don’t make sure the chamber is empty when cleaning or re-holstering their pistols.

So far so good.  McCallum still has all his man parts.  But…

While the pistol was manageable, even comfortable to hold and fire, the rifle was a different beast altogether. Everything about it — its weight, tactical scope and overall lethality — was downright intimidating.

Keep in mind, gentle readers, the AR family is in the six pound range, while the rifles carried by the Greatest Generation in WWII were some four pounds heavier.  Are we less manly than they?  McCallum hasn’t fired the rifle yet, and it’s not looking good:

The fact that the first magazine refused to click into place didn’t help either, further unnerving me. What if I just broke a $3,500 rifle? A fresh magazine worked just fine, though, and after loading it, I sent the target out to 15 yards.

When ready, I lined up the target in the cross hairs, pulled the stock onto my shoulder, squeezed the trigger and — BA-BOOM!!!!!

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. 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.

I composed myself and continued to fire round after concussive round, the puffs of acrid gunpowder smoke carried downrange by a powerful ventilation system. My accuracy gradually improved until it became easier to hit the target with the rifle from 25 yards than with the pistol from five.

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.

The horror.  At least McCallum, unlike Kuntzman, is not complaining of lasting physic trauma, nor did he report he was shaking for hours.  But I’m afraid we’re not going to let him off quite that easily.  Still, one shudders to think what would have become of McCallum if he ever fired a genuinely high-powered cartridge.  Could he possibly survive, or would he, at the least, have to transition to female?

For a bit of perspective, let us harken back to those days of yesteryear, when I hit an Air Force range for my first firing of the M-16, a genuine, fully automatic, assault rifle.  I was but a lad of 20 then, a tall, skinny sort, much less of a man than I now am.  Even then, the rifle didn’t feel heavy, and we were using the triangular hand guarded, solid stocked, 20” barreled version.

Prior to firing, a crusty Drill Instructor demonstrated the fearsome recoil by placing the stock of an M-16 on his nose and firing several rounds, producing not so much as a red mark.  Another somewhat less crusty firearm instructor snugged the buttstock up to his man parts and repeated the performance, again, without so much as a wince.

At that point in my life, I had fired thousands of rounds of .22LR, and I found the report of the .223/5.56mm cartridge a bit more energetic, but not the least objectionable.  In fact, I was amazed to realize even over the “BA-BOOM!!!!!”, the meteoric impact, and the “recoil rippling through my arms and right shoulder with astounding power,” through my hearing protectors, I could hear the spring driving the buffer in the stock cycling back and forth.

Even way back then, nothing about shooting the M-16 was in any way distressing.  It was clear the .223 cartridge was more powerful, but anyone capable of shooting a .22LR rifle would have no trouble shooting an AR-15.

One more anecdote: years ago I took a female friend, 5’7”, 135 pounds, shooting.  I had a .22LR adapter for my AR back then, and she fired a few hundred rounds with that cartridge first.  When we switched to the .223, after the first shot, she said “whoa!” and looked surprised, but immediately fired another few magazines, enjoying it immensely.  Somehow, she managed to avoid meteors and survived the “astounding power” of the experience, widely grinning all the while.

To be absolutely fair, someone with no experience with firearms, with no means of comparison, might think an AR-15 to be very powerful, but then, how do we explain this:

She’s seven years old.  One can easily find more, such as here,  and here:

Note the delighted look on her face—she’s eight—and the unnecessary padding on her shoulder, doubtless a thoughtful encouragement from her father.  I’ve taught girls of similar age, and all had a great time and wanted to shoot more.  None suffered so much as a bruise to their shoulder or ego.  Of course, they were little girls, so there was nothing to self-emasculate.

As for Mr. McCallum, just a word of advice: you’re already at the bottom of the self-emasculation hole.  Don’t respond; stop digging.