Edwards rides shotgun with Charlie; get a peek at the legend behind the beard

The only thing that we could say was really disappointing about Riding Shotgun With Charlie episode #168 is that it did not open with the lyrical inflection of Cam Edwards reciting the Second Amendment. So before  ya’ll tune in, close your eyes and imagine Cam saying those powerful words, or quickly play the intro of one of his Cam and Company episodes, and take in the bushy goodness of a reminder of what our most important fundamental right is. The other month, Charlie Cook, the host of RSWC, headed down to Farmville, Virginia. The joke of course is that Farmville is not just a social media platformed game from the late 2000’s early 2010’s, it’s a real place. However, if you ask any true Second Amendment supporter about Farmville, they live under a rock if they don’t immediately bring up Cam Edwards’ name. Episode #168 featuring Edwards dropped today and it’s worth a gander.

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Riding Shotgun with Charlie is an open-ended conversational based podcast and YouTube channel. Cook travels the country having his guests sit in the passenger seat of his modern day “stagecoach,” while he has frank conversations with his guests. People have a tendency to open up more when on the road, but unlike a Kerouac novel, all the action actually happens on the road with Cook.

Cook invited Edwards to join him on a ride through the Virginia countryside to talk about himself. Our very own Cam had to change gears, and he was the one answering the questions and telling the stories. This was not like listening in on Edwards chat with giants like Mark Walters about policy or the gun news of the week. This show was a peek into the world of one of the OGs of nuevo Second Amendment media, and perhaps one of the biggest influences on the gun news consuming public.

Edwards opened up a bit about how, through his own programming, he’s confined to the cause celeb of any given day or week, versus having the time – and latitude – to get deeper into the human side of our advocacy:

“I do feel like I’ve got to […cover the] top news story of the day, right? But, this is what I actually like to watch and listen to. Yeah, because I listen…what really drew me, I guess what kept me passionate about Second Amendment issues all these years, It’s not the guns itself. It is our rights. But it’s also the people, right? It’s the people that I’ve got a chance to know. And to get a chance to meet who I never would have met. Were it not for this. You know, and I just met some of the greatest people in the world. So I love the world of Second Amendment activism, I love the people in it, and getting a chance to learn more about them through a program like this. I just think this is really something special. So I’m kind of fanboying out too Charlie is what I’m saying here.” – Cam Edwards on the people of the Second Amendment

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The ever-so steady, even keeled, and salient voice, Edwards dove a bit into his past. Cook was shocked to learn that Cam was born in Massachusetts, as I was shocked to learn he did live for a short while in New Jersey prior to his family settling down in Oklahoma City. 

It was in Oklahoma where Edwards got his start, and the first gig he got as a talk show host was not a paying job. Before Edwards was behind a mic though, he was behind a camera as well as filling roles deeper behind the scenes, popping cassette tapes into players, queueing up segments and pressing buttons.

Cook prodded Edwards about a story he often tells about when he was in the early stages of his relationship with his wife, Miss E. Edwards talked about the courtship that developed and his long distance relationship. In the beginning, Edwards was in Oklahoma and Miss E. was in Camden, New Jersey, the then murder capital of the U.S. One night while talking on the phone, Edwards heard the sound of gunfire and Miss E. was silent on the other line. Edwards was worried for Miss E., not even knowing her address at the time, or how else to get in touch with her in another manner. The next day he called over to her work to have one of her coworkers check in on her, but Miss E. did answer Cam’s call, telling him, “I just fell asleep. Gunfire at night over here is like the sound of crickets where you live.”

Perhaps one of the most entertaining and shocking portions of the interview turns out to be exclusive to Riding Shotgun With Charlie. Edwards said that he never told anyone this story and that it’s about the first time he ever touched a firearm. Due to statute of limitations and the unfortunate passing of a family member, Edwards was given the nod to tell the story. And it goes like…

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If you want to learn about the exclusive story of the first time Cam Edwards ever touched a firearm, you’re going to have to tune into the show. It’s not what I was expecting when I heard it. This was not one of those “My uncle and I were shooting aluminum cans in his backyard,” type of story. This was a “The statute of limitations are lifted,” kind of story.

The near 50 minute episode goes quickly as Edwards and Cook get into a groove of exploring what brought Cam from flyover country, to the DC Metro area, and then eventually to the “too good to be true sounding” Farmville, Virginia. Edwards also gives us a look at his move to doing Cam and Company with NRA Media – through Ackerman McQueen -, some of the inner workings, and then the eventual collapse of NRA’s relationship with the firm.

Edwards did talk about some of the freedom he felt while working for Ackerman McQueen, and it’s a formula I’d say he emulates in his current role as editor of Bearing Arms.

“It’s one thing I think to have a program perspective. But it’s another thing to say ‘Okay, today you must talk about this.’ Right? I think that’s what, I get the impression and I always had the impression honestly, that Angus McQueen wanted to avoid that [level of control], that he did want to be able to say look – because at first it was just me, so at first it was, ‘Cam’s editorial independence,’ right? ‘I don’t tell him what to say. Wayne doesn’t tell him what to say.’ And you know what, that really was the truth. I always said that I felt like I had this unicorn of a job.” – Cam Edwards on working for Ackerman McQueen

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This is the way Edwards works in his day-to-day at Bearing Arms. It’s not that he has a band of rogue personalities with the loonies running the asylum, but rather, Edwards gives all the writers the breadth to express themselves, their ideas, and stories in the manner in which they choose. 

The duo discussed the editing of work, and I can attest to this, Edwards does not have a very heavy hand. There’s hardly an instance where the actual character of content has been changed or denied publication. Edwards allows those of us to write for him to do so very unhindered. Perhaps the liberty he enjoyed by getting a chance to editorialize without much intervention is what makes Edwards the great editor he is today, or just that he’s an all around good dude. More accurately, it’s got to be a combination of both.

A final parting note about the show that’s worth repeating in writing is Edwards’ view of social media. This is something he’s said before, and jokes that he’s an influencer who does not use social media, but he does seem to have the key to the equation when it comes to modern communication:

“I am technically still on Twitter, but I just am not on social media a lot right now. I I feel kind of like social media like Shannon Watts feels about AR-15’s, except I’m not stupid enough to think we can ever actually get rid of social media. But I have an irrational hatred of social media like Shannon Watts’ irrational hatred of firearms…I am a bad influencer because I hate what social media does to us. And I really feel like it’s more – ultimately more – detrimental than helpful. Having said that, I haven’t deleted my Twitter account. So you can find me on Twitter at Cam Edwards as well.” – Cam Edwards on social media

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If you have the time to carve out, you won’t be disappointed with this special look into the cogs and wheels behind one of the greatest personalities and minds in Second Amendment media. You can also see the shoe on the other foot, in Charlie Cook’s appearance on Cam and Company from last Wednesday, also a good bit of behind-the-scenes. To paraphrase both Cam’s and Charlie’s sentiments – a view I share -, at the end of the day, the people in this fight really do make it a pleasurable battle, and I’m honored to know both of these Second Amendment Titans.

You can check out Cam’s appearance on the Riding Shotgun With Charlie show HERE or in the embed below.

[Editor’s note – My thanks to John Petrolino for his very kind words, as well as to Charlie Cook for inviting me out for a weekend drive. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did, and I encourage you to give it a watch or a listen when you can. – Cam] 

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