Daily News Writer Somehow Survives Trauma Of Firing America's Most Popular Rifle

Gersh Kuntzman credit: politico.com
Gersh Kuntzman credit: politico.com
Gersh Kuntzman
credit: politico.com

I was going to write “it is a matter of faith,” among experienced gun owners that progressives 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 Progressive ventures forth into the soul-destroying and terrifying realm of guns, 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. 

Barrett 82A1
Barrett 82A1

Mr. Kuntzman, a very brave reporter, sought out a gun dealer that would allow him to fire the gun most 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 20” barrel?

S&W Limited Edition in .500 S&W
S&W Limited Edition in .500 S&W

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

Colt LE6920 AR-15
Colt LE6920 AR-15

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.

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 Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen.

Mr. Kuntzman ignores the fact that few mass shootings in America have involved AR-15s. In fact, an AR-15 was not used in the Orlando attack.  The killers in two of the attacks with the highest body counts used commonly available handguns. The Fort Hood jihadist used a single handgun. The Virginia Tech killer used two common handguns, including one in .22LR caliber.

I’m sure many gun dealers these days would be wary of any reporter, particularly one for the NYDN, asking to do a story on the AR-15. Gun owners and dealers have all had more than their share of reporters misquoting them, even lying about them, and firearms, a notorious recent example being Katy Couric’s malicious editing in an anti-gun documentary.


Kuntzman reports that one Frank Stelmach, a gun dealer in Philadelphia agreed to host him. Kuntzman depicts Stelmach as just short of a gun control advocate, and ala Couric, suggests that Stelmach was unable to answer some of his morally superior questions. By all means, take the link and see for yourself. I do pity Mr. Stelmach who will doubtless have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Kuntzman is also, unsurprisingly, horrified at how easy it is to obtain a firearm:

Very easy. In fact, as Philadelphia Daily News columnist Helen Ubinas showed today, you can get a military weapon in seven minutes in this country.

And how long do Kuntzman and Ubinas think one should be required to wait to exercise a fundamental, unalienable right? Waiting periods, by the way, have been demonstrated to have no effect whatsoever on crime, which is why so few states require them. Perhaps, just to be safe, reporters, the pen being mightier than the sword, should be required to undergo a month long background check before publishing an article?  Perhaps a year would be better, just to be safe?  Anyone that disagrees is a racist hater.

Helen Ubinas credit: philly.com
Helen Ubinas
credit: philly.com

Actually Ubinas’ story claims that it took seven minutes from handing the clerk her driver’s license until the federal background check was complete. The fact that it took considerably longer than that to complete the sale and leave with the rifle is buried much more deeply in the story, which is a standard anti-gun/gun owner diatribe. She too falsely claimed the Orlando shooter used an AR-15. To be entirely fair, he used another brand of semiautomatic rifle–take the earlier link for that information. That’s Ms. Ubinas in the photo holding her new AR-15. She appears, somehow, to be holding on to her sanity, though doubtless, she is on the ragged edge. She immediately gave the gun to the local police, which may have spared her Mr. Kuntzman’s trauma.


Kuntzman tells readers that Stelmach thinks the AR-15 good for “cops, soldiers, hunters and target shooters,” and also thinks the rifle fun to shoot. But not so for poor Mr. Kuntzman, who suffers so you won’t have to:

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. 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.

“The recoil bruised my shoulder,” and poor Mr. Kuntzman, even with ear protection was humbled and deafened.  The horror.

Return with me, gentle readers, to those thrilling days of yesteryear, circa the mid 1970s, my first time on the range in the USAF with the M-16, an actual fully automatic rifle. Though I was only a lad of 6’ and 155 pounds, I was able to fire the fearsome weapon, actually on full auto, and semiauto, without the slightest discomfort. One of my most vibrant memories of that experience was a Sgt. demonstrating the fearsome recoil of the weapon by placing the buttplate in direct contact with his nose and firing several rounds.


That valiant NCO must have had stainless steel ears and a titanium nose, perhaps due to war injuries, because not only were no injuries visible on his nose–it wasn’t even a little red–but he showed no sign of hearing damage, nor did he appear to be humbled, carrying on as a fully functional and genuinely terrifying drill instructor without skipping a beat. Despite being substantially less a man than I currently am, I too escaped physical and psychic injury, incurring not the slightest bruise. The same was true of my fellow recruits, many of whom were substantially less substantial than me. It was obvious that the .223 cartridge was more powerful than the .22LR with which I was intimately acquainted–it was a bit louder and produced a tiny bit more recoil–but the horrors experienced by Kuntzman were nowhere to be seen on the range that day.

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.

Mr. Kuntzman seems a bit delusional in other ways. Unless he is left handed and fired the rifle from his left shoulder, there would have been no brass flying past his face to disorient him, and the odors he reports might be experienced when firing a black powder rifle, but not a rifle using modern ammunition. And what, I wonder, does “destruction” smell like? And explosions? “Loud like a bomb”? I can only hope a sensitive fellow like Mr. Kuntzman is never within aural range of an actual explosion. Judging by his reaction to the report of an AR-15, which is mild indeed among rifle cartridges–and even some handgun cartridges–he’d be unlikely to survive.


PTSD? From firing a few rounds through an AR-15? Really? Perhaps Mr. Kuntzman would be well served by doing a bit of research on what actually constitutes PTSD.  Perhaps he could ask a few combat veterans.

Mr. Kuntzman’s prose gives the reader the impression he fired a fully automatic rifle, as he differentiates between full and semiautomatic fire, without specifically saying that. Yet in one paragraph he claims to have fired the rifle “just a few times,” and in the next, he fires “two dozen rounds” so rapidly he has no idea what happened.  Even when firing genuinely automatic weapons, I’ve never failed to be aware of what was happening, but that’s just me, gun nut that I am.

Mr. Kuntzman also imagines “dozens of bodies falling in front of [his] your barrel.” No wonder gun dealers were reluctant to allow him to shoot anywhere near them. I certainly wouldn’t want him to be anywhere near me on a range. Actually, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near such a range.  Maybe not in the same county…

But that’s Mr. Kuntzman’s world, a world inhabited by a great many reporters, and many Progressives. It is a world of obsession and irrational fear, of loathing of inanimate objects and their owners. However, it is interesting to note that during the Age of Obama, many Democrats, Progressives, what have you, have, for the first time in their lives, purchased guns, and failed to experience the horror that so terrified Mr. Kuntzman. They actually discovered that shooting is great fun, confidence-building and empowering, and yes, some of these guns were AR-15s. It would seem confidence is something of which Mr. Kuntzman is very much in need.


In reality, the AR-15 is the most popular sporting rifle in America and has been for years, a trend that shows no sign of slowing. Its .223/5.56mm cartridge is of intermediate power–it is not remotely a high-powered rifle–and one primary reason for its popularity is its very mild recoil and report. One of my other memories of firing an M-16 for the first time–triangular hand guard!–was hearing the main recoil spring, through my hearing protection and the report of the rifle, cycling the bolt group as I fired. It’s amazing I could hear that despite the explosions that so disoriented Mr. Kuntzman, no? Reality also reveals that rifles of any kind are very rarely used in any kind of crime in America, and the AR-15 family represents a tiny portion of an already tiny statistical category.

I wish Mr. Kuntzman well, and a speedy recovery from his self-inflicted trauma. I do, however, worry about his ability to cope with the modern world. I sincerely hope that should he ever use power tools or drive a car he first engages adult supervision and makes an appointment with a mental health professional certified in the treatment of PTSD .  Ms. Ubinas appears to be made of sterner stuff.  Perhaps there ought to be a law…?

Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.

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