The mass media and the alternative media both follow very predictable scripts in the wake of every mass shooting tragedy. The first step is to quickly dig into the perpetrator’s background to find confirmation bias of ones own particular political ideology. If you lean left, you want the shooter to be a tea-party member and Trump supporter. If you lean right, you want him to be a registered democrat and Muslim, which Omar Mateen ironically was in the instance of the Pulse gay club shooting. He was most likely a self loathing homosexual as well, but the point is that everyone rushes to prop up their own particular political ideology.
The New York Times and others seem almost as if they have scripts waiting on a hard drive, with stories, memes, pictures, and narratives pre-prepared to be rolled out in the aftermath of such tragedies. No, I am not saying that these shootings are conspiracies of some kind, but simply pointing out that the press milks them for all they are worth.
Most of us are accustomed to reading non-sense in the press. This cynicism is what has led to someone like Donald Trump being successful as a anti-media candidate. People have so little faith in the press at this point that openly mocking and deriding journalists is seen as preferable while past candidates would seek to become the darling of major newspapers. Whatever your thoughts are about Trump, it is not hard to understand why Americans are losing faith in our fourth estate.
On the non-sense side of reporting, Gersh Kuntzman at the the New York Daily News really took it to the next level. New York City based newspapers are infamous for being anti-gun, so yet another slew of articles about how evil the NRA is in the wake of a mass shooting is unsurprising but Kuntzman goes above and beyond in his article titled: What is it like to fire an AR-15? It’s horrifying, menacing, and very very loud.
The Kuntzman opinion piece is filled with choice quotes, cringe worthy moments, and false information that is likely to make gun owners laugh, cry, and furious all at the same time. The gist of it is this, Kuntzman found a gun shop in Philadelphia that would allow him to shoot a AR-15 with a camera crew present. The author of the New York Daily News article described the experience as:
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 form of PTSD. For at least an hour after firing the gun just a few times, I was anxious and irritable.
Frank Stelmach, apparently a European immigrant, who runs Double Tap Shooting Range and Gun Shop where Kuntzman had his first AR-15 experience is quoted as saying, “There should be expanded background checks — extending into your family, friends and associates…and there should be a mental health screening. In Europe, if you want to buy a gun, you have to see a doctor (for a psychiatric examination) to see if something’s not right.”
A quick check of the Double Tap Shooting Range and Gun Shop facebook page shows that they have very quickly distanced themselves from the Kuntzman article writing, “I can assure everyone that we do not support mental health screenings like they do in Europe and we don’t think that government officials should take away guns from people as it was portrayed in the article. Currently we are doing everything we can to take this article down because after reading it we are just as disgusted about it as all of you are.”
Perhaps it is too little too late, as the damage has been done. Kuntzman is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts. When the article was first published, the fourth paragraph down read: “Many gun shops turned down our request to fire and discuss the AR-15, a style of tactical machine gun popular with mass killers such as San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook and Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen.”
Since that time, it appears that the article was “corrected” to read, “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 similar in capabilities to the Sig Sauer MCX rifle used by Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen.”
Good on them for at least making a correction because as we all know, the AR-15 is not a “tactical machine gun.” The weirdness in Kuntzman’s article is really too much to expound upon here so I’ll let you just read it for yourself.
After receiving a slew of negative feedback via e-mail telling Kuntzman that he is no longer qualified to use the men’s room, he wrote a follow up piece this morning in which he recasts the conversation about gun control as one about gender. That article can be found here, and is equally laughable. Kuntzman, that poor soul, meets and exceeds every cliche that Americans believe about New York City journalists. I say this as a New York City based journalist myself.
People fear what they don’t understand, and Kuntzman does not understand guns. He fired a glorified varmint gun at a range and made it sound like he had participated in the battle of Stalingrad. “It felt to me like a bazooka — and sounded like a cannon,” he wrote. In the follow up article he says, “I found the sheer power of the weapon horrifying. I found the noise deafening and anxiety provoking. I was frightened by its potential for rapid, catastrophic, Orlando-like carnage with similiar weaponry.” No one can fault him for not using enough colorful language.
Kuntzman is shocked that so many readers wrote in questioning his masculinity. “Besides, if masculinity is defined by the power to commit violence on a wide scale, I proudly choose femininity. At one time, ‘being a man’ meant standing up for what you believe in — and against injustice. By that definition, we need more real men in power taking on bullies like the NRA…” Kuntzman continued. Once again, we see the evil NRA is squashing open debate and keeping killing machines like the AR-15 on the streets of America narrative being trotted out. This guy just does not get that many, many, many Americans profoundly disagree with his views, not just some evil special interest group.
I won’t waste a lot of time here trying to define masculinity, but there was a time when one aspect of masculinity was mental and physical toughness. Back before safe spaces and trigger warnings, men clawed through the jungles and deserts on expeditions, they rode jeeps across North Africa hunting Nazis, and charged into machine gun fire at Omaha beach. Kuntzman might think he did those things after shooting a AR-15 at a private range, but the reality is that he is just a wimp playing up his limited experience with firearms to sell papers and scare little old ladies in Manhattan who read his story not knowing any better.
When a reader wrote to Kuntzman saying that it is time for him to turn in his man-card, he replied, “If that makes me a girl, well, maybe we should have a girl running the country,” sealing the deal on his New York journo credentials with a thumbs up for Hillary as president. It is almost as if Kuntzman was grown in a vat of green fluid in some underground laboratory for liberal journalists, because he is so good at toeing the line and sticking to the status quo.
He’ll scare the little old ladies in Lincoln Center reading their morning paper, but the rest of America just cringes and laughs. The media cycle grinds on, with no informed debate about gun control or gun rights between grown ups anywhere in sight.