Every once in a while, something completely unexpected happens. This summer, I had an email inquiry from the New York Times- something I didn’t anticipate. At first, I ignored the email. I wasn’t sure I wanted to engage with a news outlet on a topic that’s so frequently mis-represented (reloading culture, gun culture in the USA). After about a week- I responded with some questions about what information the NYTIMES was interested in, and what they were working on. I was corresponding with Ian Urbina, someone I learned was a well-respected investigative journalist. So I decided- why not talk with them. I had hoped this would be an opportunity to shed some “positive light” on a group of people (us): to tell the “real story”. So we corresponded and talked on the phone a couple times, and the NYTIMES sent a photographer out to shadow me for half a day.
Here’s what the NYTIMES published this week: (a similar print story was included in the Sunday Edition of the New York Times, first section, page 14 (full page) on 10/07/2018)
And here’s what I have to say about it:
I do think the article captured “some of” the reasons why people reloading their own ammunition. I also think the article captured aspects of the experience. Here’s the quote that was included from one of our interviews:
“It gives me time to think,” said Gavin Gear, who runs a popular blog and YouTube channel called Ultimate Reloader, which offers instructional videos and reviews of reloading equipment. He described the process as a relaxing ritual: “Not unlike a blacksmith making a knife or a samurai sword.”
But there’s also some things about this article that I don’t “ring true” for me, and seem a bit biased:
Take this portion of the article:
“Enthusiasts cite this pursuit as a way to customize ammunition for heightened accuracy or lethality and as a practical skill should bullets be banned or one day be in short supply.”
While it may be true that lethality is a consideration when reloading ammunition, I would say that 99.999% of the time this would relate to ethical hunting of animals. The way this is worded in the article is ambiguous- with many readers potentially relating this to violent acts towards fellow human beings. In all my years of reloading ammunition, I haven’t run a across a single instance of that motivation.
The article mentions Cody Wilson, and makes reference to 3D printed guns. Again, I haven’t run into a single person in the gun community that has 3D printed a gun (or talked about doing so). And having worked on 3D printing technology at Microsoft, I can tell you that this technology is very much still in its infancy. So why did this become a focus of the article? I don’t consider Cody Wilson to be a part of the gun community- he’s an anarchist, and a part of the “fringe”. Not one of us, the majority: law-abiding US citizens with legal firearms, protecting our rights, our families, etc.
How about mass shootings? From the article:
“Douglas Haig, an aerospace engineer from Mesa, Ariz., ran one such business until he was charged with manufacturing the armor-piercing tracer ammunition that one of his customers, Stephen Paddock, used to gun down hundreds of people last year at a Las Vegas country music festival.”
Seriously? Focus on a 1:1,000,000 case where ammunition manufacturing was tangentially related to a tragedy? As if this is a threat somehow?
I can’t say this article was completely biased, because I do feel there were some good insights into “our culture”. But I do feel that “fringe elements” dominated this article more than they should have. I also would have liked to have seen more technical details about the ammunition reloading process, the equipment, and the technical reasons for reloading your own ammunition (load development, fire forming, etc). Example: A hunter reloads their own ammunition to ensure reliable functioning in their firearm, ethical/lethal ballistics, and accuracy (also a part of ethical hunting, especially at long ranges). During the visit from the NYTIMES (and on the phone) I covered many of these topics and technical details.
The article did correctly portray the ammunition reloading community as “engineering minded” and “serious about what they do” – those are important insights. But it’s also true that people that reload tend to be law-abiding and upstanding citizens (good people!). I think that was under-represented in the article. All you need to do is visit http://handloads.com – read through the threads- and anyone will see *exactly* what I’m talking about!
What do you think? Give the article a read, and leave a comment to let us all know how you feel!